7 Useful Tax Deductions for Photography Businesses

tax-deductions-for-photography-businessesLooking forward to filing your taxes on Tax Day? Well, to be earnest, who is? The good news is that, if you own and run a photo biz, there might just be several tax deductions for photography businesses that you are eligible for. Of course, take our advice below as just what it is: friendly advice, dispensed with the best intentions at hear; understand, however, that such advice is not meant to replace professional consultancy from your accountant and/or lawyer. That being said, provided you’ve kept good records of your spending throughout the past fiscal year, here are seven such deductions you should probably look into.

1. Car costs

It’s likely you drive to get to your clients or move around the area, from one shoot to the next. You may be able to pass off your automobile expenses as one of the tax deductions for photography businesses. You can track the mileage on your car, when using it for photography and apply the government’s per-mile rate to each mile driven for photo purposes (the current rate stands at $.565). Alternatively, you can work out the percentage of time that you drive your car for photography business purposes and deduct the costs for that span of time from your overall car maintenance costs.

2. Travel costs

Similarly, you can count all travel expenses that are accounted for and were incurred for your art as tax deductions for photography businesses. Of course, this means you will have to start storing and filing plane tickets, car rental receipts, taxi fare and public transport receipts, restaurant bills, hotel bills, and just about any piece of paper that proves you spent money while away traveling for a shoot.

3. Housing expenses

This one is probably going to come in handy for any photographer that runs a studio or office right out of their own home. You need to calculate how much space inside your home is allotted to your photography business, work out the costs for maintaining that particular amount of space and then file for deductions from your mortgage, home insurance, bills (for electricity, water, and anything else).

4. Office/studio costs

This is one of those tax deductions for photography businesses that’s mutually exclusive with another one – namely, the one listed above. In other words, you can’t get a tax deduction both for a home office/studio and for such a space that you’re renting out elsewhere. However, if you don’t operate your office and/or studio from the comfort of your own home, you will be able to file for a deduction for these separate business expenses.

5. Phone lines

In order to get tax deductions for photography businesses for phone lines, you need to have a separate line that you only use for your photography business. Also, it goes without saying that you need to keep a clear record of the calls you’re making, be they local or long-distance, in order to talk with clients or arrange other aspects that have to do with your business.

6. Internet and site bills

No, you can’t get all your internet bills written off as business expenses, but if you own a site dedicated to your business (and we can only hope that you do, given the fact that this is 2014) a fraction of those costs become deductibles. Figure out how much bandwidth you use for website maintenance, then file for a deduction.

7. Training

Photography is one of those fields in which an ongoing education really goes a long way. That’s why the government sees photography workshops, seminars, and courses as potential tax deduction areas. Keep good track of those expenses and make sure to include them  all, when you file for taxes.

5 Ways Yelp Could Help You Build A Better Photography Studio

When everyone talks about a certain social media site – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter – it’s easy to forget some of the other sites that may impact your business.

What about Yelp?

Launched back in 2004, Yelp is the cornerstone of building a successful online presence. Millions of visitors use this go-to resource to learn how others are talking about local businesses.

And since chances are you are trying to grow your local business, are you doing all you can with your Yelp account?

With over 60 million registered users and over 20 million review on the site, Yelp isn’t “yesterday’s news”. While many think of Yelp as a restaurant’s best friend – and they’re right – over 75 percent of the listings are not restaurant related. Which means while people may be heading to Yelp to find a new place for dinner on Friday night, they are sticking around to find everything local in their lives.

To get started on Yelp, search for your business name. Once you find it, click the link that says “Work here? Unlock this Business Page.” If you have any questions along the way, be sure to check in with Yelp’s support center.

Then take your Yelp presence to the next level. [Read more…]

The Photography Sales Funnel Part Four: How To Put Your Sales Funnel Into Action

In the final chapter of this series on the photography sales funnel we look at how you can begin putting what you’ve learned into action for setting up your own sales funnel. If you haven’t read the first three parts of this series please do so now:

The Photographers Sales Funnel
Generating Leads At The Front Of Your Sales Funnel
Long Term Profits Through Referrals

The Potential Is Larger With A Niche

Once you realize the potential of a sales funnel, which I hope you do by now after following along in this series, you should consider implementing one for your own business.

When you first get started, don’t look at your business as a whole. Instead, look at it in individual pieces, or in niches. Maybe you photograph weddings, events and family portraits. In this case you could look at your business in three distinct ways through all three of your niches.

Each niche will be considered unique because you will be approaching customers and referral sources in different ways using different materials and tools. While they may all require you to have a website, how you move them through the site will take on different approaches for each of the different niches. For example as mother looking to book a family sitting may love looking through wedding images, but she won’t be able to “see” herself in your work. She wants to see other families and how you pose, choose your backgrounds, create packages, etc.

Planning Your Sales Funnel

Once your niches are determined and you are confident you want to bring in a lot of clients in those niches, you can begin work on your sales funnel.

Your main focus should always be on the needs of your customer. When I begin planning out my sales tools, instead of thinking of my niche as a whole, I think of one customer in particular. Don’t think of a “generic” customer. Instead, think of the best client you’ve ever had, the one you would love to have in your studio all the time. Then ask yourself a series of questions.

  • What did you do to attract her? How could you improve on that process?
  • What did she buy? What more could you have sold her?
  • How did you communicate with her during the entire process, including in the present? How could you communicate with her now and into the future?
  • What more could you sell her?

I’m sure just by reading these questions, ideas are popping up. Don’t stop the flow of ideas. Let them come and write them all down. This is how you will build your sales funnel for the future. [Read more…]

4 Home Based Business Myths – Did You Fall For One Of Them?

Ahhhh, living the life of a small business owner working from home. Nothing could be better, right?

There is an underlying expectation that comes with being a home based business owner.

  • You can work when you want, play when you want, sleep when you want.
  • You can work as much (or as little) as you choose.
  • You can do many things at once, including loads of laundry, taking care of home repairs, and watching over the kids.

And of course many more.

The problem with these assumptions is they simply aren’t fact; they are the “dream” people associate with running their own businesses out of their home. There are many misconceptions about what it takes to run a business out of your home; see if you’ve fallen for any of these myths, and learn what you can do change the outcome.

Anyone can start up a successful home based business

While anyone can start up a home based business at any time, not everyone will succeed. Success isn’t something your build over night; which means the majority of people that start small businesses out of their homes are in for months, even years of hard work in order to begin seeing success. Are you up for the challenge?

Dig Deeper: 8 Ways To Know If Your Are Meant To Be a Business Owner

When you start up a new business, there is a ton to take in. Some of it will be great advice, others not so much. The key is learning to filter out what works – and what doesn’t. Over time you’ll begin learning from everything you do, and applying it in a way that helps you grow just a little bit all the time. Once you start making money on a regular basis, and can see the effects what you do has on your bottom line – that’s when success finally happens. [Read more…]

3 Reasons Most Wedding Photographers Fail

We’re one of the few photography companies that actually created a lucrative business out of catering to the wedding industry. In less than two years, we went from a general photography company to one that specialized in wedding photography, making well into the Six Figure level. Then we doubled our business. And again.

But it wasn’t always like that.

In the beginning, we did what every other wedding photographer does.

We decided to offer wedding related services. We created our first wedding brochure. And we charged and shot pretty much like every other wedding photographer out there.

Dig Deeper: Doubt To Confidence: What Was Your Magical Moment?

But very quickly something started to change.

We studied what the top names in the industry were doing. We learned from the best. And we quickly changed and grew. And we discovered 3 things that most wedding photographers did that were actually holding them back. [Read more…]

5 Big Ticket Items Photographers Pay For, Then Seldom Use

Yesterday I announced that we had moved from our large suburban home, to an urban condo environment, decreasing our space down to one third of our large home size.

When you do that kind of downsizing, you really start looking at what you’ve put in the back rooms, in the closets, and in the garage, yet have seldom picked up since you purchased it. What’s even more distressing is the items you find in their original packaging. Did you really need it if you never even opened it?

While an occasional office supply is one thing, when it’s a big ticket item, it’s a whole different issue. Imagine what you could have done with that money if you hadn’t invested in that purchase?

As we were looking through things, listing items on Craigslist, and giving things away, we discovered 5 things that we invested in, yet seldom used.

Camera Doodads

If you’ve ever gone to a photography convention, you’ve probably fallen for the shiny object syndrome. When you walk up and down the aisles, caught up in all the sights and sounds projected straight towards you, it’s easy to fall for it. Companies promise miracles, and great tools, gadgets and doodads that will improve your photography, or help you run your business more efficiently.

So you invest in a doodad or two. Two becomes twenty. And so on. Pretty soon you have boxes in your spare closet full of shiny doodads, many unopened and untouched. [Read more…]

10 Myths About Becoming A Portrait Photographer

One of the easiest businesses to set up is a portrait photography business. With a camera and a business card, you can start finding clients anywhere in your community. Right?

Actually, it’s not quite that simple. While many photographers get started that way, and can find a handful of clients just with the people they know, the tough part comes after those first few clients. How do you find more? How do you build a sustainable business?

If you’ve been struggling with building your own portrait studio, see if you are falling into one of the traps below.

Myth #1 One camera is all I need

When you first got into photography, chances are it was with one camera body, and maybe a lens or two. That works when you don’t have to rely on it. But what if it quits working in the middle of a paid shoot? Or what if you leave your camera and a lens on a tripod to move in and adjust your client … and the entire thing collapses, leaving pieces scattering everywhere? Backups are mandatory when you are a professional.

Myth #2 I’m a natural light photographer and don’t need flash

Have you ever seen people advertise they are a natural light photographer? What does that really mean? We personally built our business off of natural light photographs too – in fact I highly prefer the look. But there are many times when you simply don’t have the natural light you need for a professional shot. An on camera flash won’t cut it. You need to be able to separate the flash, use flash in a variety of ways, and use it to highlight and amplify the look of your work. And you have to know how to use it.

Myth #3 Everyone will see the difference between me and my competition

When you look at your work, you view it through your own eyes, and see it with all the love and passion it took to create it. Yet most of your potential customers get lost when they view your work and try to compare it to the next guy. If you build a website just like everyone else; if you put a handful of images into a gallery portfolio just like everyone else; if you use the same words in your advertising just like everyone else; your prospects won’t be able to separate you from your competition. [Read more…]

7 Common Time Management Mistakes

So you work out of your home, and you’re wondering why the business isn’t as strong as it should be. Is your business really your top priority?

While I love working out of my home and wouldn’t trade it for anything, you have to be disciplined to make sure everything works.

Perhaps you feel overloaded, that there is so much to do you’ll never catch up. Or maybe you live for the crisis to appear, dreading it all the way. This is the first sign of failure. If you let this feeling of overwhelm seep in, you’ll quickly be on a downward spiral instead of building for the future.

Take charge now. If any of these pitfalls are affecting you now, its time to make a change.

Mistake #1 Failing To Keep A To Do List

Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you are missing something? If so, you probably don’t use a to do list in order to keep things prioritized. Many people think to do lists are a sign of weakness, or a sign of a bad memory. Not true at all. Instead, a to do list keeps you balanced and focused. And helps you prioritize what you will do during the day, and what should take precedence over everything else.

Dig Deeper: How To Create a To Do List You Actually Stick With And Do

Mistake #2: Not Setting Personal Goals

It’s easy to establish business goals. In fact you probably have a list of them in your office. Even if it’s a short list, business goals come easy as we are focusing in on our businesses. But what about your personal goals? What are your business dreams going to do to help you achieve all you want out of life?

Business goals help you establish the type of lifestyle you’ve dreamed about. But once you have the funding within the business, your personal goals are what give your life meaning. Do you want a one month family vacation every summer? Or to be able to buy your dream house? Or maybe send your kids to the colleges of their choice?

Create both sides of your dream, and use it to define what you do every day. The bigger and more concrete your dreams are, the better chance you have of achieving them.

Mistake #3: Not Prioritizing

Everyone has things they love to do, and things they hate. When your to do list is filled with both, you’ll quickly move the things you love to the top of your list – unless you prioritize.

I once worked with a business owner who hated phone calling. In fact she would do whatever she could to avoid picking up the phone. She admitted it up front to me, so we knew that was her weakness. While I never advise anyone to take up cold calling, there are times when it’s important to call “strangers” and make a connection.

If this business owner has a task of “calling” on her list, it will always be at the bottom. Even if she has to choose between “taking out the trash” and “calling the potential customer”, she would prefer the trash.

When you realize this, you have to change what you do. You have to prioritize your to do list, and start doing the things you hate if they should be at the top of your list. It’s the only way you’ll grow. [Read more…]

Location Location Location – Is It Everything For A Photography Business?

“I’m in the stage now that I need an actual location. My question to you is how important is the actual location of the studio? The reason I ask is because I fell in love with this particular building and the price is right but the location isn’t too great. It’s outside the city a couple miles and off the beaten trail so I wouldn’t get any drive by business. I have excellent marketing skills and ideas though. Would that be enough? Or is my business going to fail before it even has a chance because of the bad location?” ~Heather

Great question Heather. There are actually several ways to look at this, and you made several references in your email that I will address to help you along your process.

Is location important?

If you talk to anyone in real estate, they tell you the only important thing is location, location, location. And I agree.

But different businesses have different ways of addressing the location issue.

A fast food restaurant, for instance, depends on quantity. They need as many people as possible coming through their drive thru every single day. If they aren’t near a large area of population with easy access to the main thoroughfare, they won’t stay in business.

Yet for photography businesses, it’s completely different.

Is drive by traffic important?

The first thing to think about is if you really want drive by business. If you are running your business like a big box store, where you need an ever-flowing client base coming through your doors, this is important. But if you plan on keeping your photography business very customized, working with just a few select clients a day, drive by traffic loses its value. [Read more…]

Can Your Photography Business Be A Lifestyle Business?

Chances are you’ve been seeing the word “lifestyle” much more in the general media.

I’ve seen lifestyle malls, lifestyle TV, and lifestyle consumers. I’ve also seen it attached to “photography” and “business” again and again.

According to Wikipedia, they define:

Lifestyle Photography: a style of photography which aims to portray real-life situations in a controlled setting. Lighting is bright, airy and natural-looking. There are many commercial applications including magazine editorial and advertising usage.

Lifestyle Business: Businesses that are set up and run by their founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.

So when you combine the two, from my viewpoint you get: [Read more…]