Quit your job. Right now. Go ahead, open up an email to your boss and tell them you quit. Go ahead, I dare you.
No, I don’t really dare you.
Every artist or person that identifies themselves as a photographer has at one point or another aspired to become a pro–shooting photos and developing creative ideas for clients that you get paid for. Yes, that’s the romanticised part of the job that you probably talk about in the profile you have on a dating website or when telling folks about your job, but the truth is that for the most part, photography is largely a desk job unless you hire a team.
And with that, you should start thinking a bit more logically and carefully.
If you want to quit your day job, you need to understand that you and your business will probably not make a major profit for the first year or two. Businesses in the US are allowed to take losses (according to the IRS) for the first three years until they need to file for bankruptcy or restructure in some way or another. So before you give in your two weeks notice, your career to become a professional photographer should begin with the goal of saving up a whole load of money and conservatively spending it.
Then when you actually quit, incorporate, and are ready to start marketing your portrait shooting skills, event shooting skills, concert photography skills, wedding photography skills, etc you’ll need a network. Of course, it should go without saying that you need a website with specific branding and a look that you want to exude when clients come to your site.
So stop right there.
Those are already a couple of goals to meet. To recap, let’s list them:
– Save up a bunch of money to ideally let you live comfortably for over a year without needing to really work.
– Build a website with branding
Now, each of these should be broken down to have their own miniature goals. The big one being how you’re going to save up enough money. Will you work extra gigs? Will you make sacrifices?
Will your website really show off who you are and what your business can do for a client?
Keep going. Let’s say you’ve gotten yourself up and running.
Now how are you going to get clients? Word of mouth? Social media? Google Adwords and Adsense? Networking? A mixture of all of them? Okay, cool. But now what are you going to do differently to make yourself stand out amongst a heavily saturated market? Will you apply to be featured on sites this like one? What’s your marketing ploy going to be?
Did you think about that? Did it occur to you that in order to actually make money it will requires hours and hours of marketing on your part?
Now we’ve got another set of goals. They are:
– Securing word of mouth advertising
– Google Adwords (hack your way to the top of NYC Wedding Photographer’s search terms)
– Networking (connecting with people in the industry that can help you and that you can help. This is best done over drinks or dinners.)
– Social media marketing
– Blog and content development marketing
– Social and online networking
Let’s stop right here before we even begin to talk about a work life balance and getting time to shoot and edit.