If you’re here, it’s because you’re trying to learn all of the things to know before running a photography company. While this isn’t an attempt to dissuade you from this aspiration, a budding business owner must understand this intense venture. A couple of years ago, USA Today announced that being a photographer was considered one of the thirty worst careers. It was number twenty-five, to be exact. Yet, the industry is inundated with bright-eyed, optimistic people who think they can make thousands of dollars almost immediately with a nice camera. Unfortunately, it’s almost guaranteed that these people have no real concept of what it takes to run a successful photography company. This list will break down the top five things to know before running a photography company that you may not have considered.
One of the top things to know before running a photography company, especially in America, is that taxes can become complicated quickly. Most people don’t understand that not only are they beholden to the general tax system, but they also have to pay a fifteen per cent small business tax. That means the government will snatch up almost fifty per cent of your income. When people think they can make $3k on a wedding, they don’t understand how much of that won’t line their pockets. This doesn’t even consider the sales, payroll, and state taxes required to run a legitimate business. It adds up into a depressing reality. Word of caution: do not try to skimp on taxes. The IRS is always looking for ways to snatch up income. Recently, a photographer that never paid taxes had all of their assets frozen and received a $30k back taxes bill. It might be tempting to avoid losing parts of your income, but that game of chance isn’t worth it.
Speaking of write-offs, the amount of money it takes every month to run a successful company in one of the most competitive industries in the world is higher than you might think. While most companies don’t invest in a brick-and-mortar studio, there are still programs upon programs that require monthly investment. This includes a client relationship management (CRM) program. If you’re serving more than a couple of clients a month, it’s a must. Then you have gallery hosting programs, accounting programs, editing software fees, storage hosts for all of the large files, email listing programs, and so much more. On average, expect to spend between $300-$500 a month on various programs. This, of course, does not include the annual or lifetime fees of other programs. On average, expect around 10% of your income to be dedicated to these required programs.
The inevitable grind of a competitive industry is the reason why most photographers never make it past the first three years of business. One of the major things to know before running a photography company is the time investment required. We’re talking fifty+ hours a week…if you’re lazy. A saying goes along the lines of, “entrepreneurs work sixty hours a week to avoid the forty-hours grind.” The amount of networking, social media care, website management, and of course, furthering your education—it’s a massive undertaking. The learning curve to photography is steep if you want to maintain competitiveness, especially with gear’s affordability.
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Do you have an active social life? Kiss it goodbye, because a lot of photography work happens during the evenings and weekends. You have to work around your client’s free time, which usually means the free time you’re used to. You need to understand how this will affect your personal relationships. On top of that, shooting is less than ten per cent of the activities you’ll be engaged in. Editing, depending on the person, can take hours upon hours. This is critical to consider when it comes to starting a photography company.
You can also check out these photo galleries from Amy Gray Photography for more inspiration.
If you have zero experience in customer care, this will be quite the challenge. It can quickly become one of the top disadvantages of a photography company. “The customer is always right” is continuously challenged, depending on what market and clientele you’re pursuing. Expect unreasonable requests. Anticipate rude responses. Understand that you cannot engage them on the same level. Instead, you have to grin and bear the treatment (within reason). You must understand how to make things right, even if it’s painful and costs money. And also, you can check out the amazing collection of maternity dresses for the photoshoot on Blue Sugar Photo. One of the unspoken things to know before running a photography company is the impact of reviews. Nowadays, any entrepreneur can lose their business off a handful of scathing words.
Despite the disadvantages of a photography company, it can also be advantageous. There is freedom from corporate America and the capability to make a brand that suits your own personality. There is no income ceiling, as well. Every dollar you earn is proof of the stress and hard work. Now that you’ve researched the things to know before running a photography company, it’s time to go out there and grind. Make your dreams happen!
About the Author:
Jenna Avery – My name is Jen and boy, I’m straight up *obsessed* with two nerdy things: Harry Potter (Ravenclaw) and Pokemon (Level 39). In my free time, I’m an aspiring author and devour all sorts of books.
Instagram – @creatrixphotography