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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 and where do I even begin?

  • If you receive compliments from those you take photos of, and if you’re asked to bring your camera to events – then yes, you’re ready!

 

  • If friends have asked if they can please pay you for photos, then – yes, you’re ready!

 

  • If you’re able to make time every day to shoot, edit and do some admin – then yes, you’re ready!

 

  • If you’re committed to growth – then yes, you’re ready!

However, what’s far more important than whether or not I think you’re ready, is whether YOU think you’re ready.

In this blog post, I offer a 3-step strategy to get you charging for your services, and share some thoughts that might challenge the way you’re thinking about your business.

1. Practice makes perfect

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

Photography is a technical art which means that you aren’t going to get it immediately. To become a confident photographer and to feel really comfortable with your gear, you’ll need to shoot in all kinds of different lighting situations. So push yourself out of your comfort zone and actively seek out challenging scenarios and settings.

Wondering where to begin? 

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 small fee for the next few shoots. Share a few of your best photos on social media with info on how those interested can reach you.

If you feel uneasy asking to be paid for the photos you take, you wouldn’t be alone, but persevere. You can’t keep giving your time away for a free, and this is not a smart strategy for building a business.

After these first few paid gigs, raise your prices again. Then do another 3 shoots, and raise your prices once 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 stress 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.”

2. SHARE

Share 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. Don’t let overwhelm be the reason you don’t move forward. Progress over perfection.

So simply..begin! 

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 a valuable and necessary practice. Consider all your contacts on social media, and think of all of their contacts. Facebook and Instagram like it when viewers engage and interact with a post, and the algorithm will push your work into more of your audiences newsfeeds. So don’t be shy to use the captions of your posts to ask questions and always respond to comments.

We call this organic social media marketing. 

And it’s FREE!

I suggest sending a message to your closest friends and family members and ask them to like, share and comment on your content – this is how you’re going to get noticed. 

You just don’t know what opportunities are out there waiting for you.

 

3. MINDSET

Our feelings fuel our actions, and we feel certain emotions because of the way we think. Our thoughts are the stories that we are telling ourselves – our inner dialogue.

If you agree with me on this, then you will agree that in order to be successful, you’ll need to manage your thoughts very carefully so that they drive you in the right direction – forward!

If this interests you, check out Brooke Castillo. I listen to her podcast episodes while I edit photos, and I have grown tremendously because of what I have learnt from her.

 

Observing my thoughts has helped me to understand why I feel the way I do and having this insight has allowed me to take action when I might otherwise have been too afraid.

 

  • 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 beliefs about ourselves and about the world we live in – some of them are helpful and some entirely unhelpful. 

Lots of the unhelpful beliefs creep in as we’re trying to do something big and brave, like start a photography business. 

 

If you feel you could use some help in this area, let’s work on it together. I am not a therapist, but I have years of experience in the photography business and have a very keen interest in personal development. I have helped photographers break through belief ceilings by teaching them how to observe their thoughts and question their feelings. It’s amazing how things can change when we shift our perspective.

So, with that – who has dreams of transitioning from hobbyist to professional?

If you’d like to be supported through your journey, please join The Purposeful Photographer Facebook group. It’s a place of support and strength, and I would love to have you there.

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