Selling your photographs to calendar publishers can help you earn extra money on the side, especially if you're just starting out as a professional photographer. However, make sure you research each company thoroughly before you submit a photo in order to make sure the company pays on time and doesn't treat its freelance photographers unfairly in any way.
Find Publishing Companies
Compile an extensive list of companies that publish calendars, ranging from large publishers to small, niche publishers. Look at market guides, such as the "Photographers Market" resource book, published by Northern Light Books. Visit stores that sell calendars, such as grocery stores, greeting card stores and bookstores. Write down the website and publisher name of every calendar you find. Keep an eye out for niche calendars, such as calendars printed by real estate companies. Once you have your list of publishers, look them up online and put together a spreadsheet of contact information.
Do Some Extra Background Work
Look up the calendar publishers online and record any submission guidelines that you can find along with how much the company pays for a photograph. Pay can range from $50 to $1,200 per photo. If you can't find specific instructions, write to an editor who works for the company and request submission guidelines. Also look online for any reviews that fellow photographers have written about the calendar publishing companies. Some companies have a bad reputation for not paying their photographers on time (or at all), so you'll want to stay clear of those publishers.
Put Together a Large Portfolio of Images
You're more likely to sell a photo to a calendar company if you have a large selection of photos for the company to choose from. Photos of animals, especially dogs, cats and horses, are popular with calendar companies. So are scenery photos, such as tourist destinations that are easily recognizable and scenes that are bright and colorful, along with images of varieties of flowers. If you're pitching your photos to a smaller publisher in a niche area, try to take photos specific to that particular publisher's needs, such as real estate photos in the region where a real estate publisher has the most clients. Host samples of your photos on your professional website or on a website hosting service such as Flickr.
Contact each publisher you'd like to sell calendar photos to, making sure that you follow the submission guidelines if they have any. Many companies will prefer that you send your initial query by email. Introduce yourself briefly and mention other companies that you have photographed for or that have published your work. Include a link to your website with samples that are relevant to the publisher's niche. If you're contacting local publishers, such as real estate companies, make an initial phone call instead for a more personal touch. Introduce yourself and ask for a meeting so you can show them some photographs that would fit in well with their calendar. If they're not available for a meeting, send a link to your website where they can view samples. If you haven't received a reply within a week or two, follow-up with a phone call or email.
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