Today’s episode on the Book More Clients Photography Podcast, I’m sharing 3 steps to make your photography business official.
In today’s episode on the Book More Clients Photography Podcast, we’re discussing 3 easy steps to make your photography business official.
Today’s episode is inspired by questions I see in the Facebook group. This one seems to plague a lot of people, “How do I actually make my photography business official?”
I’m going to be sharing 3 steps to make your photography business official. They’re super simple, you could do all three in a day.
But first, let’s go back to the early days of my business. I remember being in this boat of constantly feeling like I’m just trying to figure it all out. I didn’t have a clue on how to do anything. Terrified of taxes, terrified of all the horror stories you hear about: “If you’re not an LLC, this could happen to you.” or “You could get sued and lose your car.” I’ve heard it all. The nightmare stories are what made me so fearful to do something wrong.
I I laugh now, because looking back, I totally get it. What I’m going to share with you today, I hope will get you out of that fear; push that fear to the side and make your business official because there’s really nothing too big and too scary that you can’t handle. The steps are really simple. I know it can seem complicated. You can be so worried that you’re going to do something wrong. I was constantly afraid that I was going to make one wrong move or sign up for something and it was just going to be the end-all-be-all to my business. I promise it’s not that scary.
These three steps are super simple and we are going to get you official.
The very first thing that you need to do is you need to pay taxes. Report your income to the IRS. If you want to be taken seriously in your business, you need to run your photography hobby as a business, right? You either have a hobby thing on the side or you’re going to treat it like a business because it is a business and because you care about it so much, right? It’s something that you know you need to do in order to grow, in order to charge more, in order to be taken seriously and really make a name for yourself for people trust you and rave about you.
It all goes back to how you’re operating your business. I will be the first to tell you that when I tried to work with someone and they tried to tell me. “Awesome, you could just Venmo me the $400” I’m like “No, like that’s not happening.” If it’s a business account, okay, I might let that one slide and I might do it. But the fact that there was no invoice or there was no process? I’m not saying you have to have some complicated process.
When I can start seeing some red flags, and it makes me start to question, “Are you even reporting your income to the IRS?” I want to support people who are truly running a business. I know many of you are the same way. If you came to me for a coaching session, or you came to me for some family session, and I was like, “Yeah, I only do cash or I only do cash up” or something like that you would start to have red flags. You would start to wonder, “Is my money protected? Am I really going to show up and be a service provider?”
I want you to know that if you choose not to make your business official, and actually run it the way that you should, this is what you’re going to come up against. This could be the very reason that people are like, “Yeah, never mind. I’m gonna work for somebody else.” It happens all the time. I Your biggest fear is, “Well, if I report my income, how much am I going to owe in taxes?” And you know what? Here’s the big thing – it’s no secret of what you’re going to owe. There’s no secret.
If you are tracking your income and your expenses on a monthly or quarterly basis – if you’ll just sit down, and look at everything you had to pay for, all the money going out of your business account, all the money coming in, what sessions you had and how much you were paid for it – there’s no secret. You’re going to set aside 30% of what you earned. You’re going to put it into a tax savings account. Let it sit there all year until tax season rolls around. Then, you’re either going to pay the IRS that money, or they are going to issue you a refund check if you qualify for that.
There’s nothing scary about it. You can learn all the legalities and all the things right? I’m not a tax accountant. I’m just giving you off the wall advice. There’s nothing scary about it. There’s plenty of resources for you to look into. One of my favorite resources is Katy Ferro.
If you’re like, “I don’t know how to track my income and expense”. It’s super simple. Use a spreadsheet, use a Google Doc, whatever you want. There’s plenty of resources out there. Do a quick Google search. I’ll drop my favorite spreadsheet down in the show notes for you.
Number one, you need to be reporting your income to the IRS. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making. If you want to run a business legitimately, you want to run a business that is full of trust and honor and loyalty – you got to do what the government says you should be doing. We’re gonna leave it at that.
Here’s the cool thing. For most of you, there’s no paperwork that you even have to fill out until tax season. You’re literally going to tell your CPA that, “Hey, here’s my photography business name, here’s my transactions”, you’re gonna hand over that spreadsheet that you’ve been tracking all year long and you’re gonna say, “Here’s everything that you need.” Or you’re gonna have a bookkeeper who does all that for you.
As soon as you’re profitable, as soon as you can afford to, I want you to become an LLC. The only reason you want to really do this is because you want to be protected. You want to separate your personal assets from your business assets. Just in case something ever does happen, you’re fully protected. There’s also really good benefits that come along with being an LLC. Again, I’m not your accountant. I’m not a tax representative. I’m your friend telling you, here’s some good advice and what you should do. That’s all you have to do. It’s so simple and everything is done online.
Do a quick Google search. Google University will tell you everything you need to know on how to do this, but also I teach this in The Blueprint Program in depth. We have a whole section on this, so if you need help, we can help you.
The second thing is you need to do is to start using legitimate payment processors for business. As long as it was created for business. Here’s a tip for how you’re going to know – it’s probably going to take a percentage or a deduction of what your profit would be. It’s just the way that online business works.
That $1.50, or that $10, or whatever the percentage is that your payment processor is deducting? It’s a write off. At the end of the year, when you go to submit your taxes, you’re good. You’re covered. It’s going to actually help you in the long run. If you don’t like the fact that it takes $10 off, raise your session price by $10. Do you see what I’m saying?
Use legitimate payment processors for business. There are a ton of them: Stripe, Square, PayPal, Venmo business. Those are the main ones that are used. What a legitimate payment processor for business is NOT is Cash App, personal Venmo, personal Pay Pal, anything where they can pay you for friends and family reasons. That is not what you should be operating on.
You should also be giving people invoices, something that they can keep to show proof that they paid for that service. There are a lot of free options if you’re like, “oh, that’s another thing I have to buy?” No, you don’t. Almost every payment processor that you have creates their own invoices. So you can invoice directly from Stripe, directly from Square, directly from PayPal. There’s no excuses why you can’t be giving invoices and receipts for what people are paying for.
Number three has nothing to do with finances. Step three is to establish an online presence. I hear this a lot: “I have been doing sessions or charging very little and I’ve done it for about a year or six months or a couple of years and I don’t know when I’m ready to charge. I don’t know when I’m ready to even tell people I have a photography business.” You’re like an undercover photographer, right? So the only way people would know that is if you told them you’re a photographer, or if they used you or their friend told you right?
A lot of you are scared to even create a business page or create a business account or have a website. I don’t want you to be afraid I want you to establish an online presence, whether that’s on social media, that’s a website, a Google My Business page. You’ve got to put yourself out there, you have to make that commitment.
Two steps were tactical ways. The third step is a mindset issue. Right now, I want you to say, “I don’t just take pictures. I am a photographer. I run a legitimate business and serve my clients well. In return, they value me. I make a profit so I can contribute to my family and make money from my gifts and my talents and the way that I serve people. I am a photographer.”
If you’re not saying that, let’s just put that on repeat. Come back and listen to this episode every single day. You can fast forward it to this part right here. You’ve got every day wake up. “I am a photographer.” Write it on a post it note, put it in your car, record yourself saying it and play it every time before you go to bed and when you wake up. It will change your life.
In conclusion, I’m going to recap the three steps to make your photography business official.
Those are the three steps. Go make your photography business official!
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