August 3, 2023
When I switched from doing my wedding photography business part time to full time, it was scary! I felt a lot of anxiety about it. There was a lot of planning and strategies involved. I can identify with the uncertainty and questions you may have about making the decision to transition.
First and foremost, you must decide that transitioning to full time is what you really want to do and keep that vision in mind. Having a solid mindset is really going to help you keep going in your journey!
The fact that you are already here and willing to learn means that you are already on the right track. The knowledge is out there. Some of it is free (I have a youtube channel and a podcast) and some of it is paid (wedding photography and products at www.catgeducation.com).
In this video, I am going to help you answer some of those questions and guide you through the process of transitioning your business.
As I have said before in many of my videos, your portfolio is KEY. Building a strong portfolio is going to be your first focus. I almost always start with this because we are photographers. People WANT to see:
📷 Are you an artist?
📷 Do you produce images that they love and want to see themselves in for their weddings and portraits?
Your work is what will really allow someone to decide that YOU are the photographer for them (of course, personality counts, too 😉) so before transitioning, you really want to hone in on your style, artistry, and where you want to take your images. Continue to practice, try new gear, collaborate with others, and build out a really strong body of work. Your portfolio is what your potential clients will really be taking away and remembering.
So many people think that branding just means your logo or web design. The truth is, it is all encompassing in your business. Branding is
📷 How you carry yourself
📷 How you approach the wedding day
📷 What you wear
📷 How you speak to your clients (are you someone who interjects or are you a fly on the wall?)
How you want to run your business becomes your brand. I met with someone the other day that wanted to run her photography business with more of a photo-journalistic approach. That will be part of her brand.
Once you figure out where you want to go with your business, you want your brand to be consistent. Establishing a strong brand is just like establishing a strong portfolio. It will really allow you to connect with and speak to your ideal client (or the person that you WANT to book you for their wedding photography services like there is no one else on earth that will do for them).
There is a saying that “your network is your net worth”. This is especially true in the wedding photography industry. When it comes to such a treasured day for a client (full of financial investments, emotions, and memories) they want someone that they can trust. When we are looking for someone we can trust and hire, we turn to friends, families, and others in the wedding industry.
Expanding your network can help you expand your net worth. It will help you book weddings and transition from part time with a partially filled calendar into full time, with a full time salary paid by this career and a thriving, sustainable business.
There are plenty of ways to build your network. We talk about this a lot on our YouTube channel, so search for those past videos and podcasts to learn ways that myself and others have built our networks. Some of the ways to build your network are:
📷 Collaborate with others
📷 Extend your services to others in the industry
📷 Do a great job for your clients so that they will refer you to their friends and family
Don’t overlook the power of networking and expanding your network so that you can build out your strong reputation and get those great referrals. Your networking will be instrumental.
Pricing yourself appropriately is going to be a HUGE factor in making it full time with your wedding photography business. You want to make sure that you have a pricing structure that will allow you to work full time and make enough money without burning out.
I offer a free pricing guide that you can download. If you want to go deeper into learning about pricing, I offer a one hour mini course at www.catgeducation.com. In the course I lay out my offerings, how I discount my clients based on their spends, and other ins and outs of pricing.
Pricing is instrumental because it is a reflection of your portfolio, experiences, expenses, and how much you want to work as a wedding or portrait photographer. Make sure that you spend time honing in on your pricing and packages (also called collections or offerings) and make sure that your pricing will give you the ability to sustain your business for the long haul.
Evaluating your finances is part of the pricing process, but I want to really highlight it again because it is so important. The money we spend to survive (insurance, mortgages, car payments, groceries – all of the necessities) has a huge impact on our decision to go full time. Knowing your finances can help you make a clear and solid plan for how much you need to make (and how you are going to make it). This will give you the confidence to know when you can leave your 9-5 and do photography full time.
📸 Marketing and advertising also play a big role in your ability to go from part to full time. Often, people get so busy with their other jobs AND photography AND editing AND client contracts, etc. that the last thing that they want to do is market their business. We all just want to go to social media and scroll mindlessly enjoying the content going our way. The truth is, we MUST participate in these platforms to stay top of mind.
It is important to have your platforms ultimately lead to your professional website. We use “Show It” for ours. The code MAGIC will save you 10% when you sign up. It has been an amazing platform to do a quick and easy drag and drop site to get our portfolio up and online.
If you can’t post on social media every day, try to at least post one to two times per week to stay top of mind. As a consumer looking to hire a business, I want to know that I can trust them. I want to be able to see their faces. Post about yourself. Share some personal things going on, where you’re from, what you do in your free time – anything that can help you connect with your clients. If you aren’t comfortable sharing about yourself, show some behind the scenes of you working.
Social media is an important tool because it allows you to connect with your clients and build trust. It is often the first impression.
📸 Spending money on advertising (like participating in a trade show or advertising in a magazine) is definitely an avenue if you’d like to take it. Do know, though, that you can still get your business where it needs to go if you don’t have the funds or just don’t want to spend them on advertising. Paying for ads may get you there faster, but there are other ways. You can
💻 Blog for free
💻 Be active on social media
💻 Build your network
All of these things will help you with your marketing and advertising.
As you are working with your new clients and creating good rapport and images with them, make sure that you are gathering testimonials and reviews from them in the process. This becomes important for future clients because they can see that someone has worked with you and was happy with the end result.
Don’t be afraid to ask for those reviews. If someone emails you or texts you and says something nice, ask their permission to use it in a testimonial. Use a photo to accompany the testimonial, put it on your website, and show future clients that other people are trusting you and love their experience and end results.
Getting glowing reviews takes a lot of behind the scenes work, including a lot of what has been mentioned here. So, when you do get these glowing testimonials, make sure you capture them and put them on display for everyone to see.
In addition to the photography and images your clients receive, they will also be working with you through your work-flow program. Do a bit of research, talk to other photographers, and get some good insight into the programs that work well with clients. You want their experience to be seamless from start to finish. You want them to hear back from you quickly (correspondence is super important, so if you struggle with this, consider hiring a virtual assistant). So, be communicative, think on your toes, and be accommodating and kind.
Here are some programs that we use in our business:
📸 Dubsado – this program helps us to manage our clients.
📸 Pictime – this program is our hosting gallery. It is what we most often use to share our images with our clients.
There are so many other tools and programs out there to help you get started. You can start with a free program and eventually upgrade into a paid program, but having these programs in place will help your clients feel taken care of and know that you are organized and taking care of things on their behalf.
I can 100% relate to struggling to do it all, whether it be school and part time photography, a full time job and part time photography, and even being a parent and juggling a new business. There is going to be a time when you start to transition. Just know that it is about the long journey. Here are some tips to navigate the transition period:
📸 Be patient
📸 Take one day at a time
📸 Don’t get overwhelmed by lists (remember that there is a lot that goes into each one of these things).
Take it one day at a time or one step at a time if you need to. Eventually you will get to your goal of being full time.
During the transition period, it is ok to take on additional jobs that you normally wouldn’t take. When I first began, I did many different types of photography. I photographed for universities, commercial events, I did headshots and even family sessions. These jobs helped me become a better photographer and business woman. They also helped me appreciate the point in my business where I am able to focus only on weddings.
We have a community called “The Wedding Photography Society”. You can earn more at www.weddingphotographysociety.com. In this community we talk a lot about where people are and help each other navigate our different journeys.
And if you’re REALLY looking for that next step in education, check out our Photo Course: “Full Time Wedding Photography!”
There is a lot to be said for the transition. Appreciate it, know that it is temporary, and as long as you continue to work hard, learn and implement what you are learning, eventually you will get your business to where you want it to be.
If you are interested in learning how to price your base price for photography, check out the Pricing Guide below. ⤵️