If you are pursuing photography as a side hustle, by definition you have a regular job that occupies most of our time, so you have a limited amount of time to devote to your photography business. The question becomes: should you spread our efforts across multiple aspects of your business, or concentrate on one aspect at a time? Should you focus or diversify?
First you need to take a step back and define what you are going to do in our photography business. Are you going to be:
- a wedding photographer
- a portrait photographer
- a fine art photographer
- an event photographer
- or some combination of the above?
Even if you decide you are going to be a wedding photographer, chances are you will also do portraits and maybe dabble in stock photography or fine art photography.
Note that this could be different from how you portray yourself publicly. I would advise being open about what type of photographer you are, but you may consider yourself an event photographer while publicly niching down to, say, a sports photographer.
Diversification is key to success in many areas. In investing, for example, diversification is a key concept. Don’t hold one asset, or one asset class (such as stocks); diversify across multiple asset classes, diversify across multiple countries… spread the risk and spread the opportunity.
It pays to diversify in your photography business, too. Maybe you’re a wedding photographer. What do you do in the off season where bookings are less frequent? Diversifying into portrait photography can help smooth the load. The same goes for event photographers – maybe you shoot football. You need some income even when it’s not football season.
Having some fine art and/or stock photography can provide a steady income throughout the year. Diversification can pay off.
However, there’s something to be said for focusing on one thing at a time. Warren Toda argues that “when a photographer tries to be a jack of all trades, they may actually harm their business.”
The book The ONE Thing talks about focusing on the one most important thing that will move you toward achieving your goals.
There’s a lot to be said for a laser-like focus, concentrating all of your effort on mastering one aspect of photography, or driving one area of your business to great heights.
For one thing, you can get to know your target audience / customers really well. By focusing on, say, wedding photography, you can attend the wedding-related shows and skip the art or Christmas shows, saving money and getting in front of the exact customers you really want. Plus you can network with the right group of people. Getting chummy with sports photographers might be fun, and rewarding in its own way, but they may not be able to help you grow your wedding photography business.
Also you can get the right gear. If you dabble in all sorts of photography, you’re going to end up spending a lot more money than if you focus on one or two areas. You won’t need that expensive 600mm lens you bought for bird photography if you’re doing weddings. Those studio strobes won’t help your sports photography. Your photography side hustle has a limited budget and you need to spend it wisely.
What To DO?
I recommend you focus on the aspect of photography that you really want to excel at, and give it 80-90% of your time, effort and money. Spend the resources to get really good at it and develop it into a successful side hustle.
At the same time, take that 10-20% of your effort and diversify. Do some photography that you want to experiment in. Play. Learn. Network. You never know what you’ll discover that will help your primary focus.