Mentioned in this episode
Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones, and this is episode 141 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
This week’s episode is “Starting the Perfect Photography Business”.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t started yet or have been in business for a few years. You need to answer the same questions to put your business on the right track.
So you are either wondering how to set up your business or correct something that isn’t working how you want it to.
What is your perfect photography business?
To find out, you need to answer these questions …
How many hours can you work a week?
This is very important, so be honest with yourself. Don’t over-commit; you don’t want to neglect your family. It’s important to keep some balance in your life. Trust me, I’ve plenty of experience doing it the wrong way.
Okay, so let’s say you can work 10 hours a week on your side hustle. That doesn’t mean you can go out and shoot for 10 hours.
When you think about working on your business, you need to include driving to and from a location, editing, uploading to a gallery, communicating with your customers, and marketing.
If you do a one-hour portrait session, you might spend 20 minutes writing emails or calling the customer. Add 20 minutes of driving to the session location and another 20 driving home. Then, you have a 1-hour photo session and 1 hour of editing.
That’s 3 hours of your precious time spent on a 1-hour photo session.
Now, if the session was only 30 minutes, you could do the editing faster, but the total time spent would be 2 hours. You still have to communicate with the customer, and you still have to drive to and from the location.
So if you have 10 hours available for your business, don’t book four 1-hour sessions in a week because that is 12 hours of work. Book three 1-hour sessions and move the fourth to the next week.
The times I have just mentioned are different for every shoot you do. If you have a home studio, you won’t have any travel time. Shooting at a location close to your home might also save you time traveling.
So, work out how much time you will need to dedicate to each booking you get. If you find you are doing your maximum hours a week and not making enough money, don’t go over your available hours. Time isn’t the problem here; pricing is, so put your prices up.
Which days of the week can you work?
If you are married with kids, and the kids play a sport, is it okay to rely on your partner to take them while you do a session?
Does your full-time job require you to work on weekends? If it does, that could complicate things if you want to do weddings.
How much money do you need to make?
Is there an amount of money you need to make? Maybe you want to earn enough money to pay your rent or mortgage, pay a car loan, or take a family vacation. My initial aim was to buy more equipment so I could shoot any type of session. I didn’t want any restrictions on what I could shoot.
If you have a figure in mind, match it to the number of hours you can work and find out how much you need to make per session.
Let’s say you can work 9 hours a week or three 1-hour sessions. You would like to earn $1500 a month.
So you would do twelve 1-hour sessions a month. To find out how much you need to make per session, just divide 1500 by 12. That is $125 per session, which is really low.
In this case, you could easily make the $1500 in way less than a month. Charging $125 for a 1-hour portrait session is okay for your first couple of paying customers or even for a 20-minute mini-session, but not once you get going.
When I started out, my aim was to be busy. I just got myself as many bookings as I could and thought the money would start rolling in. I got so busy I was doing more hours in my part-time side hustle and making half the money than I did in my full-time job.
The end result was burnout, and I took a step back from photography while I tried to work it out.
If I had decided how much money I wanted to make, I could have priced my work accordingly and taken the stress out of it.
Which genre of photography do you want to shoot?
The important thing here is to be happy. If you are constantly shooting things you don’t enjoy, resentment will creep in.
I shot weddings for a few years, and the money was great. The stress of capturing everything during the day didn’t bother me. It was the interactions with some brides and their mothers that I hated.
The worst bride told me she didn’t want any photos of her future sister-in-law, which was awkward because she was a bridesmaid. So what did I do? I took as many photos of her as I could.
My daughter is just starting out with her business, and I usually say to choose one or two genres and go for it. But, if you can’t decide, give everything a try.
Kenzie just did a shoot for an artist. He is going to use the images on his new website. So, if you get an opportunity to shoot something totally different, go for it. You don’t know where it might lead.
A lot of people get into photography to take photos of their own children. Before they know it, friends are asking them to take photos of their kids, and a business is started. Then, you get asked to do a headshot, some product photos, or a wedding.
Give them all a try and see if you enjoy doing it. If you had fun doing it, do more. But, if there is one small thing you don’t like, it will only worsen over time.
My happy places are shooting sports, dogs, and macro. You need to find what makes you happy. If you can, you’ll always love what you do.
Answering those four questions will give you four rules to control your business.
If you stick to the rules, you will rarely get upset and stressed with your side hustle. The business will fit in with your day-to-day life and reduce the risk of burnout. At any point, if you find yourself stressed out, make adjustments.
Your daily life doesn’t stay the same month after month. Kids grow older, and your personal needs change, so change your business rules to match.
Even if your intention is to keep growing from a side hustle to a full-time business, these rules will help you control it. If you can think of any other rules that apply to your life, use them. The more controls you have in place, the happier you will be because you need your business to be perfect for you.
Okay, that is my take on running a perfect photography business.
I just want to mention a photographer from California I have been following on YouTube for a few months. His name is Nick Carver, and he shoots a mixture of Landscape, Architecture, and Street photography. Now he shoots Large and Medium Format film cameras, but don’t be put off by that. His work is incredible.
I’ll put a link in the show notes and over at PhotographySideHustle.com/141.
Right, that’s it for another episode. Talk to you soon. Bye.