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I want to Make $50,000 . .

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Thread started 22 Dec 2012 (Saturday) 17:04   
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avawam
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I want to make $50,000.00 within the next year to use to pay off some debts. Now before anybody start stelling me that I need to take it slow and work my way up . . . blah, blah . . I have been in the portrait photography business since 2005. The most I have made in a year is about $13,000.00. I'm just looking for some ideas of how to do it. I'm hoping somebody has some creative ideas that I haven't thought of, so let me hear your ideas or even better, how you have done it. I live in a small, rural town where lots of people who have cameras think they are pros and advertise as such. Ideas for big sity people may not work for a small town photographer.

I'll even give you the link to my website in case that helps.
www.vannanapierphotogr​aphy.comexternal link

Post #1, Dec 22, 2012 17:04:00




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Tom ­ Reichner
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$50,000 gross sales, or $50,000 net income?

Post #2, Dec 22, 2012 17:05:58


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RandyMN
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Better to take it one job at a time than look at the entire year. To make 50K you need 1000.00 per week in profit after all expenses. What can you do to earn $2000 per week? Perhaps sell a lot of prints or get a well paying jobs. Seems like portraits will not pay that weekly unless you have quite a name already established and can charge top dollar. Many out there do earn that much and even more, but I'm sure it took time, and that's what you do not want to hear...

Post #3, Dec 22, 2012 17:10:13




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avawam
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Net income would be nice, but I'd take $50,000.00 gross.

Post #4, Dec 22, 2012 17:12:03




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sapearl
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Good luck - I wish you well. Have you considered branching out more into wedding and social even work....neighboring towns and such? What about school photography or sports shots? The challenge you face is what folks in a small area are willing to make. I don't know what their income level is but that could be critical.

Post #5, Dec 22, 2012 17:15:00


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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Good luck!

Post #6, Dec 22, 2012 17:16:08


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sapearl
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Just started exploring your site - I see you do horse shows. Folks with horses tend to have a bit more disposable income than some. Expand into this area. Offer special print packages. Do some really creative portraiture; people will pay well for that. What do you think?

BTW - I just found your other thread on trying to make it in business. There's a lot of good advice there and after reading through the posts it looks like a number of your stumbling blocks have already been identified.

Post #7, Dec 22, 2012 17:19:05


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Nightstalker
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Is photography your main job or a hobby job on the side?

If it is a side job how much time do you put into it at the moment?

Post #8, Dec 22, 2012 17:46:11


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SouthernJumper
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Do you have an H/J shows or Events in your area? As an eventer, I definitely pay for decent XC pictures. Hate that so many of your horse pictures are soared horses (though obviously no fault of your own, just a sad sad thing that some crazy horse people do).

Post #9, Dec 22, 2012 18:08:53




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glumpy
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You can only build a business 3 ways.

You can sell more often ( to the same people)
You can sell a higher value
You can sell to more people.

Pick which one or more applys to you. If there are none, Game over and you need to change your circumstance.

I think you need to be doing volume certainly rather than weddings. Weddings have a longer lead time, 1 year is pretty standard here so you'd be lucky to get a lot done in the next 12 months.

For portrait you might do better. I'd look at some sort of living social type deal but don't fall for the trap of pricing the session at $2.99 with a disk of images. Make it $99 with 2x 8x10's or something so you have a shot at up selling. I did one of these offers a few years back and averaged pretty much a $500 sale every time.

The thing is you say you are in a small town. That's going to be tough to suddenly do 6 times the turnover in 1 year from a standing start. Whatever you do, you are looking at a numbers game to get the required number of clients through.

It's pretty easy, you know what your average sale should be, Divide $50K by that and see if the required number of clients is practical and doable. If not, have a rethink.

I wouldn't put much in the horses. I did that for 3 years and spoke to people all over the world whom were doing the same thing and not once did I come across anyone that was making more than tiddly winks money. on a GOOD weekend ( which there weren't a lot of) I could do over a grand. Most days not. others seemed the same.

IMHO and experience of my own and from others, they DON"T spend much money on pics at all. There also don't seem to be the numbers at the events to make it worthwhile on the average spend they do make.

From what I saw, it's pretty much the same the world over.
There are a lot of things wrong with horse work.
The saturation of clients on an hourly basis is terrible, it's easy for them to take their own pics, While the price to play is high, it's high enough that a lot of them don't wan't/ can't spend much more, the situations aren't very unique and if you can't do onsite Viewing and ordering, forget it because the impulse buy is about 90% of the sales you will make.

If you have to do it, forget about shooting adults and go for the youngest kids you can find. Shots of people flying horses over 1.8m jumps look great but the one's you'll make money off is the 4yo kid being led round a flag pole on a tiny pony.

MY suggestion to ramp your profits up is doing social and kids events. You need volume for this. I don't know where you are, what size your town is or how far to a decent population so this may not be practical for you. Without some population to work from however, you're pretty much screwed anyway with the increase you want in the time frame you specify.

Post #10, Dec 22, 2012 18:16:01


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

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Focus@Play
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glumpy wrote in post #15397816external link
You can only build a business 3 ways.

You can sell more often ( to the same people)
You can sell a higher value
You can sell to more people.

Pick which one or more applys to you. If there are none, Game over and you need to change your circumstance.

I think you need to be doing volume certainly rather than weddings. Weddings have a longer lead time, 1 year is pretty standard here so you'd be lucky to get a lot done in the next 12 months.

For portrait you might do better. I'd look at some sort of living social type deal but don't fall for the trap of pricing the session at $2.99 with a disk of images. Make it $99 with 2x 8x10's or something so you have a shot at up selling. I did one of these offers a few years back and averaged pretty much a $500 sale every time.

The thing is you say you are in a small town. That's going to be tough to suddenly do 6 times the turnover in 1 year from a standing start. Whatever you do, you are looking at a numbers game to get the required number of clients through.

It's pretty easy, you know what your average sale should be, Divide $50K by that and see if the required number of clients is practical and doable. If not, have a rethink.

I wouldn't put much in the horses. I did that for 3 years and spoke to people all over the world whom were doing the same thing and not once did I come across anyone that was making more than tiddly winks money. on a GOOD weekend ( which there weren't a lot of) I could do over a grand. Most days not. others seemed the same.

IMHO and experience of my own and from others, they DON"T spend much money on pics at all. There also don't seem to be the numbers at the events to make it worthwhile on the average spend they do make.

From what I saw, it's pretty much the same the world over.
There are a lot of things wrong with horse work.
The saturation of clients on an hourly basis is terrible, it's easy for them to take their own pics, While the price to play is high, it's high enough that a lot of them don't wan't/ can't spend much more, the situations aren't very unique and if you can't do onsite Viewing and ordering, forget it because the impulse buy is about 90% of the sales you will make.

If you have to do it, forget about shooting adults and go for the youngest kids you can find. Shots of people flying horses over 1.8m jumps look great but the one's you'll make money off is the 4yo kid being led round a flag pole on a tiny pony.

MY suggestion to ramp your profits up is doing social and kids events. You need volume for this. I don't know where you are, what size your town is or how far to a decent population so this may not be practical for you. Without some population to work from however, you're pretty much screwed anyway with the increase you want in the time frame you specify.

I agree with this alot, also try considering entering a new skillset into what you already do. Start doing commercial, website photography, web design, app development and even video work.

When I saw that photography was going to be a tough sell early on, specially with the basic family, wedding etc. I took the the research table and found that commercial video is quote profitable, within a few months I had my first contract for $10,000.00 (i dont think I stopped smiling for a week) but it happened because I kept expanding my skill-set and was able to offer more value for every dollar the customer spent.

Now I am studying 3D graphic work and video coloring, should be an interesting few years coming up!

Good luck to you :)

Post #11, Dec 22, 2012 18:27:24


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avawam
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To answer a few of your questions:
Photography is not my primary income. I wish it was, but at $10,000 a year, it's just not happening.
Hunter/Jumpers - nope. Nowhere near me.
Horse Shows - These walking horse shows are killers. There are usually about 30 classes which equals about 6 hours or more. It gets dark and the flash makes the camera even heavier on already tired arms. I love doing them, but the profit has so far been terrible. People come up to me and tell me they want to buy some prints and then they never do. Horses have always been my passion and I would love to do farm calls & portrait stuff, but I don't get any calls even from people who tell me they want me to come to their barn for a shoot.
I am located in south eastern Kentucky. I have lots of brags on my work, but getting the actual customers is hard.

I have read a million times that raising prices helps, but I have not found this to be true. In small towns, people know generally what people make and what kinds of homes they live in....Even people who have money to spend are drawn to the new photographers who are offering 20 poses on a disk for $50. Even the Commonwealth's Attorney's wife!

As far as branching out into other areas, I would photograph the rear ends of mulesif I thought it would be profitable. I have done some weddings, but seems like even people who spends thousands of dollars on their wedding want a $300 photographer.

Sigh....

Post #12, Dec 22, 2012 18:54:27




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Focus@Play
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avawam wrote in post #15397910external link
To answer a few of your questions:
Photography is not my primary income. I wish it was, but at $10,000 a year, it's just not happening.
Hunter/Jumpers - nope. Nowhere near me.
Horse Shows - These walking horse shows are killers. There are usually about 30 classes which equals about 6 hours or more. It gets dark and the flash makes the camera even heavier on already tired arms. I love doing them, but the profit has so far been terrible. People come up to me and tell me they want to buy some prints and then they never do. Horses have always been my passion and I would love to do farm calls & portrait stuff, but I don't get any calls even from people who tell me they want me to come to their barn for a shoot.
I am located in south eastern Kentucky. I have lots of brags on my work, but getting the actual customers is hard.

I have read a million times that raising prices helps, but I have not found this to be true. In small towns, people know generally what people make and what kinds of homes they live in....Even people who have money to spend are drawn to the new photographers who are offering 20 poses on a disk for $50. Even the Commonwealth's Attorney's wife!

As far as branching out into other areas, I would photograph the rear ends of mulesif I thought it would be profitable. I have done some weddings, but seems like even people who spends thousands of dollars on their wedding want a $300 photographer.

Sigh....

No offence, but it seems liek you are taking the wrong, very VERY negative approach to this issue.

The simple fact for business is this, people need things - if you are able to offer them those thing - they will give you money for those things.

I when I said $10k i didnt mean 10k a year, i ment just one of my contracts was 10k after a few months of heavy training, marketing and pounding the pavement.

As for weddings, there are people out there williing to drop 10's of thousands on weddings, try to learn some new techniques, don't be the run of the mil person with some skill with a camera, offer somethign new, something different something they want so bad they will pay what you ask.

Post #13, Dec 22, 2012 19:16:21


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BlankThis
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Focus@Play wrote in post #15397970external link
The simple fact for business is this, people need things - if you are able to offer them those thing - they will give you money for those things.

...

try to learn some new techniques, don't be the run of the mil person with some skill with a camera, offer somethign new, something different something they want so bad they will pay what you ask.

This is excellent advise! Thank you :)

Post #14, Dec 22, 2012 19:47:44


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avawam
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Focus@Play wrote in post #15397970external link
I when I said $10k i didnt mean 10k a year, i ment just one of my contracts was 10k after a few months of heavy training, marketing and pounding the pavement.

.

I knew you meant $10,000 for one job. I meant that $10,000 is about the most I have been able to make in an entire year. If I got $1000 for a job, let alone $10,000, I would think I had died and gone to heaven

I guess I am negative because I started out with a great vision and years later things have gotten worse instead of better.

I want to come up with something different and creative that no other photographer in this area does. I just don't know what that is. The one really successful photographer in the area did just that about 10 years ago by simply doing outdoor photography. She now does both studio and outdoor and does it solely for a living. At the time, the only photographers here were Olan Mills and various other photographers who came to town and set up in stores.

Post #15, Dec 22, 2012 20:33:14




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