You do not have to be a professional photographer to start earning money taking pictures with your digital camera. However, you will need solid photography skills, creativity, and basic business skills to make decent money from it.
There are a lot of places you can sell your photos to including magazines, postcard printers and stock photography sites.
To get started, do some research to find out what potential customers are looking for and ask other photographers for advice on what works and what does not.
The easiest way to find out what type of photos a particular magazine may want is by looking through back issues and studying the photos they used. If you can match the style of photography often used by that magazine, then send in some samples to the photo editor and wait to hear from them. If you contact different magazines at the same time, make sure to use different photos as using the same ones could cause you trouble down the road.
The advent of stock or microstock photography sites, such as istock, fotolia and fotomind, has also opened new doors for photographers to make money and it's probably the most convenient way to sell your pictures. Most of these sites allow photographers to sign up for free and upload their photos for sale. And with multiple downloads a day per digital image, you can end up learning a good some of money. For guaranteed success, make sure your photos are of the highest resolution possible, very creative and tagged with keywords that buyers are likely to search for.
To attain even more downloads and make even more from microstock photography sites, post your digital pictures to image sites like Flickr – you will need to watermark your photos before uploading them to such sites so that people do not steal them and use them as their own. When you have uploaded them, link them to your profile at the stock photography site where you're selling your photos – this will trickle buying traffic to your photos.
Lending and insurance companies may sometimes require freelance photographers to take photos of properties that they are lending for or insuring. To find out what companies are currently looking for freelancers, do a search online for "freelance photographers needed".
Another way to get in touch with companies that are looking for photographers or quality digital images is by posting ads to classifieds like Craiglist.
If you intend on marketing your services directly to the public, you'll need to consider how you will let people know about your new service. You could post flyers around your neighborhood or in local convenience stores or perhaps just rely on word of mouth. Photography opportunities that could help you make money include pet photography, kids sporting events, kids life events, adult events (retirement parties, walk-a-thons, etc) and online auctions (taking pictures of items that people intend to sell online).