You’ve landed tons of gigs, already built a decent network of photo buyers, clients keep coming back for more, but you’re still broke and the dream of being a succesful photography business owner is quickly dying.
We’ve all been there and regardless of how much you charge per assignment or how much you earn from stock sales each month, your success won’t last until you understand the science (actually, the math) behind what it truly costs to operate a photography business.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and maybe again, but not too many times so it doesn’t piss you off), there’s a big difference between being a successful photographer and running a successful photography business.
The NPPA Cost of Doing Business Calculator will help you figure out what your operating expenses are, as well as allow you to estimate earnings based on the combination of total yearly assignment shooting days and stock photo sales.
By plugging in HONEST expense figures and tinkering mainly with the desired salary, billable assignment days and stock earnings, things will start coming into focus concerning what you’ll need to earn per assignment to cover OPEX.
Keep in mind, as a sole-proprietor (with theoretically no payroll), you can feasibly omit salary figures because all of your earnings are more-or-less pocketed anyway. When you’ve got a family to feed, kids going off to college or other “grown-up” stuff to attend to, this might not be the case.
Also, the retirement fund option can be disregarded if you’re relatively young and unconcerned with hoarding cash in a savings account. Otherwise, simply view this optional category as savings account deposits for a ‘rainy day fund’ (i.e. unexpected occurrences).
Also, remember to keep an eye on your ACTUAL expenses compared to your PROJECTED expenses as time goes by. Nothing is stagnant in life — or at least let’s hope not — making fluctuations and alterations in your spending habits inevitable.
Figuring out your CDB is just one of the many responsibilities you’ll need to attend to at the beginning of your photo business venture, but it’s a big one you don’t want to skip.
Before you can run you’ve got to know how to walk. That’s why getting paid like a professional photographer requires starting at step one.