You’ve been saving up.
Working extra hours where you can.
Dreaming of the day when you can finally make photography a full-time career and create a business with freedom & choice.
There’s a rush of adrenalin, a shortness of breath and a faster pace to your step as you go to check your bank balance and grab your budget sheet to tally it all together.
It’s exciting…. And it’s also maybe just a little bit nerve-wracking, right?
Because what if you’ve not put enough money aside?
What if you’ve under-allocated to a certain section?
And what if you’ve clean forgotten something of crucial importance that will only up to bite you in the a** when it’s several months on and too late to pre-plan for?
Okay, so budgets suck.
There’s no getting around it, especially as there’s seemingly this never-ending list of things to buy when you’re starting out. The whats, wheres, whys and how much are hella confusing!
So, as someone who was once there (and who remembers those frustrations & confusions all too well!) I’ve sifted through a lot of the ‘noise’ for you. You’ll likely have a lot of these on your budget list already, but just in case, give this Essential list a once over, jussssst to make sure you’ve not forgotten anything critical to a smooth & successful biz.
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Ah, insurance. That thing we never want to HAVE to use, but which we’d be pretty lost without if we ever NEEDED it.
Insurance is one of those items that lots of new photographers may forget, because, well, until becoming a professional you just don’t need it. Any photographs that you’ve taken as a hobbyist have been just that – hobbies.
But once clients start coming, contracts start being written, and money starts changing hands. insurance is your number one new best friend!
There’s a quick & easy guide I’ve written that helps you through the ins & outs of insurance – I promise, it’s simple & bite-sized – I know how headache-inducing this kinda stuff can be!
But for now, just remember that you need to budget for both indemnity and professional liability insurance – and take a peek at that post here when you can.
Budgeting for contracts? Well yeah, you’ll need to, unless you’re confident writing your own or have a friend who can help with the legal stuff for you.
Contracts cost money, because they help save you money and stress in the long run. Once you’ve bought a template however, you can tweak that accordingly for every new client in that contract niche.
Each niche of photography will have its own specific clauses, and some will need a 1 page contract, others a heftier 5+ pager.
Contracts cover everything imaginable, including scheduled times, delivery of photographs, Acts of God clauses, payment agreements, expectations from both client and photographer, limitations to your services, and so on…
You’ll need to buy, at the very least, a basic photography contract. Check out this post here all about the essentials every contract needs. And if you want to make life easier, grab the done-for-you template and remove the headache!
Cameras & Lenses – Plural!
Cameras and lenses?! Well duh Laura, that’s a given if you want to take some photographs!
But notice the emphasis on the PLURAL here. Lots of new photographers only budget for 1 body and 1 lens at the very start, because starting a business is pricey, right?
However, imagine this – you’re on that photo shoot with that client you’ve been trying to book forever…. and you drop your camera. Aaaargh! Or your lens seizes up. Or your camera won’t switch on. Hopefully you’ve already done a pre-shoot check (remind yourself here of ways to make your life easier), but that doesn’t account for any random accidents. And accidents DO happen.
Budgeting for 2 camera bodies and at least 2 lenses adds considerably to your budget, sure. I know this, so I’m not just randomly adding it into your budget list lightly.
But remember – they don’t have to be brand new. Second-hand bodies & lenses (when bought from really reputable companies who you know have properly evaluated them) can be terrific value for money, and allow you to spread that start-up budget a lot further.
And for experienced photographers too – there’s always a bargain to be found, and some beautiful ‘like new’ lenses on the market, so definitely remember to take a look.
If you’re a wedding photographer, then you’ll need at least 2 bodies and 2 lenses to do a standard day’s work anyway. Otherwise, you’ll be continually changing lenses and missing photo opportunities the whole day long.
Call & Data allowances
You might be using your personal phone, or keeping your old number, or getting a new contract…. whichever you choose is great, just as long as you’ve got a contract that can cover your needs.
If you’re going to use your normal personal phone, do you need to upgrade your call allowance? do you need more data? Don’t forget, you might be out and about a lot, showing clients your work via your phone, or just even setting up in a coffee shop to do emails & send contracts in-between jobs.
Having a good data plan is necessary to avoid any extra (and horribly expensive) surprise charges at the end of the month!
And if you’ll be travelling abroad and needing to work somewhere which doesn’t have wi-fi access, again, ensure your data allowance covers roaming & foreign usage. You don’t want to be sipping coffee at a beachfront location whilst working on your edits, to get home and find the data charges equal the cost of the vacation itself!
Are you a whizz at designing business cards?
Or can you whip up a flyer or promo leaflet in 10 minutes?
There’s often a misconception that because you’re a photographer, and can therefore use Photoshop & other software, that you must be a dab hand at design.
They’re very different skills, and it’s important to know what your time and efforts are worth.
If you can design well & it’s a good use of your time, go for it!
However, if it’s going to take you hours to do something that a template or a designer could help with in mere minutes, then budget for it.
Could the 1 hour spent designing a business card be better spent working on your edits or contacting clients? Isn’t it worth buying a $10 template to save this time?
It’s great to try to design things yourself, but only if you’ve got the time & resources – otherwise pay for your time by using a designer or an affordable template.
My favourite place to go for templates and design resources is Creative Market.
There are other resources out there for sure, but this is a great place to begin with at least.
And, if you want to really know how to utilize a budget, plan your finances, work out how to start thinking about client pricing AND put a proper cost on your time, pop across to Pricing Made Easy, the ready-made system designed to make your pricing easier!
With a comprehensive course, worksheets and ready-to-use calculators (to do all that difficult math for you) it’s the essential foundation you need to know your numbers, inside out…. so don’t be lost without it!
Catch up again soon,