For writers, the dream is to enter the world of freelance. For foodies, it may be a catering business or a local farmers market. Here you are, most likely with years of photo-snapping under your belt, and you want to start your own business.
This is definitely an exciting time, despite the possible nerves and confusion. Every entrepreneur has the initial moment of, “Where do I start? What do I do!?” and considers giving up. Put your stresses to rest and follow these steps about how to start your home-based photography business.
8 Steps to Turn Your Photography Hobby into Cash!
1. Finding your niche.
Before you turn your passion into a successful business, pinpoint what kind of service you’ll offer. Some entrepreneurs try to tackle too much from the start and try to do all kinds of photography: wedding photography, creative portraits, pet photography, newborn portraits, food photography, commercial photography, and real estate photography.
Choose one specialty keeping in mind your skillset, the businesses and people in your area, who will be interested in your service, and whether or not you will have to travel for your work.
All of these facets will affect your workload and the equipment you will need.
2. Price out and gather your equipment.
You might eye your camera across the room and ignore this step, but you’ll need more than your favorite DSLR to grow your business. Research and comparison shop for lenses, flashes, batteries, photo editing software, packaging, and those extra memory cards you never think you’ll need until you’re in the middle of a shoot. Clients expect unbeatable work; don’t let the quality of your equipment hinder your art! Make sure to thoroughly record and document your spending in this area.
3. Build your portfolio.
Your clients will want to gauge your quality and style before they hire you. Diversify your portfolio and make it easy to access both on your website and your studio. Make the building process a learning experience and perfect your work as much as you can.
Consider including portraits, casual and formal photos, and work that shows off your abilities both indoors and outdoors.
Update your portfolio with changes in style, trends, and when you acquire better equipment. Try not to include pieces that you won’t be able to recreate; every photographer has a couple of miracle shots, but don’t put yourself in a position where a wedding couple expects the same flock of doves to accompany their big kiss!
4. Decide what business structure you should have.
The two main options are sole proprietor and limited liability company. The first is cheaper and simpler, but the latter offers better protection of your personal assets. Visit a local insurance agent for legal and insurance options. It’s best to protect yourself and your business before a sticky situation occurs!
5. Decide on a name.
Some people don’t put much thought into this step, but oftentimes the name of your business is the first thing that your clients see. Be creative and choose a name that clearly communicates what service you offer.
Don’t simply name the business after yourself; make sure that the name reflects your unique artistic style.
6. Licenses, permits, and other “business-y” stuff.
Once you pick a name, make your business official. Research and obtain licenses or permits that your city requires. You’ll need to collect sales tax if you live in a state that charges sales tax.
Visit your local tax office or comptroller to collect the necessary information that you need. Once you have a license you can open a bank account. Be sure to track your spendings and earnings in a spreadsheet document!
7. Determine your pricing.
Now for the part where you make money! Compare rates from other photographers to get a good idea about how much you will charge. Prices vary between service and location, so make sure that most of your research is local.
Don’t expect to land thousand-dollar jobs in the first month—start small and work your way up as you gain experience and build your resume.
8. Start marketing your business!
This step can be both the most exciting and nerve-wracking for photographers. Clients will start streaming in, whether in a line outside your door or in small numbers that suggest you might want to rethink your strategy.
Along with a professional website, make yourself a part of the professional network in your area. Make friends with local businesses and other photographers (even rivals!) in order to make yourself known. Be sure to arm yourself with business cards and brochures, too! Try Vistaprint for cheap, customizable marketing handouts.
And of course, the big one – Social Media. You absolutely must be creatively and effectively using Facebook as well as Twitter and Instagram. It can be overwhelming so if you need help let me know.