Do You Have What It Takes To Succeed As A Full Time Photographer?
When I first told my family I was quitting my job and going to set up in business as a full time photographer, they were aghast. I had comments like ‘but what will you do for money?’ and ‘but everyone is a photographer now. I know three already!‘
I knew that their comments came from a place of love and probably fear too; fear that I wouldn’t have enough money, or that I would fail. But still, I felt slightly saddened, because I felt as though they didn’t think I had what it takes to be successful. They didn’t believe in me.
I knew differently. I knew I could do it. I knew I had what it takes. If you can tick off almost all of the following, the chances are you have what it takes to quit your day job and succeed as a full time photographer too.
If you have had full-paying clients and you have relatively regular enquires, this is a clear sign that your business is heading in the right direction and a sign that your business could potentially succeed for you if you take the full-time leap.
You have a professional camera and equipment. Whether you choose film or digital, if you have a camera and lens kit that probably caused you to take a little bit of a breath before you purchased it, this is a sign that you are prepared to invest in your equipment for your business- another great sign that you have what it takes to become a full time pro.
You are going to need lots of this to succeed as a full time photographer. You need to be able to believe that you can do it at all times; and sometimes, especially during your first two years of business you will almost definitely receive knockbacks, hard times, or moments when you sit down and think ‘why on earth did I choose to give up the comfort of a regular paycheck and a relatively easy job, for this?’
Confidence helps get you through. We don’t mean external confidence- but an inner reserve and grit that you know you can fall back on when things get tough. If you are confident your business could succeed, but you are waiting for other factors to tip the balance before you decide to take the leap as full time-photographer, our advice would be- if possible, don’t wait. Capitalize on your confidence. Inner strength and vision will enable you to succeed when others fail.
Have you bothered to invest in both your photography and your business/marketing education? Too often we have a lot of one and not enough of the other.
If you know you have put in a fair few hours burning the midnight oil, studying and reading and making notes about all that you can learn about photography and marketing; in fact your notebooks and brain cells are practically bubbling over with information, and you’ve begun to apply it to your existing business, congratulations. Seriously.
Underestimating the knowledge you need to be able to succeed is one of the biggest causes of photography business failure – I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. So if you’ve invested in your education and are prepared to continue to do so, this is a good sign that you have what it takes to succeed as a full time photographer.
Ohhh, the ‘boring’ part. Although this may sound dull, boring, and like something you can skip over; you need to read this. In fact, just read this instead.
You are the boring person who declines coffee dates, phone call marathons, and friday night funtime. It doesn’t matter. You have a higher purpose, and you know it’s only temporary. If you want to succeed in business, you’ll be fully prepared for this; in fact you’ll have probably already started doing it. Good self-discipline is a key sign you have what it takes to succeed.
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You can succeed as a full-time photographer– if I can do it, anybody can.
I did it with a tiny baby in tow (and another on the way), no savings, and clearly without any cheerleaders yelling ‘yeah! you can do it!’ in my direction. Because I was the geek who stayed up until 2am listening to podcasts about how to make my business successful. I read a million and one articles about how to make sure my business did not fail. I built on the knowledge I gained during my photography degree course (more about that later). I lost a fair few friends who didn’t understand why I was no longer around 24/7 for long phonecalls or nights out. I got thrills from purchasing my gorgeous new lenses.
I had what it takes. I believe you can have what it takes too, and probably the most important quality you can have when setting up as a full time photographer is this;
Believe you can do it, and you can. The rest you can work upon; use the above list to help you.
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