By Laura Thomas on | No Comments
If you’ve been enjoying your photography as a hobby and decided you’re finally ready to take the leap and do it as your FULL TIME job, there are plenty of things to be aware of before you take the plunge.
Photography as a hobby can be a GREAT way to make some extra cash here and there, but there is a whole lot more to it if you actually want to set it up as your full time business without the safety net of another job in the background.
While the idea of taking this leap might be a huge one, being aware of some of the simple steps to turn your hobby into a job that will cover all your monthly bills and create the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of could be the way for you to get out of the rat race and start making money doing what you LOVE full time.
Here are our top tips for turning your photography hobby into a profitable business:
Whether you are a landscape photographer, a wedding photographer, portrait specialist or a newborn photographer be clear about what you are offering and what type of photography you specialize in. Having a set genre will help solidify your brand and allow you to focus your energy on developing your style and marketing to the right audience.
You might also consider incorporating your photography niche into your brand name – such as ‘Jane Smith – Landscape Photography’ or something similar, so potential customers can see at a glance who you are and what you do.
Without a portfolio, no one will know what you can do. So before you try to turn your photography hobby into a business it’s important to build your portfolio and start working on images that reflect the style of shoots you want to do on a regular basis.
Your portfolio will be one of your main selling points, so make sure to use your BEST IMAGES in the style you specialize in.
Engage some subjects to help you set up some shots if you don’t already have them in your existing portfolio and make sure you have all the equipment you need to create a portfolio of images that truly showcase your talent.
There is nothing more unprofessional that a photographer that doesn’t have a price list. So if you are going to jump from being a hobby photographer to a business make sure to list your prices and clearly outline what is included in your various packages.
Take the time to work out the costs for your services and ensure you are on par with other photographers in your niche and local area.
If you haven’t already done so, you will need a business name and also some marketing and branding materials. This can be as simple as a logo, a business card, and a digital flyer to kick start your business.
It’s also a very good idea to set up a photography business website and Facebook business page so your clients can review your portfolio and services at any time. Check out Wix or a similar DIY website platform. This is a perfect way for for potential customers to review some visual marketing before they contact you.
Whether you advertise on Google and Facebook or search job boards for people looking for a photographer you will need to DO SOMETHING to find the work as it wont just magically come your way without some effort on your part.
Waiting for work to come in when your photography is just a hobby can be fine. But when its your full time business, its vital to ensure you have regular inquiries and work coming in. If not, you may end up with some serious cash flow issues.
Consider approaching your local clubs, schools, art galleries, event companies, bridal shows or anything that is happening in and around your local area. When starting out, it’s important to put your hand up for as much work as you can and set up a range of different options for lead generation and options for photography work.
While your phone might ring off the hook some weeks, its always good to have some other options when times are quiet to build up your sales and meet your on going cash flow needs.
Potential clients often use testimonials when they are trying to make a decision about whether to book a photographer, so make sure to ask all previous clients (that were happy with your work) to write a short testimonial that you can include in your portfolio, social media pages and website.
Set up an email system via Survey Monkey or send an email with a questionnaire to create these and use them in your marketing.
While your photography side gig might have been humming along nicely as a hobby that pays for a few nice things here and there, its a totally different story when you are relying on it to pay all your bills. Make sure you run the numbers and determine the income you will need to manage your day to day expenses AND cover your taxes.
You should also work out any legal issues before making the final decision on your business. Should you set it up as a sole proprietorship or an S-Corp? Do you have contracts to use with clients? You may want to ask your accountant, lawyer, or financial advisor if you need assistance.
There are a lot of things to consider that will help you transition into being a full-time photographer, but the most important thing you can do, at this point, is start setting goals for yourself! For example, rather than saying, “I want to be a full-time photographer” ask yourself what sort of photography do you want to specialize in, and start brainstorming on small steps that will make that happen for you.
Of course the dream of turning your photography hobby into a full time job is a wonderful goal. But make sure you take some time to really think it through and have the important things set up BEFORE you resign from your "other" job and jump into your photography business full time.
And keep in mind, if you are in the early stages of making the transition, you have a real advantage, because you have the opportunity to find ways to make your work unique, and really stand out from your peers!
Do you have any questions or comments about How to Turn Your Photography Hobby Into a Career? Just leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Laura is married and has two children who keep life exciting. She loves people, capturing beauty and enjoys a spending time with her family. She is the Co-Founder of PRETTY (Pretty Presets, Pretty Actions + Pretty Forum).