A lot can be thrown around about how to become a professional photographer. Some people will tell you to just go for it and throw every inhibition to the wind in order to follow your dreams! Sure, that sounds great when they say it, but they aren’t the ones risking the time, money, and energy that goes into being an entrepreneurial photographer.
There’s a serious difference in dreaming and doing, and a serious difference in following your dreams and following a detailed plan. The photographers who succeed are the ones who follow the detailed plan.
Now, I’m not trying to rain on your parade. I’m just being honest. I want you to succeed. I don’t want to see you lose your car, your house, and your drive to succeed. That’s why I’m going to give you the truth about becoming a professional photographer.
There’s a reason that one of the most asked questions I get is about the steps to becoming a professional photographer. It’s because a lot of people want to do, and a lot of people don’t know how to do it, or have failed in doing it.
Here are my steps to becoming a professional photographer: make a plan and follow the plan. It’s all about organizing a plan of attack and sticking to it patiently, trusting in the process. It’s no different than starting any other business. It’s all about hard work and patience.
But, what goes into a plan? Well, I recommend coming up with five different legs of income. Think of it like this; you are sitting on a stool with three legs. If one leg breaks, you fall to the ground. However, if you’re sitting on a stool with five legs and one breaks, you might wobble for a moment, but you stay on the stool. The legs of the stool are your sources of income. You want to have enough sources of income coming in that if one fails, or stops producing money, you still have four more to support you.
Your five sources of income could be anything. You could…
- Sell prints
- Teach workshops
- Write photography ebooks
- Work with travel bureaus
- Sell online courses
- Writing articles
- Partnering with photography companies
Theses are just a few ideas that could go toward your five sources of income. Come up with five different sources or income on your own that fit what you want to do as a photographer, and then write out a plan to make those happen. Don’t just say, “I’m going to do this and it’ll just happen as it will happen.” No, you need to have a direct plan in place to know where you’re going.
The next part of the process is all on you.
You have your plan in place.
Now it’s time to do it.
You have to work harder than anyone else to make your plan happen.
Not only work harder, but smarter.
And this can only happen through doing and learning on the fly.
Don’t get caught up in how long it’s taking, just trust in your plan and keep grinding away, working towards your goal.
Here’s a personal story about me and how long it took me.
I remember when I told my wife I wanted to be a photographer. I could tell that she had her doubts, but luckily she said that I could as long as I didn’t put us in a bind financially. So, I worked on my photography as a part time job on nights and weekends. I got my five legs of the stool going so I could have trickles of income coming in.
You know what?
It took a long time.
Six years of working, learning, and working some more led me to where I am today. A full time landscape photographer.
It was extremely hard.
It took way longer than I wanted it to.
But I did it, and I think you can do it too.