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How to hit 100k income as a photographer

Do you want to make $100 000 as a photographer? Are you wanting to be successful in your business and thinking about dreams of hitting six figure annual revenue? It is not at all out of the realm of possibilities, and a LOT of photographers are doing it every single day. Here are our top tips for working towards that milestone if you’re almost (or not even close) to the mark.


Treat your Photography as a Business

The first step in hitting six figures is making sure you are operating as a business and not a hobby. This means you have a registered business, a brand, marketing strategy, a separate bank account, you’ve done your cost of doing business and you offer products and services that generate revenue. You simply can’t get to this level if you are giving away free sessions and doing work to build your portfolio. Yes, it’s absolutely important to do those things as you start out, or even when you pivot to different genres of photography, but as a business owner you need to think about income. Are you generating revenue and thinking in ways that can bring in $100 000 as a photographer? If you have your business set up but the revenue is lacking, read on.

Consistency, Grit & Tenacity

Businesses don’t grow on hope and wishes. They take effort, time and planning. It is hard work, but if you persist and keep at it, you can build this thing. Don’t give up if this is what you truly want. Surround yourself with photographers who are crushing their goals and have a full calendar. This will help you maintain your momentum and see what is possible for others. If someone else can make $10,000 per month in their photography business, it shows you what is possible for you too. Making $100 000 as a photographer is not out of the realm of possibilities.

Write down your goals and come back to them as you track how you’re doing. If you need a way to set annual goals, download our free Focus Workbook. It’s the most useful tool to reflect on the past year and decide (with intention) how to map out next year. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen if you keep nurturing your business consistently. 

Revenue Streams & Pricing

I am a firm believer that you need multiple revenue streams in order to increase your income. It also helps protect your income should one of those streams stop generating revenue for any reason. Revenue streams in this business include selling products, offering workshops, or doing sponsorships. If you are only charging clients for the session, you are leaving money on the table. Specifically, you are not giving customers the opportunity to buy products from you, such as prints. As photographers we have access to higher quality products like albums and canvases than a consumer does. People want quality and custom products that they can display and showcase their photos.

You may have heard the term In-Person Sales. To me, this simply means giving the customer options to buy products. There are many ways to do this, but at the heart is the idea that you can sell a product. If you want to get started in terms of why and how IPS works, click here to enrol in our free email series.

In terms of pricing, take care to think about your costs and what you are paying yourself for each session. Many photographers are surprised after they review their costs that they are losing money by doing the session. Your time is worth more than you think. You need to cover the cost of gas to the session, parking, possibly paying venue fees, your gear or rental gear, props. Not to mention costs that are ongoing such as insurance and subscription fees for photoshop to name two of many! Slowly increasing your prices over time so you don’t shock yourself or your clients is important. Costs are continously rising for everything on this planet, and you need to keep up with inflation in order to pay yourself too. 

photography business

Get Involved

Networking and becoming known in your field means you need to get involved in your community and get your name out there. Attending charity events, galas and silent auctions are important ways for people to learn about you and continue to see your business come up in their area. You can be involved in raising funds for a cause that’s important to you while at the same time building a client base.

The next time that people connected to a charity think of hiring a family photographer, they will remember you and their interaction with your or the charity. Or even better, make a way for people to follow you on social media so they can see your future posts about holiday mini shoots. Start an email list, get people to like your Facebook page, and keep in contact with people you meet. These actions contribute to marketing efforts and generating revenue.

Become an Expert

People pay more for the work of an expert. If you want to make more money, you need to be more valuable than other photographers around you. So how are you standing out from the crowd? Do you do newborn photos with a specific style that has the opportunity to be something big? Do you create family portraits that are unique? Is your customer service and product packaging exceptional?

If you wanted to get help with a certain health care issue, would you rather go to a generalist who may or may not know enough to help you, or would you want to go to a specialist with years of experience in that area? Become the specialist. Pick a niche and be known for that thing in your area. If you look at “famous” photographers you follow on social media, I bet you can tell their photos from just looking at them. Experts have distinct styles and ways of presenting their art. You can do this too.

It’s a Numbers Game to Get to $100 000 as a Photographer

So what do you need to bring in $100 000 as a photographer per year? That’s about $8,000 per month or about $2,000 per week. You can quickly see if you only charge session fees, it will either take a TON of sessions to get to this amount (like 10 sessions at $200/month), or you can do 1 session (say $500 session fee with $1500 worth of prints, albums and canvases), or 2 sessions (say $300 session fee x2 and $700 worth of prints for each).

Basically you either sell a lot of cheap items, or you can sell a few high-end items. Does that feel do-able or get you thinking? There are so many ways to play with these numbers. You have to start where you’re at and tweak the numbers for $100 000 to fit your business model. Trust in what you are building and continue to make decisions to work towards higher revenue.