You’re a part-time photographer. What started out as an occasional weekend job here and there has been creeping into your every day. You are booked out every weekend, you are spending your weeknights editing and somewhere in there your day job has taken a back seat. There is a niggling feeling that maybe, just maybe, this photography thing needs to become your full-time job. But, how do you know whether to take the leap? After working in this wonderful industry over the last few years, it’s something we have chatted about with photographers a lot. So, here we take a look at some of the things you might need to consider before you make the transition and let that Monday-Friday steady, reliable employment and pay check go by the wayside.

Set yourself up with EVERYTHING you need before you jump

So maybe you need to convert your double garage into a studio. Maybe you need to buy that 35mm art lens. It could be time to update your monitor. Once you are focusing on growing your business, you don’t want to be finding extra cash to update or replace your gear. The time is now. While you still have a full-time income, use your photography on the side income to make sure you are completely set up and won’t need to invest any more funds soon after the transition.

Take the workshop and up-skill

Now is the time to get all your skills fine-tuned. Take the workshop. No matter what your photography genre, investing in a workshop with an inspiring photographer can make all the difference. Learn from those who are already doing what you dream of. And while you are at it, make sure that education includes the ins and outs of running a business. Passion and ability in photography are important, having business skills is ESSENTIAL. Invest in your business knowledge- you won’t regret it. You can check out some of the workshops available in Australia here.

Consider finding a business mentor

Whether it be a business coach (you can find some here) or a photographer or successful business person in your area that you’ve connected with, it can make a real difference to have a sounding board when you are working alone in business. Someone to help keep you motivated, on track and to bounce ideas off. Or even just to grab a coffee with on those hard days! There is so much to gain by collaborating with a mentor.

Get insurance

For some, this seems like a no brainer. But we aren’t just talking about business insurance (and insurance for your camera gear). Consider insuring yourself! Without sick pay, a few weeks off with the flu could see you reach financial breaking point. Spend some time investigating salary continuance insurance and whether it is right for you.

Do your sums

Can you continue your current lifestyle on the money you will make as a photographer? Are you really making money? Make sure you factor in EVERYTHING- gear, insurance, car costs and petrol, an hourly rate for yourself to shoot and edit, website costs, internet costs, computer program costs, marketing costs, hours spent promoting your business, ongoing education costs, props, accounting fees and absolutely all the things involved. Don’t go into this blind, do your research on what your true costs of business are. Consider reviewing your price list and make sure you are covering the costs associated with each shoot with what you are charging. And implement your new price lists for a few months to make sure it’s working the way you want it to before you change over.

Save your pennies

If you want to make this a successful evolution, you need a financial buffer. An emergency fund. You know the old saying, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. While you still have your full time job earning capacity, take the opportunity to bank what you can. It will take the pressure off in those early days!

Be prepared to hustle

And hustle hard. When you are the business, the brand, the artist and the only income generator, be prepared to work for it.

Set the date

Make sure it is at least few months from now. And announce it to the world. Begin spreading the word that you will be taking on more clients. Start your marketing now (and while you are at it, make sure you have planned how you will market your business). Get busy booking in your future clients so when you make the leap you will launch into a full time workload.

Ask your current clients to review you

We chatted in our word of mouth article about why this is so important. Word of mouth marketing INCLUDES reviews. People are seeking the opinions of others, and reading reviews is an easy way for them to get recommendations. 90% of people read reviews before they commit to contacting a business so you need these out there before you let go of your old job and embrace #photographerlife full time.

Schedule some downtime

Making a living when you are the business and the brand can be all consuming. Make sure you schedule in some time in the lead up to have a break and have the energy tanks stocked full before you begin. And ensure that you factor in some time for looking after yourself after you take the leap. Schedule a daily walk, some fresh air and some sunshine. It really can make the difference between make and break on a personal level.

 It really can be such an exciting time beginning a new chapter of full time self-employment in the photography industry! And with some careful planning, you can make sure it will work for you. Are you considering taking the leap yourself? Have you already made the transition to full time photography? Do you have any other tips for those transforming their part-time photography business into their full-time career? We would love you to share any pearls of wisdom you might have collected along your way in the comments below…


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