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A Deliciously Easy Side Hustle Idea for Your Teen: Food Photography

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I think this one is a really great side hustle idea for moms, teens, and kids, actually. For a while, my oldest daughter did a little food photography on the side to make extra money (one of her most popular recipes was when she recreated Chili’s Paradise Pie before they brought it back last year). 

So, this idea is kind of a two-for… writing recipes for cookbooks and snapping pictures of prepared everyday meals to sell to bloggers who post easy recipes with step-by-step instructions to their blogs.  I’m going to talk more about the latter because it’s probably an easier idea for teens to do on their own.

Here’s How the Food Photography Gig Works (and it’s not as lah-di-dah as it sounds)

Believe it or not, photographs of food are valuable assets these days. Stock photography sites like Stock Food, The Picture Pantry, and Foodies Feed are super popular for providing bloggers and publishers with still images and videos of recipes being made. Some even include narration.

So, for teens who may be great in the kitchen (or maybe just know how to follow a recipe and make the food look decent), they can actually make money by taking pics and video of their dishes as they are in progress. They can then sell or license those recipes + pics to bloggers in content-focused Facebook groups OR license them on stock photography sites.

One thing to remember about this gig is that you’re creating content for blogs that have a pretty long lead time. So, when creating recipes for the holidays, you have to have those recipes and pics ready to go 12 weeks ahead of the holiday. So, an Easter dinner should be selling in February, while the 4th of July backyard BBQ ideas should be selling by April.

Creative ideas are always great, too. My 18-year-old often does fun activities with her younger sisters (currently 4 and 7) and we typically record and take pics of those. Sometimes it’s something cute like a sandwich cut into the shape of a reindeer’s face for the holidays or strawberries and whipped cream made to look like Santa. That kind of stuff is great for the holidays.

PLUS, you can always just photograph your holiday meals and treats in real-time when you’re making them. If you hang on to the pictures, you can plan to sell both the pics and your recipe the following September and October when bloggers are buying holiday content again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Tips to Keep Food Photography Profitable for Your Teen

Skills Inventory

You don’t really need to be a gourmet chef or anything. really, just knowing how to follow directions and take a bunch of progress photos is the fastest route to success with this. Teens know the ins and outs of making pictures look good, so that’s a bonus.

Physical/Virtual Inventory

Kitchen, computer, internet connection. A tripod or ring light stand and a really good camera – which just about every iPhone has.

Launch Cost

Assuming you have the aforementioned personal and physical inventory items, the additional cost is $0. Like I said, this is just a matter of documenting breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Marketing

Instagram should become your jam. Food photography is extremely popular on Instagram, and recipes are a staple on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Top hashtags include #food #foodporn #foodphotography (40 million+ posts using this hashtag)

If you really know your stuff, you can contribute recipes to different blogs. Facebook actually has pretty active content groups where group members are looking to BUY recipes + pictures. Not just recipes, though. Crafts, homeschooling content, printables for kids… all do very well in these groups. I’ve sold stuff in these myself.

A few of the private content groups that I know are pretty active include:

Also, you can find recipe-writing jobs on Upwork and Fiverr, specifically. You can check the other freelance gig boards, but I think Upwork will be your best bet.  

One thing you’ll have to think about with food photography and recipe-writing is what kind of rights you’ll give away to buyers. For example, the content for sale in Facebook content groups often sell semi-exclusive rights, meaning the writer is selling that same recipe three or four times (usually the same recipe with different images).

Flipside is if you’re creating and selling these recipes and images as a work-for-hire, you’re automatically relinquishing your rights when you accept payment. It’s true that you can’t really copyright a recipe, but you also won’t be able to reuse those pics UNLESS you structure the contract to offer non-exclusive rights. Just something to keep in mind.