How to design a home photography business so your business is in your home, not your home in your business
I have been in business since 1995 and have had the experience of both a home office setting and a professional studio. There are pros and cons to each. The question I am asked the most is how did I know it was time to move to an outside space? This article will explain how to set up a home photography business.
Before you consider starting your home photography business, you should have completed your photography business plan. By having a grasp on your budget and your market niche you can design your space accordingly. You should have already checked with the local zoning laws. Some cities and counties do not allow for home businesses if you have clients or delivery trucks coming to your home. It varies from city to city so you need to read the regulations that apply to your municipality and abide by them. If you are good to go then lets get started setting up your home photography business.
The space requirements will vary depending on what market niche you have chosen. I have seen photographers successful with as little as 200 sq. ft and some with the luxury of over 1000 sq. ft. Where ever you decide to locate your business in your home, keep it as separate from you living quarters as possible. The ideal home photography business should have the following:
- A separate entrance
- Convenient parking
- A reception room with adequate size portrait samples
- A restroom and or changing room
- A camera room at least 12′ wide by 15′ long
- A sales room
- A work area and or office space
That sounds like a lot of space and sometimes people have to make an addition to their home. The ideal area is usually the lower level (basement) of the home. Some people also have their garage space converted to living space. Not all seven criteria have to be met to be successful. You can double up on space if needed for example the camera room can also serve as the sales room or the reception room can serve as a sales room. Keep in mind that the most important room in your business in going to be your sales room. Have plenty of samples and show what you want to sell. If you do not want to sell 8 x 10’s do not show any. Only show large portraits and show your best work.
Your home office can have a homey appeal, however make sure you have adequate lighting, good quality carpet, freshly painted walls and a good looking reception area. First impressions are made in the first 15 seconds! If you have pets, do not let them roam around (for fear of allergic clients). If you have a family, make sure they know you are at work, even though you are at home. Your customer comes first, whether you are at home or outside the home.
Having an office and family life co-existing can cause some strain on family life. If you don’t have a family, you still need a life. Remember the reason you got into business in the first place was to support your lifestyle. I cannot stress enough how important it is to separate your personal life from your business life.It is tempting to work after the kids go to bed or on a Sunday. (like I am now) However you can get quickly burned out by working around the clock. Make a schedule and stick with it as much as possible. Learn a new hobby (photography is no longer your hobby, it is your profession). Take walks, join a health club, get involved with the community. Your life will be fuller and richer, if you are involved in more activities besides work.
If you decide to have a home photography business you may grow out of it some day. That is what happened to me. I had no plans to move out of the home, until a parcel of land close by my house was subdivided into 45 office condos. It seemed too good go be true. I talked it over with my husband, and we decided to take the plunge and purchase a unit. It was the best decision I could have ever made. My studio is only 2 blocks from my house, but it seems a world away. I go to work from 10-5 every day and sometimes on Saturdays too. I rarely work off-hours. It has been a good environment for me because I am a Type-A personality. If you are considering a studio setting outside the house your finances should be sound and you should have plenty in savings for the slow months. I highly recommend purchasing a building so you can build equity as a future investment. Lastly, you should be grossing at least $150,000 per year before you take this giant step. The photography industry has become very saturated since 2008. Make sure you are different than other photographers and have superior customer service. A home photography business can provide a good start to a photography career!
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