Today, I’m sharing the difference between running your business like a hobby, and running it like a business. I want to know if you are a hobbyist or if you truly are running your business like a business owner. I really get passionate about this topic, because I’m always looking at posts in the Social Selling for Photographers group and some other photography groups. The conversations happening and questions being asked have really made me take a step back and realize that there are so many differences.
How long has that been since you decided to put yourself out there and start charging? We’re not going to get too technical, but here’s where we’re gonna start. One of the things that really sets hobbyist and business photographers apart is your mindset. It’s how you approach your business in general. When someone asks you what you do, do you ever tell them that you are a photographer or do you try to shy away from it? Do you feel shameful in saying that you are a photographer? It doesn’t matter if you’re running a full time business and you have a photography business? I asked this question in a former challenge and it was crazy to hear the results of people being able to book more clients by just getting comfortable and confident in saying that they are a photographer.
Do you have an exit plan or a plan B so if it doesn’t work out by this date you can just throw in the towel and move on? This is a self reflection question, because business owners are not setting a failure date. They are saying if this doesn’t work now, in three months I’m going to try a different strategy. Your plan should not be that I’m in this for one year. Then, if I can’t make it work, I’m going back to corporate, or whatever your exit plan is going to be. That is a hobbyist, not a business owner.
Not one time have I ever said that if I don’t book 10 clients by next month, I just suck and I’m done with this. That’s a tough pill to swallow for some of you, because we want to play it safe. Your brain wants to keep you safe. If it’s in your mind, then we’ve got to work on your mindset, because it’s coming from lies.
Next, I want to talk about are some things that actually separate you from being a hobby business and being an actual photography business owner. The first question that I want to ask you is: Are you operating your business legally? This is not to shame anybody. When I first started, I didn’t know these things. I just don’t want you to be able to have that excuse.
If you want to have a photography business, you have to also step into the business owner role. You have to own up to the things that are required to have a business. If you don’t, not only are you hurting yourself and putting yourself at Jeopardy, but you’re also harming our photography industry. You can start by making a plan to, at least, become a sole proprietor in your business. This is something you can take back to your CPA. Here are a few more legal things to think about:
How do you take payments? If you’re trying to get by without having to have the processing fees, you’re doing it wrong. There is no way to get around that unless somebody is paying you cash or check. The majority of people want an online payment system. This means you need to make sure that you have a legit PayPal business, stripe, square account or whatever payment processor you’re using. You can’t be escaping fees. Cash apps are not legal in your business. Venmo personal is not legal in your business. If you’re taking payments like that, not only are you not protecting yourself, but you’re actually putting your clients in danger, too.
For some reason, I always find people that are trying to deliver their images in a very unprofessional way. Some people are emailing their images or using Dropbox to deliver their images to their clients. Again, I’m not shaming you, but I’m telling you right now, there’s no reason to do that. There’s no reason to look like a knockoff brand when you could easily sign up for Pixieset or Pictime and run your business legitimately while looking way more professional. There’s free accounts on all of these platforms.
I’ve used a Pixieset from the beginning, but I did not always have to pay for it. I didn’t need that much storage and didn’t have the high quality images that I have now and I did not have as many clients as i as i service now, either. And so there are the free plans, there are paid plans, whatever, but it’s totally worth it. And not only that, guys, but how are you going to upsell to print some products off of Dropbox, when you could easily have a beautiful system where if people choose to so
I do a hybrid model in my business. I allow for upsells in my business. There’s no simple way that you can upsell yourself using Dropbox. It would just be too complicated at that point. Also, people really want receipts. If you’re don’t have a system or are not using a payment processor, it may be difficult to send people receipts.
Another thing to think about is the way that you’re communicating with your clients. I think it’s the hardest lesson for a lot of people, but you have to understand that you have a bucket where everything is personal and friendly and then you have another bucket that is your business and client relationships. In that second bucket, you have to be very, very careful with how you present yourself and how you are communicating. You really need to speak in a professional manner. If you would not send what you’re saying in an email to someone in a corporate setting, then you probably don’t need to send it at all.
I just want you to be the best version of yourself when you’re speaking to clients. Also, take into consideration what method of communication you are using. If it’s all over the place, then no wonder you’re having a hard time keeping everything together. Set boundaries. You don’t have to talk to clients past a certain time at night. People are looking at your social media, how you speak, what you say, and what pages you like. Then, they are judging you based on that.
If you want to be professional, but you’re sharing or saying inappropriate things, it’s time for a change. You need to be aware that people are judging you on every little thing you’re doing. I just want you just to be careful and mindful of what you say and share. These are things that you have to look at when you’re choosing to run your business.
It all goes back to do you believe in yourself. Do you believe in yourself even though you have everything in your business that you want? Are you still confident? Do you believe that you have enough where you are to make this successful? And are you using what you have to the best of your ability, because that’s another thing. It’s not going to have a brand new camera, having the latest lens, having the latest preset drop is not going to get you to book more clients.
If you’re really unsure, I want you to consider signing up for the Boost Your Bookings Bootcamp. In the very first training we’re going to cover growing your business. The second training will go over how to stand out in a saturated market. Next, we are talking about eliminating your competition with a solid brand strategy. Then, we’ll chat about pricing mistakes you’re probably making and how to fix them. Then, we’ll wrap it up with three marketing myths that you are believing.
I have poured my heart and soul into this bootcamp and am so excited for you to join me. If you’ve ever attended one of my free ones, this is going to be like that, but on steroids. If you guys have any questions, let me know.
So, are you treating your business like a hobby? Are you being a true business owner? I would love to hear from you in the Social Selling for Photographers. It’s a great place to ask questions, share your wins and connect with other awesome photogs!
Ready to take your business from hobby to full time? Then you should make plans to join The Blueprint Program.