12 Reasons You Shouldn’t Start Your Own Photography Business

Chances are you could come up with a dozen reasons why you should make the jump and start and grow a photography business. There are a ton of benefits to it:

  • You can choose your own hours
  • You can choose which clients to work with
  • You can what field to specialize in
  • You can set your own prices and control how much you make

While it’s easy to come up with a list of why you should start your own photography business, is there a list on why you shouldn’t? Can you look at it from another perspective, and decide if you are approaching your business ideas the wrong way?

Let’s take a look at some of the worst reasons to go into business for yourself.
Starting a photography business at home.

Reason 1. Get More Work Done Around The House

I’ve worked from home for years and love the benefits. But the biggest trap to fall into is assuming you can do a load of laundry, clean up a room, or do a few chores in between working.

Work time is work time. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in an office complex or in a spare bedroom. You’ll get easily distracted, and end up getting very little done if you don’t put all your focus into your business during work hours. The laundry can wait until “after hours”.

Reason 2. Spend More Time With The Kids/Family

Unless you are planning to work part-time on your business, you’ll have to decide where your priorities lie. If a phone call comes in and the baby is crying, where would your focus turn? It takes motivation and attention to build a business. In order to get any work done, you can’t rely on a 30-minute television show as a distraction. All you’ll find yourself with is frustration.

Reason 3. Get Rich Quick

We all have visions of finding the perfect client that is a constant buyer. Or having a service that people rave over, and refer to to everyone in town. Yet those success stories are few and far in between. While you can make a healthy living from it, it’s going to take time, effort and energy along the way.

Reason 4. You Love Photography

Being in love with photography is a great start. But you also have to love business, production, sales, and marketing. It takes so much more to run a business – not just the love of photography. You have to have a strong desire to learn a little bit about everything.

Reason 5. You Can Charge Whatever You Want

In theory, you can set your prices however you choose. But you have to be sure you have a market for your pricing, and your pricing is enough to help you earn a healthy living. There’s a fine line between the two.

Reason 6. You’ll Have Less Expenses

Working at home sounds like a dream. You won’t be spending money on gas to get to work, clothes for the office, or lunches out with co-workers. Yet running a business even out of your home will give you a variety of other expenses. Camera equipment is just the beginning. You’ll have marketing and advertising expense, networking expense, and educational training to make you better at what you do.

Reason 7. Running A Business From Home Is Easy

It sounds great, and many people dream of the opportunity. But working from home takes discipline. You have to draw a distinct line between personal or family time and work time. You can’t put something off until later just because you have access to your office 24 hours a day. Building your own business definitely has its rewards, but you have to be ready for hard work too.

Reason 8. Work Will Just Come To You

“I have a website, where are the people?” “I sent out a postcard, why isn’t my phone ringing?” Along the way you are going to ask questions like this every day. The cold fact is marketing is a shot in the dark at best. Some things will work; some won’t. You have to consistently work at it in order to bring in customers. Even when your studio is filled with customers and you can’t imagine one more in your day, you STILL have to market for the weeks and months ahead. Work will never just come to you – you will always have to work at keeping it coming.

Reason 9. No Boss!

Ahh, the best reason of all. No one above you to give you bad reviews, or to break the news that you’ll be receiving a pay cut. Or worse, a pink slip. The idea of working for ourselves is amazingly attractive. You can do what you want, when you want to. But if you don’t stay motivated and keep yourself productive, you’ll never make it as a business owner.

Reason 10. You’ll Have More Free Time

The idea sounds great. You can take off an hour early to catch your child’s soccer game. You can choose to head out to lunch with a friend. But instead of sharing a job with other people, knowing someone else on staff will get stuff done if you call in sick, you are on your own. If something is due out to a client in the morning, you have to stay and get the job done – even if it takes until midnight or beyond. It’s all on your shoulders, and you must work to get everything completed in a timely manner. Procrastination can literally kill your business.

Reason 11. You’ll Have More Security

In today’s world of job redundancies, heading out on your own can be very appealing. In fact, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yet it still can produce daily stress. Will someone ask for a refund? Will today’s clients call up and cancel? The questions are always there. In order to build up security, you’ll have to rely on your own determination and put a little money on the side in case of emergencies down the road.

Reason 12. Your Family Will Be Proud

I come from a family of workers. No entrepreneurial spirit in my background! So I know first hand that you’ll never get support and backing from your family in the early years. They don’t understand what you are doing, and have no idea of the possibilities. Instead they see you as being more free and able to connect with them on their schedule. If they have a day off, why can’t you spend the day with them? It may be quite a while before they understand what you do. Don’t look for support until they fully understand every aspect.

Summing Up

In the end, you have to take into consideration both the advantages and disadvantages before starting your business. Even if you are confident in your own abilities and think you are on the right track, having a backup plan to help you reorient yourself in the case of an unfortunate event is always a wise step. Tailor your business according to the advantages and disadvantages you think might apply to you and have your all your sides covered. If you remember to protect yourself in any type of situation, there is no reason for you not to succeed.

Image source: depositphotos.com

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • Julio Tellechea

    Great post! So true, reminds me my past life I now want to get back!:) I may add on #9 thaf a customer could be or act like a boss? In particular when you can not hide your need of money coming soon so badly…

    Kind regards,
    Julio

  • Jeff Gegner

    One BIG reason to not start your own photo business.

    Mother of the Bride!!!

    Have a friend that has been doing it for 30 years. Some of his bride mother stories make you cringe.

  • Hi Jeff – LOL! Oh yes, I have many mother of the bride stories myself.

  • So true. I am on my own for 3 years now and it takes a lot of discipline and hard work to survive. The hardest part is fighting that procrastination…. looks like I am not too successful at this very moment 😉

  • George Lucas MPA

    My wife and I ran a very successfully photography business in NW Ontario from our home for about 15 years. Closed it down 20 years ago. We virtually could charge what we wanted and other photographers would wait for us to raise our prices before they raised theirs which were usually lower than ours. For example just before we closed down we were charging $85.00 per hour portal to portal for industrial work (which was our main business).. We did no more than one candid wedding a week and averaged about $3,000 per wedding with a profit after all expenses (including operating the studio) of 60%
    We also had our own color darkroom

    Why did we close down?
    Long hours. We once worked 36 hours non stop printing nursing graduates photographs to meet their deadline. If we had a wedding at the weekend it meant that we were into a 6 day week. Being tied to the business by wedding commitments. Some bookings were 3 years in advance and we even had a bride’s book their wedding date around our previous commitments.
    They were great years but they took their toll and I lost the enjoyment of photography so we decided to closed down and for a few years after we closed the business I very rarely took a photograph.

    My advice for running your business from home.
    Control your hours
    Do not charge less because you are not paying rent or a mortgage on a commercial studio.
    Keep your business separate from your home life
    Post regular hours and make sure that customers know that the cannot turn up Sunday morning or on a holiday . I one had the area Manager of Ontario Hydro (who were a good industrial client) ask me to photograph a family group during the Christmas break. I told him no as it was our holiday also and we always closed between Christmas and New Year. He respected that and I never lost any business
    Make sure that you take three weeks holiday per year from the start. That does not include Christmas.
    Do not let photography take over your life.
    Do not feel that your business is any less inferior to a studio in a commercial business
    One on the most important join the Professional Photographers of Canada and attend their conventions

    Indecently I was back into photography about 5 years later running one of the last industrial photography departments in the country at deHaviland Aircraft. Now retired

  • Thanks George for your insight. I couldn’t agree more!
    Lori

  • Thanks so much for this post, I’m in the infancy stages of decision – start a photography business or simply continue as a hobby.

  • Good luck with your photography Vaughn.

  • SimpleCameraReviews.com

    I completely agree. Those people whom I have seen actually pull off owning their own photography business, did it on the side for many years. You need to build your reputation or else you’ll just be another local photographer with nothing to back yourself up. Again, great reasons poster!

  • Thank you for the entry. And I too could not agree more with the contents and comments. There is a very very fine line between living your dream and passion (I left my 20 year corporate career to become a full time photographer) and running a business with the ability to keep all the multifaceted parts moving at all times, in a successful fashion. Especially in today’s economy the test is real and frightening at times. The ability to reinvent yourself and to stay motivated and moving forward and upward on a daily basis is essential for survival…

  • John Miller

    Your advertisers must love that you wrote this.

    Did they pay you to write it? (oh wait)

  • This very helpful. I like the way tis twitter laid his thoughts. I’m in a process of building my own photography business with this topic I’m more confident to push y own services to the public. Please visit my website and let e know what you think through my twitter account. Drop me a line @makemeacom

  • PIOTRPOCIECHA

    I wish I had found this a long time ago, it would have been very useful, but I have to say to anyone who does read this article, don’t base your decisions on an internet article, everyone has a different experience in any field they pursue. Although this article would have made it easier for me, I recommend failing, because if you never fail, you’ll never truly learn. Much like the rules of photography, they’re only a foundation but nothing is ever set in stone. I’ve learned all of these reasons the hard way and I’ve corrected them, yet still I’ve got quite a ways to go, even applying these reasons to your business will not ensure a successful photography business. If theres anything you should know about starting a business, it’s to never get your hopes up.

  • I agree. I think much of what has brought me success in my life has come from my failures. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. Its only your failures that help you figure out what’s best for you and makes you move to the next level.
    Thanks for your insight.
    Lori

  • Great Reading….I would say most photographers fail not because of their photography ability but there lack of online marketing skills. Like SEO getting on the first page of Google for your keywords. Then Separating yourself from all the competition when you get on top…… is key.

  • Veronica Salazar

    Great post. Very helpful for me and my husband starting our own photography business. Also, thanks to all those how gave their insights. That helps big time.

  • RV

    That’s pretty sad if your family isn’t backing you up or supporting your dreams. For me personally I can fail at any new task I reach for and they’ll be cheering me on the whole time. I think these points are valid but to remember that you’ll never succeed if you don’t go for it. Starting part time and not needing to rely on it to pay all of your bills is key. It does take a while to have customers just “coming to you” and you have to know your market and where you fit in it!

  • Andrea

    this is a great post, I wish I had read it 2 years ago. The whole family support thing was the hardest for me. Though my husband was supportive the rest of the family really didnt get what I was doing. I didnt understand why they weren’t proud of me for chasing my dream.