Most people dream of leaving the world of 9-5 jobs and becoming their own boss. And for new photographers and hobbyists, knowing when to take the leap of faith, quit their day job and head out into the world of full-time entrepreneurship as a Photographer is a dilemma. It is a scary and exciting step to make, but most times the steps to get there are hard to see.
Is it possible to build a full-time career as a photographer? This same question has been asked on Quora - One of the largest websites where people from all over the world and various works of life gather to share their knowledge, ask questions and find solutions to their problems. What is more, even Forbes has published an article on it.
So you are not alone!
And yes, building a full-time career in photography is possible. But hold on! Don't go packing your bags to travel all around the world, with a camera in hand. Not yet. Becoming a full-time photographer is not a walk in the park. Of course, you would be doing what you love, and you are passionate about. And if motivational quotes are anything to go by, that should make it not feel like work right?
Right. But not the whole truth.
Building a career is like planting a seed. With the right care and attention, you get the big tree. Be careless about it and, well, you might as well to go home. Full-time photography is no different from any other career. It requires making sacrifices, hard work, and persistence. Before taking the leap of faith and decides to become a full-time photographer, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
DO YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
Dumb question, I know. After all, you wouldn't be thinking of going full time if you didn't, right?
Loving photography is quite different from being passionate about it. It is the passion that would drive you on and keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel. Are you ready to burn the midnight oil, working on the weekends on your craft? As that is how you will ever know if you can build your photography business into something that would eventually replace your day job income.
To successfully build a business requires a lot of sacrifice on your part. There would be fewer free time to chill out and watch Netflix. Going full-time means you want to own a business, which equally means you always have to think of your business and strategies to make it grow. You have to be willing to work and work some more, always building. Sometimes this can be a blessing, sometimes not.
ARE YOU READY TO QUIT YOUR DAY JOB?
This is the most important and hardest question to answer. It probably is the one still keeping you from taking a bold step.
Let’s be rational.
You might wake up every morning hating your day job, dread having to get ready to go to that job you are currently on. You might even sleep every night dreaming of when you would eventually start up your own photography business. But then your day job assures you of a steady income whereas building your photography business doesn't… at least for a while.
Hate and anger can serve as great motivators. It has pushed people towards achieving their goals and doing the right things. When you hate your present job, it will give you the necessary drive to start working on what you wanted - full-time photography. Fact though is that full-time photography doesn't give you any assurances of steady income until you have built your business and clientele list to a point. So when you are not financially stable, no hate or anger in the world can help you. What should you do then?
Put your finances in order
Moving away from a full-time job can be scary and stressful at first, mostly because of the instability it would bring on your finances. Before making a move then, you must fortify your financial security as you will not be getting a consistent paycheck once you quit your job. Consider getting knowledge of financial management from competent authorities. These Financial resources can help you with that.
Apply financial strategies like building a stable emergency fund of at least eight months or more of expenses to take you through the first few months of the unknown. Being in debt is a risk you don't want to make as you are already planning on venturing into a business with enough risk of its own, don't add stress to the mix.
ARE YOU WILLING TO START SMALL?
Yes, you can see the whole picture in your imagination. A big state of the art photo studio with all the latest equipment and gears. With a clientele list as long as an arm.Thoughts of big goals and beautiful plans for your future. Your sleeping and waking dreams are all about strategies that would help you grow your business.
That is awesome! It's all commendable and part of being an entrepreneur. The problem though is that sometimes this drive can make you make too many moves too quickly leading you to crash before you even get a chance to grow. Statistics show that 3 out of every five businesses die in the first five years. You don't want that for your business.
You should be prepared to start small and grow at a consistent pace. Caring, reinventing, and pruning your photography business as it grows to adapt to challenges and changes.
Treat it like the big business you visualize it to be by creating a business plan and goals to achieve for the next 1,3,5 and 10 years.
ARE YOU WILLING TO LEARN?
It would surprise you how something as seemly little as the ability to learn and adapt can quickly take people out of business. A couple of years ago, typewriting machines were a thing, and typists was a job description. Not anymore.
Before making up your mind, be ready to learn, learn, and learn some more. Familiarize yourself with everything you should concerning photography business. Read up books about photography and the niche you want to specialize in.
Learn about business strategies, health insurance, editing, shooting, editing, accounting, client management, delivery, etc. Quitter by Jon Acuff is an amazing book to read before you decide to leave the security of your day job.
YES! YOU CAN.
Transitioning into becoming a full-time photographer is a serious business and not for the faint at heart but equipped with the right knowledge you definitely can do it.
Although the world of photography might seem saturated in most areas, it doesn't determine whether you will be successful or not. What does is the amount of commitment and dedication you are willing to invest in your business. Working harder and smarter and striving to improve both your business skills and your photography skills.
Be assured though that once you have learned the necessary lessons before quitting your job and make the decision to go full time as a Photographer, you will be faced with a lot of work. Sure. But your new-found flexibility and freedom cannot be quantified. It’s most likely going to be the best decision you've ever taken.
Nobody is a know-it-all. Do share your views and leave comments. If probably you’re already a full-time photographer, tell us about your own transition story.
We’d love to hear it.