If you’ve been running your photography as a successful hobby and you’re ready to take the leap of faith and do it as your job, there are plenty of things to be aware of before you take the plunge.
Photographing as a hobby can be a brilliant way to make some extra cash here and there, but there is a whole lot more to it if you want to set up a business and get into photography as your line of work without the safety net of a full time job in the background.
While the idea of taking the 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 doing what you love full time.
Here are some of our top tips for turning your photography hobby into a profitable business:
1. Find your niche
Whether you are a landscape photographer, a wedding photographer, portrait specialist or a newborn photographer be clear about what you are offering and the area you specialize in. Having a set genre will help you to mold your brand and clearly state your service offering to your potential client base.
You might also consider incorporating your photography niche into your brand name – such as ‘Jane Smith – Landscape Photography’ or similar so that potential customers can see at a glance who you are and what you do.
2. Build a portfolio
Without a portfolio, no one will know what you do, so before you try to turn your 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 your selling point so make sure you add your best images and the style you specialize in and only use the best of the best images. Engage some subjects to help you set up some shots if you don’t have them in your existing portfolio and ensure you have all the equipment available to create a suite of photos that truly show your talent.
3. Set out your prices
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 you should outline your price list and have inclusions clearly outlined.
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.
4. Create some marketing and branding materials
If you haven’t already done so you will need a business name and also some marketing materials whether it be as simple as a logo, business card, and a DL digital flyer to kick start your business.
When you get a chance, it’s also a good idea to set up a website so your clients can review your portfolio and services 24/7. Check out Wix or a similar DIY website platforms and set this up so your potential customers have some visual marketing to review ahead of getting in contact.
5. Find some streams for lead generation & consider freelance
Whether you sign up and advertise or if you search job boards for people looking for a photographer you will need to start pounding the pavement and looking for work as the work won’t just come your want without a little bit of effort.
While it can be fine to wait for the work to come in when you have photography as a hobby, it’s important to ensure you have regular work and inquiries for your business otherwise you will end up with some serious cash flow issues.
Whether you approach your local clubs, schools, art galleries, event companies, bridal shows or anything that is happening in and around your local area, it’s important you put your hand up for as much work as you can and set up a range of different options for lead generation so that you have a wide range of options for trying to get work.
While your phone might ring off the hook some weeks, having some options when times are quiet to build up your sales and get deposits for jobs is essential otherwise you could find it tough to make ends meet.
6. Get referrals and testimonials
People love testimonials when they are trying to make a decision about whether to book in a photographer or not, so make sure you get as many past clients or people you have shot for to send in a testimonial so you can have these available 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.
7. Figure out the numbers
While your side gig might have been humming along nicely as a hobby that pays for a few nice things here and there if you are looking to turn your hobby into a business that pays the bills you will need to determine if you can financial manage the day to day running of a business that pays taxes.
Speak with your accountant or financial adviser, have an idea of what you need to earn each year, month, week and what the outlays might be for you to do your photography business properly and work out all the financial and legal issues well ahead of making your decision to crack on with your business.
While the dream of taking your photography hobby to be a full time job is a wonderful idea, making sure you have everything set up can take some time so be patient and ensure you have all your ducks lined up in a row before you resign from your job and jump into your photography business full time.