Some people say it's because they could never give up the great benefits they receive from their company. Some say it's because the amount they charge working part time would never be able to support them full time. Some say it's because running a small business is too risky. Well, whatever the reason for remaining part time, you're right. Here is a common list of things part-time photographers want, and what holds them back from getting them...
Greater Confidence - don't have extra money to spend on workshops
Networking/Learning - don't have time due to other job schedule
Better Equipment - not charging enough to afford it
Want to Charge More - fear that raising prices will reduce amount of work
Take on more work - don't have time due to other job
More Personal Freedom - not charging enough to hire additional help
If this were the only thing you were doing, you would have more time to attend seminars, more time to network and learn from other photographers, and more time to grow your business, give better service, develop more relationships, and take on more clients. When you have more time to spend on your business, you are naturally going to make more money because you'll be taking yourself seriously and so will those around you. You'll start saying, "I'm a photographer" instead of "I also do photography on the side". You'll have more clients who will send you more referrals and share your work with more people.
When you are self-employed, you will value yourself and your time a lot more because you will know exactly what it is worth and what you NEED to in order to support yourself (and/or family), your benefits, and your retirement plan. You will also find that you have the money to buy better equipment, to attend better workshops, and to hire or outsource additional help, giving you more personal freedom. People worry that when they raise their prices, the work will stop coming in- only if you turn it down or do absolutely nothing to attract it! Even if you stayed part time and simply doubled your prices and ended up with only half the amount of work - you're better off because you now have more time and are making more profit for less work! If you still have another job, now is the BEST time to raise your prices and start taking yourself seriously so that it only becomes a matter of weeks or months before you realize how much time you've wasted working for someone other than yourself.
Did you know that working for yourself is actually less risky than working for someone else?
When you work for yourself....
- no one can fire you
- no one can suddenly decide to lay off your department
- no one can downsize your benefits
- no one can determine what age you'll be able to retire
- you control what benefits, doctors, and services you receive
- you control how your retirement money is invested and spent
- no one can fire you for taking time off to deal with family matters
- you can always have the corner office with the view
- you can deduct so much more when it comes to taking care of your business, vs. taking care of someone else's business
- you control how much money you make each month
- the profits you help bring in go to buying you a better house and car, rather than the executive you work for
- you control your vacation and sick time
- you decide how much your time is worth
- you control who you get to work with
- you decide how much you want to work
I'm not a celebrity photographer. I don't charge an obscene amount for my services. I haven't invented any fancy gadget or product to make me millions. I haven't hosted a super expensive workshop. I don't have DVD tutorials for sale. But since I started working full time for myself... I have put more money into my retirement than I ever did when I was working for someone else. I have been able to afford the best equipment, backups, and repairs the exact moment I needed them. I have been able to invest in my education, my confidence, and my network. I have been able to buy sample products even to decide I just didn't like them. I have been able to spoil my favorite clients. I have been able to pay down my debt and loans at a pace that was never possible when I was working for someone else. I have been able to take better care of myself and my health. I've been able to take time to travel with my husband, to spend more quality time with family, and to decide when enough work is enough. I have been able to hire other people to help me when I've fallen behind, or when what I have is too overwhelming. I have been able to continue doing what I love with passion, and to share it all with you.
Once you're ready to go full time, find a mentor. They don't have to be local, though the easier they are to access, the better. While it's nice if they've been in the business for a while, it could be equally helpful to find someone who's in the same position you are so that you can grow and share ideas in a mutual relationship based on helping each other grow- rather than a teaching-centered relationship which tends to be a one-way street. Message boards are a great way to meet people with similar interests. When you're ready to announce to the world that you're open for business, get a great website and read my previous post: "Advertising is like.. *WHOOSH*" to explore easy ways to promote your business and get your name out in the community without spending a ton of money. If you haven't already established your business legally, contact a local business college and ask if they can give you any free resources for small or starting businesses (like free legal guidance). Many states and local governments are also eager to help new businesses get started by offering free or reduced fee small business programs and seminars. Search college business departments as well as local government websites for information. For all of your tax needs, the IRS has created a great free online resource with many different products to help you! Check it out at ==> "Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource".
(Note: this article was originally written in 2007 but is being republished for relevance.)
Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Check out her next workshop at Smarter Business Workshop. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.