Mentioned in this episode
Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones, and this is episode 139 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
So, 2024 is here, and a lot of people are thinking of starting a photography business. My daughter, Kenzie, is about to get back into photography. She has just taken delivery of a Canon R8, which is a great camera, and I’m looking forward to seeing her build her business.
If you are thinking about starting your business in 2024 and you need help with anything, you can find me in the Facebook group.
Okay, so this is …
How to Start Your Photography Business in 2024
Now, there is much more to starting a photography business than picking up your camera and taking photos. So, I’m going to take you through the things you need to do to get started and build a business.
So before I start waffling on, I need to let you know that I am not a Lawyer, Insurance broker, or Tax specialist. You need to check these things out for yourself, as the rules are different from state to state, province to province, and country to country.
Right then, first up is …
Choose a Niche
When you’re starting out, you want to shoot everything, and I know I did. Trying to shoot anything and everything can water down your business.
It’s important that you choose your niche. There is nothing wrong with offering two different types of photography. You just have to make sure they don’t overlap, like doing weddings and winter sports. Winter sports around here start in October, and couples are still getting married in October.
Similarly, you would think weddings and family portraits would go hand in hand.
Well, they do, as long as you don’t take any family portrait bookings on any Saturday from March to mid-October. That is where I live, and it’s probably different for you. Just check if they overlap and decide which one takes precedence.
Next, you need to …
Build a Portfolio
The most important part of your marketing is your portfolio. Showing customers your best work will allow them to decide if they want to book you or not.
You need to build your portfolio before you decide to start your business. Offer friends and family free sessions and hone your skills. Put all your best work into the portfolio.
Don’t post any photos in your portfolio that are not related to the type of photography you are trying to sell. Like photos of your dog if you are selling weddings. It just confuses people and waters down your authority.
When you think it’s good enough, start the ball rolling and …
Register Your Business Name
If you want to run a photography business, you need to register it with your local government. This is so you can pay tax on your earnings and charge your customers tax. In some areas, registering your business name will protect it from being used by anyone else. As I said earlier, I’m not qualified to give you help with this. You need to look into it yourself.
Sole Proprietor or Corporation
Here in Canada, you have the choice between being a Sole Proprietor or registering a Corporation. The way I understand it, as a sole proprietor, you earn the money and pay the taxes on those earnings. A corporation is a separate entity that earns the money, and you are an employee of the corporation.
I suggest you talk to an accountant and get advice before making this decision.
You will also need Commercial Liability insurance and Equipment insurance, but chat with an insurance broker to find out what you need.
Insurance is your safety net. If your equipment is stolen and you’re not insured, well, it’s going to be very expensive.
Years ago, I heard of a husband and wife team who were shooting a wedding. They put a backpack down inside the church entrance that had backup cameras, lenses, flashes, and more. Someone stole it, and they weren’t insured. That was a $12,000 loss, ouch!
Another reason is not all customers are happy-go-lucky people; some are downright nasty. You never know who will sue you, so buy some peace of mind.
Launch A Website
This is your business hub. Don’t rely on a Facebook page. It doesn’t look professional.
You need a clean, well-laid-out website that answers your customer’s questions.
Your first step is a …
You need to do a search on a site like GoDaddy and register a domain name that matches your business name. This is something you should do before registering your business name because it’s important they match.
If you want to use the business name Jane Doe Photography, see if you can register JaneDoePhotography.com or JaneDoePhoto.com.
There are also other Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions available, so instead of .com, you can get .photo and .photography, so you can use JaneDoe.photo or JaneDoe.photography.
Plus, every country has its own TLD, like .ca for Canada and .co.uk for Britain, so you have lots of options.
This is super important to get right.
The website needs a portfolio, as I mentioned earlier, of your best work in your chosen niche. Customers need to see what you can do for them. You also need a contact page so they can book you as easily as possible.
All the copy or wording needs to address the problems that customers need to solve. No waffling on about how amazing you are. They are not interested.
Think about when you are looking for information on the web. You land on a website, and you can decide whether this site has what you need in a matter of seconds.
What you wanted to see were the answers you were looking for. So when someone goes to your site, they are looking for a photographer who can solve their problem. That problem might be that they need a photographer to shoot their daughter’s wedding on August 24.
So you need some text that addresses that at the top of the home page. It should be the first thing they see, and it should give them an answer to their problem.
Price Your Services
This is where you need to place yourself in the marketplace. Where do you fit in with your competition? Compare your best photos with your local competitor’s work. Being honest with yourself is so important.
There is also a spreadsheet available on the PhotographySideHustle.com website so you know your break-even point. I’ll put links in the show notes. There is a version for Google Sheets, but it wasn’t working when I checked it. Hopefully, I’ll get it working by the time you hear this. It’s in the FREE DOWNLOADS section.
I did a podcast episode called Pricing on 27 August 2023. Episode 120, I believe.
Grow Your Business
Marketing your business is a never-ending job. If you stop marketing, your business will start to decline, so look at it as something you do weekly, monthly, and seasonally.
One thing every business needs is a mailing list, and you need to start it straight away.
Having a signup form on your website offering visitors your latest special offers will get you a list of people interested in your work. They might not book you now, but if they receive an email with a special offer, they will.
Let’s say you want to do some Easter mini-sessions. Rather than paying for an ad in the local paper, send an email out to all the people on your list. Give a discount if they book within 48 hours, and that discount is only available to the people on the list.
The best list host is ConvertKit, and they have a free plan for a list with up to 1000 emails. I’ll put a link to this and everything else I mentioned in this episode in the show notes and at PhotographySideHustle.com/139
Right, that’s it for this episode. As I said earlier, if you have any questions, you can find me in the Facebook group.
I check everyone who wants to join the group myself. If you don’t have any posts on your profile, haven’t posted for 4 years, or it’s a new account, I will not let you join.
I’ve had a few people tell me they haven’t used Facebook for years and only want to join the group. So, if you are declined or think you might be declined, send me an email or get in touch through Facebook Messenger, and I let you join. I’m trying to limit SPAM.
Okay, if you need help with using Photoshop, my course is available at PhotographySideHustle.com.
If you would like to support the podcast you can buy me a coffee there also.
I’ll be back next week with a lens hood full of waffle. Talk to you soon, bye.