Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase through my links.
Welcome to my very first income report!
For a long time I've entertained the idea of sharing the "behind-the-scenes" of my business; projects I'm working on, lessons I'm learning, strategies I'm trying out, and the different sources of income I have. I've been putting this off for a while because the truth is, the idea of disclosing my "private" information to the world is pretty scary.
But then I asked myself what I was really afraid of, and the biggest thing that was holding me back was the thought of being criticized by my peers. I kept imagining other photographers mocking how much (or little) I make, or misconstruing my intent and thinking I was just trying to show off.
What I realized is this: I'm going to be judged no matter what I do, so I might as well go for it. Because I truly believe this is going to be helpful for photographers looking for ideas or inspiration on how to make money with their art.
So, without further ado, here’s what I made with my business in October:
Freelance Photography Income - $2,604.47
Freelance Writing Income - $80 (Photzy.com)
Workshop Income - $445
Affiliate Income - $10.30 (Amazon Associates)
Miscellaneous Income (private sponsors, partnerships, or affiliate promotions that I am not allowed to disclose) - $250
Total Income: $3,389.77
Adobe Creative Cloud - $42.78 (They billed me twice this month, normally just $21.39)
Backblaze - $5
Squarespace - $10
PPA - $27.92
Pixieset - $20
Dropbox - $9.99
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course - $167 (purchased with discount)
Facebook/Instagram ads - $30
Total Expenses: $312.69
Please note: The “total income” figure is the gross amount I earned, so it doesn’t account for any of the fees I incur after receiving payment. My “total expenses” lists my recurring business expenses or any major purchases I made. It does not include the smaller tax-deductible expenses I incur on a daily basis (coffee purchases when meeting with a client, Paypal fees, etc.)
P.S. If you’re looking for a great resource to help you deduct expenses in your business, check out this Tax Deduction Checklist created by Rachel Brenke, who runs TheLawTog.com. (Yes, those are affiliate links!)
You’ll notice that in addition to freelance photography, I also write for Photzy.com, an online training site for photographers. I met the creator of the site a few months ago n a photography group on Facebook, and started writing for his site in August. Writing isn’t a huge bulk of my income by any means, but it’s a great way to get more traffic to my site and make a little bit of money while writing content to help other photographers.
What happened in October
This month, I wanted to see if I could make some passive income by earning commissions through the affiliate links on my blog. (If you’re not sure what affiliate marketing is, it’s basically getting paid money for referring people to products or services that you use.)
Since I already belong to a ton of Facebook groups (most of them photography or business-related) and contribute to them regularly, I had an idea: Instead of typing out my Instagram handle at the end of every post, I left a link to my website encouraging people to sign up to my email list. I figured once they were on my site, they might be interested in reading my blog and becoming a subscriber.
Guess what? I was right! 19 items were ordered through my affiliate links this month (that includes two Mitakon lenses!), resulting in a commission of $41.89. I also earned 112 new email subscribers!
$41.89 might not seem like much, but it’s really promising because my site is just starting to grow. The more content I write, the more traffic I’ll get, and hopefully, the more affiliate income I’ll earn.
Getting into Video
I love photography, but lately I’ve been wanting to delve into a new creative challenge. A couple of months ago I invested in the Zhi-yun handheld gimbal stabilizer so I can start doing some run-and-gun video work and capture stable footage, and guys, I’m completely hooked. The gimbal works perfectly with my Fuji XT-2 and it’s been super fun creating fun little clips with it.
I’ve even already picked up a couple of video clients! I’m excited to start offering my video services for businesses looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition.
Raising My Prices
The last couple of months have been among my busiest ever, and I’m super grateful. That being said, I’ve been having a difficult time keeping up with new client work, to the point where my turnaround time for delivering images is way longer than I’d like it to be.
I have no desire to be a volume-based photographer. Some photographers make their living by churning out dozens of shoots a month, but I would much rather take on a few select clients and ensure that they’re getting 100% of my effort and attention. It’s a win for everyone that way.
So this month, I raised the price for my portrait sessions so I can free up my time to focus on bigger-picture strategies for my business.
Shifting My Focus
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking regarding where I want to take my business, and I’ve realized that I will never be completely fulfilled unless I’m helping people in some way. I absolutely love shooting portraits, but I love connecting and helping other photographers on their own journeys just as much.
I met with my friend Justin recently to talk about rebranding my business and website so that the focus is more so on my consultant and educator role. I’ll still be shooting portraits, but the ultimate goal is to make my living by helping creatives succeed in their own businesses.
Fashion & Portrait Workshop
Speaking of helping other creatives, I hosted my very first workshop last weekend! For the past month and a half, I’ve been meeting with my friend and fellow photographer Ethan Gaskill to plan this workshop, where we covered topics like how to work with modeling agencies, how to style wardrobe for fashion portraits, shooting in natural and studio light, editing and retouching, and so much more. We had a great turnout, it was so wonderful seeing having everyone come together to socialize and further themselves in their craft.
After you factor in expenses like gear & equipment, studio rental, Paypal and Stripe fees, catered lunch, and advertising, Ethan and I each made about $445. Hosting the workshop gave us a platform to share what we’ve learned in this industry while also bringing people of the community together., and it was so gratifying! We’re interested holding future workshops that cover topics like establishing a social media presence, finding clients for your business, and establishing yourself in your chosen niche. If you have any ideas for other topics we can cover, please email me and let me know. I’m always open to suggestions!
Goals for November
Here are a few goals I want to aim for next month:
Continue to post consistently across social media (Facebook, Instagram, and perhaps even Pinterest, which I’m new to.)
Pitch my video services and work with at least three local businesses
Increase traffic to my website using email, social media, and SEO
Make sure each webpage contains at least one affiliate link
Rebrand my website to reflect the new direction of my business
I hope you guys found this report helpful or inspiring in some way. As always, please feel free to leave a comment to give me any feedback you have. Thank you for reading!