Transition from hobbyist to professional

Question: Hey Derryn. I’m curious as to whether my photography would be good enough to start doing this as a side hustle or what I should focus on to get there.

  • If you think you’re ready, then yes – you’re ready!
  • If there is even one person who likes the work that you do and is willing to exchange money for your service – then yes, you’re ready!
  • If you don’t believe that you’re skilled enough and if you don’t think that anyone will pay you to take their photos, then no, you’re not ready!

Whether YOU think you’re ready matters far more than whether or not I think you’re ready.

If I tell you that I think you’re ready, but YOU don’t believe it, you will always undervalue your work, under charge for your services and most likely reach burn out.


So I’d like to answer your question with another question…

Are you ready to get intentional with your photography and make moves towards a bigger goal?

If the answer is YES – which I hope it is – then read on for some guidance on how to transition from hobbyist to professional photographer.

Spoiler alert: it’s not a quick journey, but it is simple, fun and definitely do-able.

1. Practice makes perfect

I know this seems like an obvious thing to say – but I can’t stress it enough.

Practice makes perfect. The key to success, according to Malcolm Gladwell, is 10 000 hours of practice. 


Begin by offering shoots to your family and friends for free. This will allow you the technical practice you will need and an opportunity to start defining your style. 

After a few free shoots you will have a portfolio and a bit of experience. This means that you can charge a little for the next few shoots. Share the photos on social media – and you’re marketing yourself. Easy peasy right??

Decide for yourself what that increase should be. You need to be able to voice that price confidently if someone asks. There is no use setting a price if you’re embarrassed to tell people about it. 

After these first few paid gigs, raise your prices again. Then do another 3 shoots, and raise your prices slightly again. Do this for however long it takes for you to reach your goal rate.

In my Purposeful Photographer course, I help photographers set a ‘dream salary’ based on their lifestyle ambitions. This becomes your goal. Once you have a goal, you can create a strategy that helps you take the emotion and deliberation out of the process. 

When it’s been carefully planned out, it’s so much easier to say “That’s my goal, here is my strategy, and now my business will get to work without any self questioning or self doubt.”


Start sharing the photos that you take. You don’t need to create a professional social media account or have a website. Getting fancy too quickly is often the reason people quit. 


Sharing on your personal profiles is absolutely adequate. 

When you’ve developed a style, have about 20-30 strong images, and feel ready to brand a business… then you can build professional accounts. Don’t forget to tag the people and places in your photos for maximum reach. You want your photos to be seen by as many people as possible!

The more you share, the easier it gets. It’s difficult for some people to share their work, but it’s valuable practice. Consider all your contacts on social media, and think of all of their contacts. If even a small handful of people engage with one of your photos, the algorithm will kick in and show your photos to more people via their Facebook feed.

We call this organic social media marketing. 

And it’s FREE!

The first 3 weddings that I shot were all friends of my sisters. Ask your family and close friends to comment and share – this is how you’re going to get noticed. 

Maybe a door will open for you that you hadn’t even considered. You just don’t know what opportunities are out there waiting for you.



What we think and how we feel determines the way that we act and is directly related to a given outcome.

If you agree with me on this, then you will agree that in order to be successful, you’ll need to manage your thoughts. 

If this interests you, check out Brooke Castillo. I listen to all her podcasts and absolutely adore what she says. I have grown so much as an individual because of what I have learnt from her.

As issues come up, deal with them!

  • Find it hard to share your photos online? – explore that! 
  • Having difficulty telling loved ones that you want to become a photographer? – Ask yourself why.
  • Don’t feel good enough to charge for your services? – What is stopping you?
  • Feel personally attacked when someone has an opinion about your work? – Why do you think you feel that way?

For all the time you put into your photography, it would be valuable to work on your personal development too. We all have mental and emotional blocks, and they LOVE to show up while we’re trying to make big decisions or do something brave…like starting a photography business.

So, with that – who has dreams of transitioning from hobbyist to professional? Let me know so that I can be of support. 


I’m behind you…all the way!


let's create magic together