When Darren launched the new dPS ebook – Going Pro recently, he said that the majority of the emails he gets are about how to start making money as a photographer. Ditto, Darren! The eBook is amazing and gives you so much of the information you may be craving. What I’d like to talk about today is the realities of going pro and the one thing you need to do to safely quit your day job.
With the proliferation of affordable DSLRs, photography has quickly become a business-in-a-box for many. Although camera equipment is expensive, this can be a relatively low overhead business to run once you have acquired your gear and this makes it appealing for those who see it as a great way to finance a very expensive hobby or have a flexible part-time job. I find it so funny when folks think I’m rich because I charge £2k for a wedding. What they don’t realize is that I have to pay for insurance, hired equipment, my assistant, petrol, the cost of producing the end-product, etc. In total, I make a pretty decent income, but not a giant one.
It’s so super important that you not get into this business out of either desperation or lethargy. I know so many young people who see people like myself and other young(ish) business people and want to be successful too. They’re desperate for money but instead of getting a day job and building their business on the side, they wait for a big break to fall into their lap and it rarely ever does. What they don’t realize is that business people are hard workers. We have to hustle for the money and work really hard to keep it coming. I know a wedding photographer who does two weddings every weekend and still has his day job.
So, yes…it has to be talked about…the dreaded day job. This is where your photography business building success starts. When you have an income that’s not related to your photography business, you are free to build something that will last. You won’t make rash or unreasonable decisions out of desperation and you will be able to approach your new venture with a clear head. Albeit, a tired one, but it’s better to slowly build your empire than to get a domain name, a limited company and a giant loan all in one day.
While you’re working your day job, start your business slowly in the way all businesses -photography related or not- start. Decide what you actually want to be shooting (find your market), formulate a business plan, build a portfolio and begin building your business brick by brick. You will start making a small income and as you build, it will grow. Eventually, it will begin to rise towards the amount you make in your job. Then, it will begin to overlap with your normal day job income. This is when you can start to cut back on your job and carefully work your business more. And one day, the photography business will overtake the day job and you’ve done it! You have become a full-time pro without risking life and limb (and missing quite a few meals and water bills).
So be safe, make sensible decisions and enjoy your life as a professional photographer!