In this guide, I show you how to choose who to pitch, how to find the right contact information, and how to craft a winning pitch.
I am a food + product photographer & educator specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable brands. When I am not working with clients, I empower creatives to start their journey by sharing my knowledge on the business of food + product photography.
It’s clear you have a passion for photography, but something (or someone) has convinced you that taking pictures isn’t worth pursuing at a professional level. Nevertheless, if you have a hard time putting down the camera, your photography side hustle might be ready to become a lucrative business.
With a bit more of your attention and a pinch of branding magic, you could be running your own photography business soon enough. Here’s what you need to know!
Before you have a Hollywood moment and try to walk out on your boss, remember that establishing a secure, money-making business takes a little while. Starting your photography side hustle while still working your 9-5 job is a great way to build security for yourself.
Remember, you’ll need an income to pay your bills as you make the big transition from photography side hustle to actual business.
Take a look at your emergency fund, spending habits, assets, and support systems while you’re in the planning phases. Make sure that you have enough money saved to get through the challenge of a new business!
Experts recommend having enough money in the bank to afford your life for six months (or longer). Feel free to plan and take the non-consequential pre-steps while you focus on bulking up your savings. But don’t pull the plug on your current financial security measures until you’re 100% sure you’re ready.
So how do you know you’re ready? Following your passion is one thing, but committing to the hard work of running a business is another entirely! There are a few things to consider before you take the plunge.
Once your savings and expenses are in order, you’re halfway financially ready to grow your photography side hustle into a profitable business. A well-thought-out pricing structure will take you the rest of the way.
Your pricing plan needs to be fair for your clients, but lucrative for you.
Consider the following components:
Brainstorm your financial goals and map out a realistic plan to attain them! Having a concrete strategy in place makes launching your business much easier (and less scary).
To go from photography side hustle to full-on business, you need to make sure you fully master your craft. You need to know how to comfortably shoot in manual mode, and be fine shooting under any lighting conditions and time constraints. You’ll need to wield complete control over your camera!
Artificial light is the arch-nemesis of most photographers. If you can thrive under the heat of artificial bulbs, you may be ready to upgrade your photography side hustle into a business!
That’s not to say you won’t continue to grow as a professional photographer. You just need to evoke the necessary confidence to tackle projects under a variety of nonideal circumstances. Your potential clients will be able to sense if you’re prepared (or not) to handle what you throw at them.
The bottom line? You need to have enough business opportunities to earn the salary (and work the hours) you desire. The number of connections you need to sustain a photography side hustle is starkly different from the number you’ll need as a full-time business owner.
Think about where you’re going to find clients.
How many of your existing connections know other people who might be interested in your services? What resources do you have to advertise your skills? The answers to these questions are important!
It helps to establish several targets for your marketing strategies before you even think about your first campaign. Social media groups or local establishments are good places to explore your potential clients.
Landing multiple one-off clients is great, but building relationships with returning clients shows next-level readiness! If you’ve already become the go-to hire for people in your photography network, you may be ready to go full-time with your business.
Have you started implementing branding or advertising your skills (say, on a website or social media)? Congrats—you’re already dabbling in professional territory.
At this point, not only can you register your business with the IRS for tax purposes, you should.
Registering your business legitimizes your services with incoming clients. You’ll be able to boost your prices a bit more over lesser-established photographers still stuck in “photography side hustle mode.”
It would be irresponsible and impractical to strike out as a business owner with no sense of direction for the exact work you’ll be doing or your exact target audience. You won’t earn more money by marketing to the masses—you need to niche down and narrow your focus before you build your brand.
For example, do you want to photograph for restaurants, magazines, or independent clients? Do you plan on shooting for clients on location or at a headquarters? You need a developed portfolio and vivid client outline before you officially launch.
Check back with our blog in the near future for more tips on how to develop your photography business plan. The more thorough your strategy, the more likely you are to be successful!
Flipping your photography side hustle into a full-flash business is a tremendous undertaking. But you can do it if you consider every factor ahead of time. The main thing about launching your own business: you have to know you’re ready. Take your time and get it right!