8 Secrets to Creating a Photography Side Hustle While Working a 9-5

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Ever consider starting a photography side hustle? Today we’re going to explore 8 secrets to building that dream while you’re still working a 9-to-5 job.

Small steps every day will inch you closer to your goal! If you have a family like I did when I started photography, you have the motivation of providing for your family, but you also have to get creative building your business because of the time it requires. I want to start here because learning anything new requires not only a financial investment, but an investment of your time.

Any new venture will require us to be more focused during our down-time. But knowing we’re building something for our future is always a good motivator! 

I need to caution you, though, that diving into something headfirst will make you want to spend all your time learning, implementing, and mastering your craft. If you have small children and even older children, take it from me and pace yourself! Don’t compromise your time with them. You don’t want to look up 10 years down the road to have built a multi six-figure photography business, yet not really remember spending much time with your kids or spouse. It will hurt your heart! We cannot get time back so use it wisely to build your side hustle.

So, you have a 9-to-5 and you feel like a bird in a cage. You want to do something fun and flexible. Something that allows you to be creative and fulfils you. I did, too! 

Here are some of the steps I took to start my photography side hustle that you can implement today!

1. Begin your research.

Begin looking at other photographers’ work, websites, how they market themselves, and the way they present themselves in captions on social media. Begin to develop an opinion as to what appeals to you most. What about their work appeals to you? What are they taking pictures of? How do their photos make you feel? What do you find yourself gravitating toward? Consider what you already know to be your strengths.

2. It actually doesn’t take that much equipment to get started. 

All you need is a camera lens, a subject, and the drive to learn. Do your research and decide which camera body you would like to use.  I’m a Canon girl, but I started out with an Olympus. If you’re not sure which to invest in or don’t have funds just yet to make a large purchase, find someone who will let you borrow theirs. Or rent a camera!

In many cases, cameras will come with a kit lens. But if it doesn’t, I recommend purchasing a 50mm prime lens. You can always add more lenses to your equipment list, but this will get you started. 

3. Practice, Learn and Implement.

If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend shooting everything in the beginning. Take pictures of family, friends, and friends of friends. Be a second or third shooter at a wedding for the experience. Photograph children, families, newborns, senior portraits, and engagements until you feel comfortable with deciding on a niche and even charging. Since you’ll be learning with each new session you shoot – and it’ll likely be free of charge – take this opportunity to be creative and really get outside of your comfort zone. 

Photographing everything in the beginning will help you determine where you gravitate and who your ideal client is. You’ll develop a preference of who you like working with and photographing. Once you decide who your ideal client is, you can move forward with every other area of your business with that in mind. 

*Pro Tip: Make a folder and save your favorites from each session. The gems that you create will be the ones you use for your future website when the time comes to have one built.

4. Get official!

Before you accept a single dollar for services rendered or products sold, be sure to choose a business name, get a tax ID number, and set up your business entity type with the state. You’ll also want to choose a CPA and insurance if applicable. Find out if you will have to pay or use sales tax. If so, you’ll need to get set up for that. 

5. Let’s talk money!

You can approach this a couple of ways; You can determine what you need to make to replace your income and add 25% (to account for income tax and personal insurance) or make a decision on your income goals. Don’t get this backwards, though. You never want to pick a price for anything out of the air, or even look at what everyone else is doing. Everyone’s income needs and goals are different. Working backwards from your goals will help you decide how to price your services and products so you set yourself up to meet your income goals and be successful. 

6. Good foundations. 

Because you have a 9-5 supporting you now, your photography side hustle isn’t your main bread and butter. I recommend putting your earnings back in your business for the setup of things like your website, various subscriptions associated with your photography business, additional equipment and lenses, etc. If you really want to come onto the scene with a bang and do it the right way from the start, hire an expert to build your website! All of the tools I use are listed at destinytillery.com/tools in case you want to check them out! 

7. Let’s talk about social media.

Create your social media accounts and post regularly. Share your posts to your personal page to let your friends and family know what you’re doing. Keep in mind who you’re talking to… your ideal client! This is who you want attract as the type of client you want to work with. Don’t post newborns if you want to shoot weddings. And don’t be afraid to show your face on social media! You want to be relatable and recognizable to your potential clients.

8. Stay in your lane and rock it out! 

Sometimes you have to put blinders on. Just keep continuing to strive for excellence in all areas! 

If you want to see what other photographers are doing, follow the ones in other states. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT follow local photographer’s in your area. The comparison game is a joy stealing beast that you DO NOT NEED. Especially in the beginning. I have befriended many wonderful photographers in my area and always look for ways to speak highly of them. However, I don’t follow them on social media. The last thing I want is to accidentally steal something from their work or compare my work to theirs.

I hope this helps someone who is drawing in courage to start their side hustle! Just keep moving forward. 

Listen to the full episode now for even more info on how to start your side-hustle!

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