• Ashley Riddle

Turning Your Photography Hobby Into a Career: PART 1

Hi, friend! Welcome to Part 1 of my "Turning Your Photography Hobby Into a Career" series! Since you've made it here, you're probably either just getting started or just genuinely curious what I have to say. Either way, I hope you find this informative and helpful!

I recently had the pleasure of speaking about starting my photography business on a podcast. In preparation for this I asked my Instagram followers if they had any questions for me. One follower asked how to know when a hobby becomes a career. What a great question! I touched on this in the podcast but I had so much more to say. I've been building up content for a while to do this blog series and this seemed like a great starting point!

Here's the thing... in my opinion a hobby becomes a career when you choose to turn it into a career. It's really that simple. I think the moment you make the choice in your head that you want your passion to be more than just a hobby, is when it turns into more than a hobby. You are naturally going to take it more serious and move in the direction of building a business or finding a job in that field.

Building that career takes a bit more thought and time though. There are many layers to this topic with countless discussions to be had which is why this is a series and not just one blog post. My goal is to spread this out so I can go in-depth and help as many people as possible! I want to answer the questions I had when I first got started because I know others have those same questions too!

For starters, I'm going to give you 5 basic steps to take that will set you up for success and point you in the right direction.

5 Beginner Steps to Turn your Hobby into a Career

1. MAKE THE CHOICE - If you're serious about this, make the choice now to believe in yourself and pursue the career of your dreams. Nobody else is going to make it for you. Don't wait around for the approval of others to tell you "it's time." It's honestly not their decision, it's yours. If I can do it, you can totally do it too!

2. PUT IN THE WORK - A career isn't meant to be easy. If you love it, it won't feel like a job, but that still doesn't make it easy. It takes hard work to build your career. Here are a few steps to help you put in the work.

  • Shadow Others - This is a big one. I think it's really important to shadow people and get an idea of how a session or wedding goes and what the workflow looks like. It's totally okay to reach out to others and ask for help! My advice is to always be respectful of their time and remember that this is their business. You are there to learn. This isn't the time to try and practice directing people, it's the time to sit back and take everything in while staying out of the way and not interfering unless you've been asked to do something. Listen, watch, learn. Ask questions during down time or after the session. (I also highly suggest having a conversation before you shadow someone to make sure you're on the same page. Ask things like "what should I wear?" and "will I be able to use these photos for my own portfolio or social media?". Open communication makes for an awesome experience on both ends!) Take the shadowing seriously because it could very well be a foot in the door to shooting with this person in the future!

  • Educate Yourself - There are so many ways to educate yourself. Start with Youtube! There are countless photographers on youtube talking about everything from camera settings to business lessons. Use this! - If you can take professional classes that's definitely a plus, but if you can't then search through all the free resources available and spend time learning from them! There are also Facebook groups that are filled with helpful information!

  • Practice - Most importantly GO SHOOT! Shoot everything you can, practice makes perfect. It's important to shoot as much as you can while you're still figuring things out. Offer free sessions to those in your circle so you will know what you're doing before you start charging people.

3. RESEARCH YOUR AREA - There are so many amazing photographers who all have the same goals, so blending in simply won't work. You need to find out what sets you apart and build your brand on that! It's important to do research on others in your area. This can help you in so many ways. You can choose to see these people as your "competition" or your "inspiration." I personally see the other photographers in my field as inspiration. It's never okay to copy another artist's work, but it's definitely okay to allow their work to inspire you to go out and create something of your own! It's important to see what others are doing so you have an idea of what's out there, and it's important to take note of what they're not doing to see how you can set yourself apart!

4. MAKE A LIST - Or honestly, make a few. Make a list of questions you have and things you'd like to learn. Make a list of things you need to create for your business (name, brand, website, social media, etc.) Make a list of equipment you want and how much it costs. Finally, make a list of goals you want to accomplish, and include HOW you're going to accomplish them! Then, go out and make it happen! Don't make excuses just get up and start crossing things off your lists!

5. GET ORGANIZED - I learned the hard way but hopefully if you take my advice you won't have to. Organize yourself from day 1...whether you feel like it's necessary or not. I can't preach this enough. Don't have the mentality of "I'll organize things when my business gets big enough". Do it right now! Keep all of your information somewhere! For me, it's Honeybook. But if you aren't ready to invest in something yet then just keep a spreadsheet. If you don't have Excel, you can use Google Sheets for free to keep yourself organized! Make sure you keep all of your clients information (names, email addresses, etc.). You should also get a head start on keeping your photos organized because believe me that can get out of control really fast if you don't have a good system. Create folders and sub-folders and use names that are easy to locate when you need to go find them. (It's also really important to back up all of your work. This seems so obvious but I don't think people realize at first how easy it is to accidentally delete something and not have a way to get it back. I'll talk more about this in another post but for now, make sure you're backing up everything!)

If you found this helpful please leave a comment and let me know! This is the first in my new blog series talking all about the business side of photography. I'll be discussing everything from pricing, workflow, branding, etc. Be sure to follow me on Facebook + Instagram @ashleyriddlephotography  to keep up and see when Part 2 comes out! If you're a new follower I'd love for you to say Hi! If you found this helpful, please leave me a comment and let me know!