Photography by

Casey Louise

February 9, 2024

Essential Tips for growing a successful Photography Business! 

These tips will help you grow a profitable and sustainable photography business!

Photography by Casey Louise capturing motherhood

Like many photographers who are moms, I started my photography business after my baby was born. I was already passionate about photography as a hobby and knew if I needed to make money, I wanted it to be something I’m truly passionate about! The key part of that decision was that I did NEED to make money. My family depends on my income so I knew I needed to be successful. So, who am I and why should you listen to MY tips?

How I made 70K in my second year as a photographer, while being a full time stay at home mom.

My name is Casey and I am a successful motherhood photographer in the greater Seattle area. I was able to quit my steady Dental Hygiene career and grow my photography business to be profitable in less than two years all while being a full time stay at home mom of a toddler. To be completely transparent, in my first year in business as a photographer I made 20K and quit my part time dental hygiene job after 6 months of balancing both. In my SECOND year I made 70K with my photography business while taking care of my 2 year old daughter full time! That’s a growth of over 200% in my second year as a professional photographer. I currently have a full schedule 8-10 sessions a month, booked out 6 months in advance and I am in the process of adding associates. Here is how I’ve accomplished this growth as a photographer.

Do it right from the start !

I knew immediately that if I was going to take my business seriously, it was necessary to do things legally and responsibly from the start. First step, register your business with the state! I personally chose an S corp and will be changing to an LLC soon. Second, get liability insurance! Photography is a huge investment, you want to protect your equipment. Plus many studios require you to have insurance as well. Pay taxes! You will need to learn to pay sales tax and Federal tax, possibly state depending on which state you live in. Five to Ten years down the line you do NOT want to get in trouble for not paying your taxes. I made the mistake of paying someone to do my quarterly sales taxes for me. Don’t be me, learn to do them yourself! Once I learned this, it’s very straight forward and will save you from paying someone else. Get a business bank account so you can easily track your income and expenses. It makes your life so much easier to have all business transactions on one account rather than separating them from your personal life. Invest in a CRM. I use Honeybook and really love it! Honeybook is where I have my schedule/availability, contracts, invoices and much more. Finally, I recommend having a business email. I chose to create a gmail however most websites/domains give you an email. Having a business email is similar to having a photography business bank account; it keeps your business correspondence in one organized place. 

Find Community

I admit, I am a social person already. However, I find community to be the MOST important aspect honestly in life and business. When I started my business I reached out to people I knew who were already photographers to seek advice and encouragement from. I joined a few local photographer Facebook groups. Then, I saw a local photography studio was hosting a community meet up! This was really pivotal for me. I went to the event and met a few new people and the guest speaker was incredibly knowledgeable and respected in the community. Spoiler alert, I became a member at that studio and the guest speaker became my mentor! She has a slogan that says “Community over Competition” and I believe in this wholeheartedly. Her name is Elena S. Blair and through her community and North City Studio I have been able to find colleagues and close friends.

Invest in Education

The best financial investment you can make is in your photography and business education. I will say, the key to this is actually implementing the education you’ve learned. There are millions if not billions of free photography educational pieces online from podcasts, to blogs to YouTube. I started with someone I knew and trusted, my own wedding/Family photographer. I paid them for an initial mentorship. This was not really structured as they had not previously mentored but they are very successful and a fountain of useful information to get started. Remember, that speaker from the studio? Elena S. Blair recruited me for her level 1 mastermind and it was everything I needed. This 5 month group mentorship kept me on track, helped me get the right systems in place and hone in to a brand that’s in alignment with who I am to avoid burnout. I did pay someone to help walk me through building a website and then hired another expert in SEO to teach me more. I most recently invested in a one on one call to go over videography with a local expert as this is something I would like to add to my sessions. I will never pretend to be an expert in everything that it takes to build a successful photography business and I’m cautious of people who claim to know everything themselves. That’s why for any aspect I know is important, I am happy to invest in their expertise to guide me.

SEO & Social Media

Your website is the only piece of marketing that you own! Social medias change but your website is your storefront. I am so glad I was told to focus on this early on because it is a long game. That being said, I was able to rank on page one of google after six months of intensively working on my search engine optimization. If you don’t know what SEO is yet and it’s importance, please go see my friend MaryBeth Bryant. Everyone knows how popular social media is and to be honest, it’s FREE marketing. I do personally believe you should be utilizing at least one platform on social media. I know it can be overwhelming and many people claim to hate spending more time on there. So my advice is to pick ONE social media and spend your time and energy there. You don’t need an IG, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and more. Just pick the one where you can not only utilize the free marketing, but also hopefully find inspiration and community. For me, this has been Instagram and it has consistently been my #1 lead source for bookings.

Niche Down

This one may take more time but I find it valuable to niche down because it sets you apart as an expert in your field AND helps you prevent burn out. In the beginning it’s totally normal and beneficial to accept any session types you may be interested in to 1. Make money and 2.) Gain experience/practice. Over time though you may find you just don’t really enjoy doing certain types of sessions. You will probably discover two or three different types of sessions that really give you energy, excitement and joy. Those sessions are your passion and sticking to sessions you’re passionate about it going to fuel your business rather than exhaust you. Also, when a client is searching for their photographer they will probably search “Family Photographer, Wedding photographer etc. near me. By focusing on the niche you’re most passionate about it’s going to help you stand out in the search. This does not mean that you can NEVER take on a branding session if your niche is maternity. It just means you market yourself as a niched photographer/expert in your field.

I hope you find these tips helpful while growing as a photographer into a thriving profitable photography business! I know if I did it, you can too! 

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