If you’re like me, photography is something you want to do forever. But, you also want to earn some cash on the side (or maybe even full time) through taking photos. This post is going to help you understand how to turn your hobby into a photography business.
Well, I was at your place once & I know how it can feel: hopeless, confusing, frustrating *insert whatever sad adjective you want*. I’m here to tell you that you can make money from your photography and it’s actually quite easy.
I’ve outlined six steps to get you to the point where you can realistically start charging people to take their photos (woo hoo, yay business!).
Step 1: Priority Check
First of all, you need to define why you want to make money from photography. So this step is to help you check your motives. Ask yourself this:
Are you passionate about photography?
If you didn’t get paid, would you still want to be a photographer?
These are important questions to ask yourself before you dive deep into pursuing photography as a career. If you don’t truly love photography, then this career probably isn’t for you (not to be a buzz kill). Being a photographer as a career is absolutely exhausting, but is SO worth it in the end because we, as photographers, love our jobs more than anything.
You simply need to be committed to pouring time, energy, and make sacrifices in order to continue in photography as a means of making money.
Okay, can you agree with me that you’re passionate about photography? Awesome, let’s keep going!
Step 2: Find Your Niche
The first step to making money from your photography is establishing what you’d like to capture.
What do you love to capture? Couples? Landscapes? Individuals? Events?
Side note: I’m not saying that a couples photographer cannot also do family sessions or take landscape photos, but I am saying that the more specific you make your photography, the easier it will be to target your ideal clientele through marketing.
For me, I love taking photos of couples and telling a story through my photographs—so there’s not a doubt in my mind that couples and wedding photography are my forte. Now, I still do senior sessions and other miscellaneous shoots, but I’m really not advertising for these types of sessions. Wedding photography is where I want my focus to be.
Step 3: Build Your Portfolio
A picture is worth a thousand words and when you want to turn your photography into a profitable business, you must have photos to show potential clients. Here are some ways to build your portfolio:
- Ask your friends to model for you
- Attend a local photography workshop (make sure models will be present so you have a chance to shoot)
- Meet up with other photographers for a photo swap
- Offer free sessions
Make sure your portfolio reflects your target niche market, and only pick the best of the best for your portfolio.
Display Your Portfolio
You’ll want to have a digital platform to show any potential client that you mean business! Your portfolio should be easy to access and free from ads, just to ensure you don’t scare anyone away.
Step Four: Establish Your Pricing
There’s a few things you want to consider when you first start pricing your services as a photographer.
- How much do you want to make per hour?
- How many images do you want to provide?
- How long will it take you to shoot the photos?
- How long will it take you to edit the photos?
- Will your clients need to make a down payment?
Then, you’ll want to check out other, more experienced, photographers and see how much they charge. You shouldn’t use their packages as a number to copy, but rather, to see what an average photographer charges & charge less (since you’re first starting out).
Wherever your portfolio is displayed, make sure you have a place where potential clients can see how much you charge—or even a contact method that can direct a new customer right to your email (like a fun contact form).
Step Five: Push Your Product
This is such a simple concept, but many have a hard time following through with this: people won’t know about your photography unless you show or tell them.
Here’s a few ways to get the word out about your photography:
- Make social media pages for your photography
- Update your pages regularly
- Post about discounted sessions
- Put your info on Facebook marketplace
- Make a free photography profile on Yelp.com
- Run Instagram ads
- Get featured on photography accounts
- Submit your photos to blogs
- Join photography Facebook groups (Dirty Boots and Messy Hair, Beloved Stories Community, etc.)
- Do a giveaway to gain more followers
- Have other photographers or people in general give your page a shoutout
- Put your photos on a stock website.
Step Six: Book Your Clients
When you start to get inquiries, you’ll want to book…book…and keep booking! The more photos you can take at first, the better you’ll get and the more you can start raising your prices.
Booking clients is fairly simple: find a date that works best for both of you, pick a time, location, and land on a price (if you’re open to negotiation).
Don’t forget: practice makes you better!
The more time you spend getting better at photography, the more likely you are to grow your clientele. Remember to be yourself and make your business your own. You’ll never regret staying true to yourself, and in an industry with so many other contenders, it’s absolutely essential to be 100% yourself & not somebody else.
Now, I believe in you – you can do this. Go conquer this thing!