4 Signs it’s Time to Turn Your Photography Hobby into a Business
Are wondering if you should turn your photography hobby into a professional photography business? It is very common for photographers who have been shooting for a while to reach that point.
If that sounds like you, keep reading. I will delve into several signs that it might be the right time for you to go professional.
First, let me clarify a few things:
- Keep in mind, “Professional” doesn’t ALWAYS mean full time. Many successful photographers run their business as a side or part-time job. This article addresses the process of becoming a FULL-TIME photographer.
- Even if you don’t make photography your occupation, if you are collecting money from clients, you will need to claim that income to the IRS. That said, I am definitely not an expert in taxes or the legality of business entities in different states or countries. If you have questions about that, please consult your lawyer or accountant.
Now let’s get down to business!
Sign #1. Demand is Outweighing Your Availability
So you’re booked to the gills and turning away clients left and right. Congratulations! You’re obviously in very high demand. But trying to squeeze in sessions during a small amount of free time can be a stressful endeavor.
Draw out a weekly schedule for how things are going now. Is there room to improve or condense your current workflow so you can take on more clients?
Now create a hypothetical schedule for how your week might look if photography was your only job. Are you able to fill a good chunk of your time with work? How many more sessions would you need to book to stay busy?
Sign #2. Running a Photography Business Excites You
Remember that the actual photoshoot portion will probably account for around 10% of what you will be doing in any given week. You have to be excited about:
Okay, maybe “excited” is too ambitious of a word. But the thought of doing these things for 90% of your week shouldn’t terrify or depress you.
Sign #3. You Spend All Your Free Time on Photography
It’s great to have a hobby that you love. But when you love photography more than your current job, you spend every waking moment working on it or thinking about it, and your family and friends rarely see you anymore, it may be time to consider making it your job!
And once photography is your full-time job, you can set your own specific work hours and create a better work-life balance. You might even have time for a new hobby!
Sign #4. It’s Financially Justifiable
It may come at the end of the list, but this one is really the MOST IMPORTANT! You should never make this kind of career change without running all of the numbers and making sure its financially viable.
What it comes down to is this: if your new photography career can earn you the kind of income you need to live the lifestyle you want, then there really isn’t much else standing in your way.
What if you want to quit your current job to pursue photography full time, but you don’t have a lot of clients yet?
You will need to analyze your expenses and income without the paycheck from your current gig and set a budget.
- How much money do you have in reserves?
- How long can you survive with no paycheck without cutting into your reserves too much?
- Come up with a plan for when you need to start bringing in a paycheck, and then devise an aggressive strategy to get more clients by that date.
- Create a paycheck plan. Even if it’s ridiculously small at first (like $50 per week), it’s nice to start somewhere and you will feel like you’re earning wages again.
Of course, there are a bunch of perks to being a full-time photographer. You will be able to:
- make your own hours
- work from home (in your pajamas!)
- choose your own clients
- be your own boss
- write off expenses
All of that aside, it takes a lot of hard work and a major leap of faith to pursue photography full-time. It may or may not be the time to make the jump right now, but keep your eyes open for these signs to line up. Then it may be time to just take a chance and go for it!
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