Safe to say is that nearly everyone reading this post has their eye on a piece of camera kit, that one piece that will take their capabilities to the next level. Usually, money is the barrier to taking that next step, so let's talk about increasing available cash. Raising funds generally involves earning money by working, selling something of value and/or spending less.
Since photography is our love, most of us will find the best option to raise money for camera gear is to sell our images and/or photography services. This is of course easier said than done, but get a sales channel going and you will have a recurring revenue stream to support your photo kit growth long term. Advertise your portrait services to your Facebook friends. Ask your kid's teammates' parents if they would be interested in spending a few dollars for some great sports action pics. Hang prints for sale in local establishments.
An upside to selling prints and services is that, if you sell enough, your accountant will likely allow you to write-off your gear costs and other expenses, saving you a lot of money by effectively reducing your costs significantly.
You have likely been upgrading to the latest camera and lens models as they are released. But, are you cleaning out what doesn't get used any longer? If there is gear in your kit has not been used in a year or two and is not needed for backup purposes, it is probably not worth keeping and is a potential source of funding for the hot new gear.
Selling camera gear direct to a buyer can bring you the most revenue, but ... it doesn't get easier and the risk doesn't get lower than selling to B&H. They take care of everything and you can count on getting paid.
For many of us, the camera gear is the priority, so ... what else can you sell? What is taking up space in your house, garage, attic, basement, etc. but has been unused for a year? Are you really going to use it again? Sell it on eBay. The process is easy and you might be surprised at what other people want. Even if you don't make a lot per item, repeat the process enough times and the funds start adding up. Available space in your house also increases. Perhaps enough to make room for a new photo setup, even if it is only a product/macro setup.
Offline, the "Bake sale" suggestion keeps bubbling to the surface around here. Beats selling a body part for sure and a good sandwich sale could finance an L lens.
If your day job is not photography related, I hesitate to recommend that you work more hours as doing so may cut into your photography time, but ... a little overtime in your off season (winter perhaps?) could go a long way in financing some new glass. Another option with longer term payback: spend some time educating yourself to qualify for a position that commands a higher salary.
If your day job is commission based, put in more sales time and effort for a greater compensation reward. Finding a side job that you find enjoyable, even if for only an evening or two each week, can raise considerable funds over a period of time.
I should note here that time with the family should not suffer if you are working more hours. Make your family your highest priority. Take the extra working hours out of your personal time (put away the video games).
Do you charge a rate for the work you do? Being the low-priced option might be necessary for someone starting out in an industry, but the goal is to quickly leave the bargain basement pricing behind you. Increase your rates. Get good enough to become worth more in the eyes of your clients or your employer. Study your craft and deliver the highest quality of work possible. Then educate why your work is better.
The amount of time we have cannot be increased, but better utilizing the time we do have is the goal.
Post processing consumes a large part of many photography jobs and especially with the additional bandwidth requirements of the ultra-high resolution DSLR cameras arriving on the scene, computing performance is a common bottleneck. There are likely few of us who find the anticipation of an image loading to full resolution to be worth the time spent watching it do so. I recently replaced the lab laptop with a model that processes images twice as fast. It is not hard to justify an expense that frees time like this.
Another consideration is to outsource the work that is not core to your services (or that you do not like, or are not good at). This work can include accounting, payroll, lawn mowing, cleaning, etc. Or, hire an assistant that complements your skill set and/or handles the tasks that do not require your skills. Work smart. This includes working efficiently, quickly and of course, hard.
Increasing available cash from an existing revenue streams (such as the day job) can be accomplished by tightening the budget. Even a modest $20 per week savings will net over $1,000 in a year in after tax dollars. Pack a lunch a couple of days per week. Give up a few of the fancy cups of coffee each week. Ride a bike to work. Look at where your money is going and stop some of the flow.
Your credit card makes it easy to place an order for any gear that you want right now. But, I strongly recommend not using your credit card as the source of a loan for camera gear. While I very highly recommend using credit cards (pick a good rewards card with the warranty extension feature), credit card companies charge extremely high interest rates that can become a long term burden. Pay the credit cards in full every month to avoid this additional cost. Find another source for a loan if necessary.
I was not going to include this option, but since I strongly discouraged using a credit card as a loan source, I wanted to note that a loan is not always a bad decision for camera and post production gear purchased for business use. If you think that a capital investment in camera gear will allow you to increase your business opportunities and revenue, a loan from a reputable source with a reasonable interest rate may be a valid consideration. Before signing for the cash, make sure that you have a business plan in place that includes loan repayment. Lenses hold their value especially well, meaning that aborting the plan early will not likely prove disastrous. Even so, go into debt only with careful forethought.
One of our goals here The-Digital-Picture.com is to maximize your kit improvement per dollar. The retailers we promote (especially B&H) always offer low prices combined with excellent customer service. The highly relevant short term deals we search out and share on the news page/feed range from very good to amazing. Make sure to check in at least daily to insure that you don't miss the opportunity to save on the gear you want or need.
Basically, the camera gear kit funding strategy is: make more, spend less, sell what you are not using and shop smart. Then watch your kit grow. Sounds simple, right?