I have a feeling that Glumpy would like to go by his own definition of "business" or at least what he thinks personally counts as a business. Let's not get picky about language here. If you are earning money for a service such as photography, painting, spa treatments and doing it legitimately, you are a professional whether you believe them to be worthy of the title or not.
My eyes are rolling in the back of my head. I have explained my situation again and again and tried to be as specific as possible without telling you my life story and personal information. I am constantly moving around due to my husband's career in the military. I have gotten extremely lucky in that I have a full time job at a non-profit I am very passionate about. I will only be in California for another year. In every place I move to for the next 20 or so years, I will have to start up my business again and build a client base in that country or state. It is far easier to run a sustainable business if you are based in the same community for a long time. I am looking to raise my prices slightly but I cannot get too invested in my area.
If you insist that I talk about numbers; With a price of $225 I am taking home at least $150 per session after taxes, gas, packaging, web space, equipment costs and car ware and tear. Whether the "real businesses" do it or not, I do not count the purchase of my software, office furniture, computer, hard drives, car, car insurance, cell phone, laptop, tablet etc because every single one of those things I had before I started my business. They are pretty much the staple purchases of most people I know who are not photographers or claiming it as a business expense. I am happy with this situation. I do not need nor want to buy thousands of dollars worth of further software, equipment and computers just to then raise my prices for a few sessions a week. I bought a new camera body and lens last year costing $1600 including a 3 year warranty. With an average of 3 sessions a week (at $225 each), I look to be taking home $450+ a week which is a fantastic addition to my already full time wage. I covered the cost of my new equipment within less than a month. Then the Christmas period was busier with 6 sessions a week. On top of a full time job, I cannot express how PROFITABLE this is for me. I feel very lucky!!
I have expressed that I do not wish to take my business full time in California because I love my other job and will not give it up. I am moving to DC in 2014 when that may become an option. However, my question is regarding my business (or my 'playing with tiddly winks') in California.
HBOC, thank you for your response. I am most definitely taking my time into consideration. $225 I feel is fair for sitting fee, editing time, travel time, correspondence and the printing rights. I am still unsure of the exact price but I know that with my current clientele and rural area, I cannot charge $400+. When I move to DC I know I could charge considerably more.
nccb, Thank you too! I am looking to raise my prices for that exact reason. I can take fewer sessions for more profit and not stress myself out with filling up the little free time I have. I will most definitely be looking at the finer less-aggressive points made my Glumpy & Thomas in the future should I decide to take my business a step further.
Glumpy, are you telling me that $450 extra a week is not profitable for a part-time photographer with a full time job? I pay my taxes, liability insurance and have a small amount of equipment. I do not need to pay workers comp,buy health insurance, wages, advertising costs etc. My costs for web space and DBA are under $300. Don't get me wrong, if I was looking to expand a wedding or family photography business with a second shooter, office space, hiring of models and needing that to pay my bills, health insurance costs and put a roof over my head...then maybe I would listen to your advice if there was less of an aggressive tone. If you do not wish to read my question and information properly, I am not going to read into your advice either. I can and will say "they don't apply to me".
Phew, I feel like coming to this forum was a bad idea!! I know I got rather defensive at the beginning but for "professionals" with thriving, busy businesses they sure do have a lot of time to write aggressive posts to people with less experience than them. It's ironic how this is an industry where we all must work with people and make our subjects happy & comfortable yet they fail to remember that there is a real person on the other side of their computer screen. You are not teaching me anything other than to never ask for advice because apparently doing that is unprofessional.
Thank you to all those who gave me constructive criticism and advice. I will look into breaking down my costs more exactly and charging something in the range of $225-$300. I would also enjoy some C&C on my website and work from those that were so quick to critique my business skills (I know this is not the write sub forum). I am a firm believer in the art coming first before technical skill or business savvy. I know too many male photographers who have every piece of equipment and certification under the sun but I wouldn't hire them to shoot my worst enemies wedding.