So I've been in business for two months.... and ziltch!?

I started my own small photorgaphy business in April.... and haven't had ONE {paying} session since I started!

I've given away a couple sessions to get my name out more.... when I was just doing it as a hobby I was at least getting one/two a month... and now nothing??

I'm just curious, about tax wise.... what'll happen, when at the end of the year- what I'll have to do, when I possibly may not even have $1000 in income from this business but $2000 out in expenses {business cards, equip, computer, ex.}....

Also... advertising ideas? Lol. Im in desperate need of some help! :)

13 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Best Answer


    There are already excellent suggestions listed here (like the fact that you should have a business plan - that includes your target market & how to reach them, planned expenses, types of photography you'll specialize in, budget, etc.).And, the fact that it takes 1-2 years for small businesses to get off the ground is the norm. I don't know why those answers have thumbs down ratings. I hope they aren't from you, because they are very sensible & what you'll need to do in order to have a shot at succeeding.

    Here's a good resource for you to check out to help coach you on how to plan for, start, run and promote a business as a newbie starting out:

    They have some free reports you may want to download, read, and act upon.

    In addition to all the pure business angles that would apply to any small business be sure you're covered on the issues that will protect you as a pro photographer. Like making sure your photos are officially copyrighted. I don't mean sticking a "Copyrighted by T-Sha (or, TLC)" on them. I mean you need to register your photos with the US Copyright Ofc. (or appropriate international, if you live someplace else). Read this to learn the procedure to copyright (vs. just marking & hoping for the best) your photography:…

    I looked at your website. Some thoughts on that. Which will likely earn me a thumbs down too. But someone needs to say it (it's like the people who audition for American Idol because no one tells them they may not have the talent to win...). 1st, it's great that you set up a website if you want to run a pro photo business. So kudos on that!. But, it looks too cutesy for a pro business. It looked to me like something some 14-16 year old girl would have as her personal website. I'd suggest doing a Google search of professional photographers' websites and see what they look like and the serious business image they project (no, purple paisley impressions). Honestly, unless I was another teen and the fee would be $5-10 I wouldn't look further than that Web template. The link I gave you above is affiliated with Wordpress. Check them out for other design ideas.

    Now, the even tougher assessment. Your photographic skills really need a lot more experience & amping up. For the most part the shots are very average looking (you will get a rare gem, like the B/W close-up dog portrait). You are not framing & composing your shots effectively,not using dramatic or evocative lighting & not producing results that make me as a viewer say, "Wow". They look like what most people could achieve with their first dSLR and a lot of enthusiasm to shoot anything they see. Try some more unique angles, or some adjustments to depth of field, and your lighting needs work. To sell photos in order to make a living (or even healthy pocket change) you'll need to step up your game. Take some classes at a local community college or pro camera store.

    Good luck! I hope you can pull it all together & make your biz work. You seem to have a genuine passion for being a photographer. But running a biz requires patience, fortitude, skill at what you're offering and lots of luck. If you are a teen, you likely don't want to hear this. But I was a teen once too & worked hard to achieve the things I have...

    Source(s): Photog
  • 9 years ago

    Make it understandable like it were being explained to children. Not everyone knows what you know. Business should be about what people need so find what they need in your business and sell it. Imagine if someone opened a store selling personalized business advertisement tools and they did this out of their home. The people need to have a reason to come in that draws them in. They won't just go open the door without an invitation and an idea of what the business does. Sales and explanation of the work you do exactly how it's done. Look at picture people in the mall and how they advertise. They do it by allowing the passerbys to see first hand what's happening, as well as pictures of their work and so on. It helps put the picture together for everyone. Standing outside the store and handing out fliers (or hiring someone for a week to do it) and stand at a booth or table showing a portfolio or something. Cheap is always good, offering framing etc. I dunno thinking from the outside. Kids, teens like to have pics with their friends. They pay little, but they do it alot., Coupons in the mail or local advertisement reeling them in works well also.

  • 9 years ago

    Tax wise, depending on where you live (country) you don;t have to worry for a couple of years but if you don;t start making a positive cash flow within 2 or 3 years, the IRS or Revenue Canada or HM Revenue and Customs or whatever your revenue agency is called ... will simply declare that what you do isn;t a business but is a hobby and will refuse many of your deductions but that should not be a problem at the start ... most businesses have a couple of loss years to start.

    Best thing to do is contact an accountant, he'll be able to explain this to you and his services are (depending on where you are) tax deductible as a professional service.

    Now as far as your business generating activities ... you need to get the word out and to do that, you need money. Do a direct mail campaign, check out any trade shows that might apply to the type of photography you do.

    I hit the Ottawa Wedding Show twice a year and my wife and I plan on going to Sexapolousa (a sexual trade show ... outfits, "toys" ... that kind of thing) to promote my currently non existent boudoir photography. If you do baby pictures, check out any baby/newborn trade shows, try to partner with a local maternity clothes store to offer discounts on your photography if they buy amount of product ...

    All this, of course, costs money. The old adage of "You need money to make money" is VERY true.

    I currently spend 3000$ Canadian a year just on the Ottawa Wedding Show but it generates about 10 weddings a year so it's currently mostly paying for itself. I do have to admit that I should put more effort into it but I have another full time job, just bought a house, have a 10 week old girl ... just been too busy. :(

    Being a self employed photographer is less about photography and more about business.

  • photog
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    hahahaha - sorry but this sort of thing makes me curl up laughing.

    BEFORE you set up on your own you should have sorted out your business plan which should have included HOW to get customers and again before setting up you should have had enough business to keep you going for at least the first month or two.

    WHY on earth have you "given" anything away?

    As you have found it gets you absolutely NOWHERE.

    You are learning the hard way that it is not enough to just call yourself a business, you have to be a business. You obviously are not.

    Sorry to be harsh but I have absolutely no sympathy as all this should have been sorted out before you started in earnest.

    If you did not put together a proper business plan which would have included how, how many and where you would get customers from then there is not a lot you can suddenly do now.

    As to your question about tax - call the tax office.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 9 years ago

    One word: Network, network, network. I guess that's 3 words, but one idea. Get in touch with other photographers who may photograph in a little different genre, put your business card EVERYWHERE, make up a postcard send or place in lots of places ( is a very reasonable place to order both these), put on every bulletin board you can find, send or take to churches, sports groups in your town, look in paper for newborns and send to parents, schools, animal lovers (vet bulletin boards), are you getting what I mean. List some of your prints on free websites to sell your work - is a good site (they charge $ .20 each item for 4 months listing and they are a quality place to list). IRS will give you so many years to prove you're a business then they drop your tax # etc. You're supposed to make profits... I wish you well!!

    Source(s): MFA degree, free lance artist, former art instructor, etsy seller
  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    You are encountering a very common problem, and that is not being prepared to run a business.

    The fact that you have only spent $2,000 leads me to believe that you are vastly under-capitalized especially when it comes to advertising. To give you an idea, I do wedding photographer and spend almost $20,000 per year on advertising.


    I should also point out that most businesses lose money for 2-3 years before they become profitable.

  • 3 years ago


    Source(s): Learn Photography Easily
  • Ivor
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    Network with past clients ask for recommendations and introductions, but be helpful to the as well. Network with other photographers offer assisting, if they start to trust you they may refer business.

    Source(s): I have receive many wedding referrals from booked photographers.
  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    It generally takes a year to start making money in a new business. Before that, you are lucky to break even. All your expenses are tax-deductible, so you won't be paying any taxes.

  • 9 years ago

    You sound like you have no idea what you're doing.

    Which would make you perfect for Craigslist.

    Advertise there.

    But really, if you're this ignorant of the industry, you're still just a hobbyist.

    It's one thing to not make a profit. But no paying clients means you're not really in business.

    Source(s): I can hack it
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.