In a little over six months, Merritt Huey made $90,000 — and she did it on Instagram.
Huey is a lifestyle photographer with over 12,000 Instagram followers. Her feed is full of bright and airy photos with a clean, white aesthetic.
But the Belmont junior found new levels of success when she started selling her presets — filters layered over a picture — in September of 2018.
“I think she’s always had the idea for it and has used other photographer’s presets before, so she’s known about the business and how it works,” said fellow lifestyle photographer Chandler Barber who uses her presets. “One day she was like, ‘I need to do this. I think I would be good at it and people would want to buy them,’ and she just went for it.”
The process of creating the presets was a tedious job for Huey.
“You go into Lightroom on the computer and just start tweaking every tool. I’d go through all of that and I found out I really hate yellow colors and I really love brights,” Huey said. “I kind of would take what I already had and would just tweak them and really see how they would look. It took me two months from the time I knew I was going to release them.”
Originally, Huey thought only a handful of people would buy her presets, but with the help of friends and influencers, she was able to expand her customer reach.
“I reached out to some of my friends who do have really big followings. They posted them multiple times for me and right after that, I got around $7,000 in a day,” said Huey.
With almost 3,000 customers, Huey’s income surpassed expectations.
“Within less than two months I had made $37,000. I honestly couldn’t believe it. Like it’s still surreal. Now I’m coming up on six months since the launch date, and I’m at the $90,000,” said Huey.
Her full preset pack contains four filters ranging from bright to muted tones. Her style of presets work on different types of photos and settings, such as outdoors, indoors, lifestyle and products.
“I use them all the time. I love her darker ones because I would say that’s more of my style. Her brown tones I use more often than her lighter ones, but I like that she has both because they work for different types of images,” said Barber.
Part of Huey’s business growth is thanks to the loyalty she’s received from her customers.
“I’ve known her for a long time and I follow her on Instagram. I bought them to support her and because I really liked them, and it really ended up paying off because they’re just awesome,” said customer and fellow Belmont student Alli Hoffer.
Huey has saved her money to eventually put a down payment on a house. She is also donating some of the earnings to charities and her friends’ mission trips.
“My dad has just always pounded this in my brain to always donate 10 percent of your earnings to the church,” Huey said. “Because it’s not my money, and that didn’t just happen because of me. God did that whole money thing, and so that’s where I’ve been trying to keep my head the entire time.”
Huey’s next pack of presets will have a spring aesthetic, with eight filters made for phone users.
“Going off the idea of ‘make Instagram casual again,’ we’re cleaning up the muted tones and spicing it up with a lot more saturated pinks, yellows and greens,” said Huey.
Huey’s presets can be found on herwebsite.
This article written by Tina James. Photos courtesy of Merritt Huey.