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Hobby, job or business?

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

I have talked to many photographers and of course they all want to earn more money but they do not dare to ask for more. It is hard to put a number to your value, for that I have made another post but right now I want to focus on the general attitude towards your work and more importantly, how your potential clients perceive this.

Many work (or want to) in photography because it seems like the most amazing thing there is but to make money with it is a whole different story! One thing is a hobby, another one is having a job and another one is having a business. So, let's establish the differences.

1. A hobby. A hove is something you love doing so much that you would pay to do it. You would spend hours learning how to and spend hundreds or even thousands of euros in material (gear and trainings in this case). You can experiment with different tools and learn a lot and get really good at it. You can make presents for your friends and family and they will applause your creations. You might even sell a piece or two! Whatever it is you make, it mostly costs you time and money but it gives your immense amounts of pleasure. However, would anybody outside your friends and family pay for it? It is strangers who you can learn the most from at least in professional fields, specially if it is going to cost them money.

2. A job. If they are paying for this thing you do (or make) and you are busy with it all day, everyday and even exhausted with it but it can pay your bills, you've got a job! Either part-time or full-time you make some income with it quiet stable. You might be your own boss, but also your own slave.

3. A business. A business is something that you can decide not to do and you can still live. Preferably it works without you (hard to achieve in photography) but even if it needs you, you are able to generate more than you need and your mindset is working towards a strategy to increment the value of your business. You can hire someone, or not. You make the choices with who to work with, you can delegate tasks and get commissions.

I have gone through all 3 stages and the only difference between the three of them is how you treat it. As a hobby, you will not charge people for anything but you will pay for the costs. As an employee you will trade time for a fair amount of money. As a business, you will not work at all if it does not add anything to your strategy and rather have a day off. Often, clients can know just by the e-mail you send in which stage you are and choose you or not. They might choose you because you are cheap and will spare them money or they might choose you because you are great and they might even widen their budget for it. In the downloads you can purchase a sample e-mail that has gotten me a lot of projects at least through the first stage.

Download here.

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