Do you find a lot of joy in your photography hobby? Have you had success with your pictures, and dream of leaving the 9-5 so you can take pictures full time? It’s something you can do, if you put the work in. Here’s how you can start making money off your photography hobby, and kiss goodbye the day job.
Understand Why You Want To Be A Photographer
Firstly, consider why you’re thinking of making a career change. It’s something you should do no matter what kind of change you want to make. What is it that you’re hoping to get from photography?
For example, perhaps you spend too much time at work now, and want to use photography as a way to spend more time with your family. Perhaps your current job isn’t something you’re passionate about, and you want to do something that’s more rewarding to you.
If you know why you want to pursue a new role, then you can be clear in the decisions you make down the road. For example, if you’re looking to spend more time with your family, then you can set your own hours in photography.
It’ll also help you pick the niche you want to sit in, so think carefully about why you’re making that switch.
Pick Your Niche
Speaking of niches, there’s so many different ways you can go when it comes to photography. If you’re thinking of making the switch, you’ll need to think about how you’ll use your photography skills.
There are many people out there who make a living as wedding photographers, for example. This requires a lot of skills, such as people skills and the ability to roll with a schedule that may change quickly. Others take stock photography, selling pictures online through stock photography websites. You’ll need to be able to anticipate what website builders will need photos of, and sell the right pictures. This can be lucrative as the rights to the same picture can be sold over and over.
The niche you choose will depend on you, your skills, and how you want to get into photography. It’s important to build your business around it, to help you attract the right clients.
Make A Business Plan
Now’s the time to create a business plan for your photography venture. This gives you a road map, helping you create goals and see what you want from your new business. It’s important to note you’ll need this if you want to take out a business loan. This may be vital if you’re hoping to but new equipment, such as cameras, lenses or editing software.
As well as this, be aware that if you’re creating a photography business, you’ll need to get a business license from your local licensing authority, as well as a tax identification number. Factor this into your business plan.
Start Making Marketing Materials
You know what kind of photography you want to offer, you’ve handled all the start up paperwork, and you’ve done your business plan. Now, you need to put yourself out there. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to do so. However, you’ll also be up against hundreds of other photographers in your area, so you need to ensure that you’ll stand out.
The first way to get attention is to create a photography portfolio. It’s the most important part of your marketing strategy, as it shows potential buyers just what you can do. It also tells a professional story, one that help describe who you are, and what you can do for the client.
Create an online portfolio, and select the very best of your photography work. Remember to keep updating it too, once you have new work to show.
It’s a good idea to have physical marketing materials, too. For example, get some business cards printed up. The should be full color, and show where people can find your work. They’re very useful when you’re networking, as you can give them to people who may be interested in your work. Brochures with reproductions of your photography are a good idea, too.
Set Up An Invoicing System
This is something you want to have up and running sooner, rather than later. It’s not exciting, but it’s something that will save you a lot of headaches down the line. With the right invoicing system, you’ll be able to ensure that you get paid properly and on time. You can find advice on how to create invoices online, or use software to do so.
Also, ensure that you have a way of tracking your expenses. That will help you when it comes to tax season, as you’ll be able to quickly note how much you’ve spent to run your business.
Set Your Prices
Now you’re ready to set the prices for your work. It’s very important here that you don’t lowball yourself. You’re running a business, and that takes money. You’ll be spending cash on travel, equipment, and so on. That needs to be factored into your costs, as well as the profit that you need to make to keep your business afloat. Put this together, so you know how to quote your first clients.
Start Looking For Clients
Now, you need to find some clients so you can start making money. The way you start soliciting clients will depend on the niche that you’ve chosen for yourself. For example, if you’re a sports photographer, then you’ll want to talk to schools, recreation leagues, and community centers in order to get your start. If you’re getting into commercial product photography, then you’ll go to business trade shows and publications, in order to network and find others working in that niche.
Networking is a huge part of finding clients, no matter what niche you’re working in. There will be industry associations that you can join, such as the Professional Photographers of America. Get involved, and see what links you can make through them. There are always local clubs and groups that you can join too, a great way to find more clients.
Look For Referrals
Once you’ve had your first clients, you’ll be looking to get referrals for your work. These are highly valuable, as people will trust the word of their family or friends when they’re looking for a photographer. If they’re happy with your work, ask them to recommend you to others. Most people will be more than happy to do so.
You can also ask clients to review you online, on services such as Google Reviews and Yelp. These work in a similar way, as they offer social proof that you’re good at what you do. The more reviews you can get, the better. Remember though, you aren’t able to offer rewards or payment for reviews as they have to be impartial. Also, make sure you’re keeping an eye on the reviews, and interacting with people who review you.
Now you have the basics of setting up your photography business. It will take some hard work, making your hobby into a viable business. However, it’s well worth your time, and can even let you ditch the regular 9 to 5 for good. If you want to get started, follow these tips.