How To Start A Photography Business With No Experience

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A photography business can bring you many benefits, including financial profit and opportunities for creative realization. But as you start planning, there are usually more questions than answers. 

How to get customers? How to present and promote the business online? How to create a suitable, head-turning name? Do you have to register the business? What are the cons of starting such a business? Is it worth it?

And what if you’re a photographer with no experience? This may add to the difficulties.

Let us help you evaluate the pros and cons of starting a photography business. We’ll also provide a checklist that will help you from the very first step.

The pros and cons of starting a photography business 

Starting a photography business has advantages and disadvantages, just like any other business idea.

Start A Photography Business With No Experience

Because of COVID, the last couple of years have been tough for photographers. Many events like concerts and weddings were canceled, and it was rather difficult to find a project, let alone start a photography business.

As of 2021, the industry sustained a 10.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching around $36 billion. Nowadays, the industry will be revived as we try to get back to normal life.

Using checklist templates can be instrumental in organizing and managing the various tasks associated with starting a photography business. Let’s examine the pros and cons of starting a photography business.


  • If photography is your passion, you’re going to love making money with it
  • The hours are very flexible
  • You basically create art
  • You get opportunities to see the world
  • You meet new people, which is good for networking
  • You hire people with similar values 


  • COVID restrictions 
  • Expensive equipment
  • No stable monthly income
  • Picky customers
  • Potentially inconvenient working hours
  • The competition is pretty high

For a photographer with no experience, all of the above, even the cons, can be a great lesson and provide insight into the photography business.

Starting a photography business: a complete checklist

The pros and cons have most likely shown you if starting a photography business is the right path. And if your answer is “Yes, it’s worth the effort!”, let’s see what exactly you should do to enter the first chapter of your business journey.

Write a photography business plan

A business plan is a clear step by step guide on your way to success. Many photographers neglect to make one because they think it’s too official.

Write a photography business plan

In fact, you don’t have to make it too formal. Think of it as a cheat sheet you can use to achieve your business goals ASAP.

Now, let’s see what to include in the plan:

  • Business description.
    Every detail is important. Write 1-3 pages about your business, services, products, etc. What’s your main focus? Portraits? Weddings? What services will you offer? Create a list with every step of the photo production and processing you’ll provide. If you’re not sure about all the details, this is the time to brainstorm.
  • Market analysis.
    Go online and research the photography business market. Learn the niches, how competitive they are, etc. Then, narrow down the research to the area you live in. This will help you determine your target audience.

    Write a perfect customer profile or two. This approach will help you gain users’ attention, especially online.

    Also, find out:
  • The most profitable type of photography.
    Identify the most competitive, profitable niche if it fits your interest.
  • Who your competitors are.
    Competitor research will show you how other photographers promote themselves online, position their business, and grab users’ attention. This will help you find out how you can stand out.
  • Photography business ideas.
    Write down your business ideas based on what you want to do plus what the competitors do (that you can do better or differently).
  • Marketing strategy.
    This section should focus on your photography business promotion. How are you going to attract and retain customers? What will be your digital marketing strategy? Are you going to hire a team or at least one professional to help you with it?

    You need to have at least a basic understanding of what digital marketing is, including website SEO, social media, research of keywords and competitors, etc.

    You’ll need digital tools to research keywords and competitors and monitor website health, so make sure you have a list of handy helpers in your plan.
  • Financial projections.
    Plan finances in advance, and keep in mind that starting a photography business requires some capital. Many professionals say that it’s sufficient to plan for around $10,000, but the total depends on the scale you want to pursue.

    Here are the basic elements of your future business you’ll need to spend money on:
  • Equipment.
    This includes 2 professional cameras (one is for backup), lenses, a tripod (better have 2 for backup as well), lighting equipment, a studio (yours or rented), a speedy computer, editing software (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.), an external hard drive and/or sufficient cloud storage.
  • Marketing tools.
    The digital tools we talked about include a website builder (Wix, Squarespace, etc.), SEO and digital marketing tools to improve the online visibility of your site and get more clients (SE Ranking, etc.), media management, collaboration, and sharing tools (such as PhotoShelter), etc.
  • Operational tools.
    First of all, your payment system should be secure and suitable for most people. An invoicing service and a POS (point of sale) system are must-haves.

    Next, you should have a business license. You’ll have to register with your local government agency to work officially. Find out the terms and requirements of such registration in your area in advance, including the fees.

    Then, you’ll need an EIN (employer identification number), which the IRS assigns to every business in the United States. Again, find out all the details in advance, including the financial ones.

    Finally, you’ll have to get a high-quality CRM (customer relationship management) system like ShootQ or ShootZilla.

Decide on an anchor price

On average, photographers charge $100-$250 per hour, according to A photographer with no experience is either an amateur or a student, so charging over $100 an hour may not be ideal.

Decide on an anchor price

Price your services fairly and don’t just mimic competitors. Your photography business is unique, and its prices should be the same. 

Also, keep in mind that establishing the prices as low as possible just to get clients isn’t going to work. That’s what marketing is for.

Here’s an algorithm that should help you:

  1. Think about how much money you want to make with your photography business in a year.
  2. Estimate your expenses, including taxes.
  3. Consider how much time in a day you want to work and how many shots you can do during those hours. Include all the services you will provide.
  4. Divide the goal number by hours or shoots to estimate the price.

When the “want” and the “can” numbers match or are close to each other, you’ve figured out the average cost.

Of course, make sure your professional skills fit the financial level you want to land on in a year.

Create a business name and register it

As you understand the scope of work connected to starting a photography business and realize it’s attainable, it’s time to create a business name.

Brainstorm for ideas. Any name that represents you and your values is fine, but consider these tips:

  • Include focus keywords in the name. It’s easier to rank higher in the SERPs since people will use queries similar to the name of your photography business.
  • Use your name. This will help you focus on your persona and become the center of the brand.

As you come up with several solid ideas, check social media availability for those names. 

Continuing on the topic of social media and online visibility, implement a uniform branding strategy. Choose account names, colors, fonts, writing styles, etc., that will be consistent throughout the channels.

Finally, you’ll have to register the name legally with the government. In your business plan, you should already have the details or links to local authority sources.

Craft a portfolio

Even if you’re a photographer with no experience, there are ways to create a portfolio.

Craft a portfolio

You can arrange free shoots or use the pictures you shot during classes. Basically, anything that shows your level of expertise at the moment and can justify your prices is OK.

If you have no material, focus on optimizing the website and look for opportunities to show your talent online.

Even if your portfolio is basic at the beginning, you can change it completely as you start getting orders and improving your skills. 

Why is it a necessity?

Whether or not you’re a photographer with no experience, you should show potential customers visiting your website or social media what they can get from your cooperation.

Your style, editing, colors, and types of shoots have to match the needs of the client.

Amp up your digital marketing to find clients

Promoting your photography business is essential. So, we’ve prepared a short guide:

  1. Website.
    Build a website exhibiting your best works, a bit of information about you, contact info, a blog (optional), and customer reviews. You can do it with Squarespace. Just choose a template, secure a domain name, add content, and start promoting your ready-to-use site. It’s easy even for a photographer with no experience in website building.

  1. SEO and marketing strategy.
    Build a strategy to promote your website in the SERPs and acquire more leads. SE Ranking SEO software will help you do this. It provides multiple tools for keyword and competitor research, link building, website SEO audits, and a step-by-step marketing plan for your unique project. The brilliance of the software is that it’s suitable for photographers with no experience in SEO and digital marketing.

    Create an account and get access to thousands of keywords suitable for your site, analysis tools, convenient and easy-to-understand reports, informational graphs, as well as insight into the strategies of your competition.
  2. Set up a Google My Business profile (Google Business Profile now).
    A GMB profile will make your photography business look more reliable. The account should contain your phone number, the address of your office, your website, and additional information.

    In addition, you can post updates, list services and products, accept online purchases, connect with your target audience, accept reviews for social proof, etc. It will also improve the online visibility of your business.As you create a neat GMB profile, consider listing your website in other directories.

    As you create a neat GMB profile, consider listing your website in other directories.
Set up a Google My Business profile
  1. Paid advertising.
    While Google Ads may be way too expensive for a photographer with no experience or a small business, using Facebook and Instagram ads to drive traffic can prove useful. In such a case, using Google Ads for retargeting will be more cost-effective, driving not only visitors but also sales.
  2. Social media.
    Social media is one of the best channels to build a brand, boost brand awareness, and communicate with your audience. Create profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and post-behind-the-scenes footage, showcase your best projects, mention models you work with, etc.
  3. Digital footprint.
    Having an extensive digital footprint means going beyond the standard channels. It’s starting a blog, sharing your expertise, being featured in other niche-specific blogs as an expert, creating accounts on photography, social media for networking, and more. You have to be out there for customers and other professionals to be aware of you.
Digital footprint

Here’s how you can get even more clients

There are more ways you can get customers for your photography business, even if you’re a photographer with no experience:

  • Many websites are looking for stock photos for their articles, social media, ads, etc. Shutterstock, Getty Images, and other services should help you with additional income. Someone may notice your unique style and vision and choose to cooperate with you.
Sell on stock photo websites
  • Donate services to charity events.
    Donating your services won’t cost you more than your time, and the promotion capabilities of such an approach are worth it.
  • Attend events in your target market.
    As you learn more about your target audience, attend events to get more networking opportunities and arrange more shoots. Besides, your photos will be used in articles talking about the event, which is another promotion opportunity.
Attend events in your target market
  • Work on your email list.
    An email list will help you keep in touch with your customers and retain them. Send digests, news, and special offers, but not too often.
  • Create a referral program.
    Do you know that it can cost you up to 5 times more to get a new customer than to get a sale from an existing one?
    Create a smart referral program and ask for a referral at the ‘happy points’ of the customer journey (for example, at the end of the shoot). Offer a great experience, provide rewards, and communicate with clients to encourage them to talk about you.
Create a referral program

How to start a photography business: conclusion

To start a successful photography business, you need to have startup capital, photography equipment and an understanding of how to use it, some knowledge of digital marketing, branding skills, a portfolio, lots of time, and more.

It may seem overwhelming at first. But as you finish a business plan, the picture will become clearer, even if you’re a photographer with no experience.

Create a detailed business plan, identify the people and tools you’ll need, and build a website, portfolio, and some social media accounts

Make sure all of them are in the same colors and style so that people can recognize you. Think of a unique name and register it!

Use digital marketing to get clients and improve your skills. You’ll be grateful for how far you’ve come in a year!

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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