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Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Lesson 45 of 48

Workload: Business Plan Part Two

Kathy Holcombe

Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

45. Workload: Business Plan Part Two


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:07:01
2 How To Price Your Products Duration:05:01
4 Methods For Pricing Duration:10:38
5 Mark Up Factors On Products Duration:05:46
6 What Is Your Per Hour Figure Duration:04:45
8 Target Sales Average Duration:08:04
11 Bundling Pricing Strategy Duration:25:47
12 Pre-Design Pricing Strategy Duration:10:33
13 Album Pricing Strategies Duration:10:33
14 Example Pricing List Duration:17:33
15 Business Basics Overview Duration:07:07
17 Track Your Session Counts Duration:07:19
18 Know Your Sales Average Duration:06:41
19 Importance Of Data Analysis Duration:10:14
20 Overview Of Costs Duration:13:46
23 What Do You Want To Accomplish Duration:13:31
24 Take A Leap Of Faith Duration:20:19
25 Refine Your Vision Duration:12:44
26 Products That Sell Duration:07:48
27 Identify Pricing Strategies Duration:03:03
29 Album Pricing Strategy Example Duration:09:21
33 Sales Strategies Overview Duration:05:45
38 Album Pre-Design Duration:18:51
39 Marketing: Define Yourself Duration:12:55
40 Who is Your Ideal Client? Duration:05:12
41 Who is Your Ideal Partner? Duration:03:27
43 Marketing Strategies that Work Duration:17:10

Lesson Info

Workload: Business Plan Part Two

Part two, the workload. And this is where we can get ourselves into trouble either way, right? If we have too much business, it can be horrible. You're up all night long working. If you have too little business, you don't have any money to pay yourselves. And so this is really a balancing act. And so Peter and I have always established the work we're going to do by the time that we're willing to invest in our business, not the other way around. So I like to work 20 hours a week. I like to be a mom the rest of the time. That's where I draw my line. So it all comes down to how much can I accomplish in 20 hours a week? Because that's it. I don't want a life that involves more than that. Peter has his own line that he's drawn. You guys will draw your own line. But if you were looking at another job, you would not go into that saying, well, I'm just gonna work 24 hours a day, right? You would wanna know what the parameters were of this job that you were considering. And so you've got to set...

that boundary for yourself in your own business. Because yesterday, Peter talked about, he spent 80 days in a row without a day off. Because what happens is you get started, and the more you work, the more money you make, hopefully. And that can be intoxicating. That can be really exciting. You keep charging, you keep charging, you keep charging. Then all of a sudden two months later, you're like, oh my gosh, why don't I just get another job where I can have a day off? And so you have to be really careful when it comes to your workload to balance what you need to accomplish with what you need to refresh your body and spirit, okay? So draw the line right now. Number one on part two, write it down. How much are you going to work? And then stick to it. Don't compromise on that. Stick to it. That's the biggest issue with photographers is we burn ourselves out. So commit to it. And then, how many weeks are you going to work in the year? That's an interesting question, isn't it? Because when we own our own business, we don't have two weeks a year or four weeks a year or whatever it is. We have to define that each for our own businesses. For Peter and I, I mean, we travel a lot, and we like to travel at times without working. And so what is it that makes this business worthwhile for you? How many weeks do you want off? Write it down and then take that time. Right now, when you write that down, you're giving yourself permission to take a vacation, and you're also giving yourself the incentive to get your work done in the amount of time you've allocated. So once you get to this, commit to it and stick to it. How many weeks are you gonna take off? How many weeks are you gonna work? So once you define how much time you have to dedicate to this business, whatever that is for you, then you can determine how many sessions you can do. So we talked about an efficient photographer spends eight hours on a portrait session. An efficient photographer spends 40 hours on a wedding. If you're new it's gonna take a lot more time because you're also learning through that process. So when you look at it that way, each week, if you are focusing on portrait sessions, and we also talked earlier about being able to work on client work only about half of the time. The other half you actually have to run the business. You have to do marketing, and you have to do meetings, and you have to meet with your accountant, and you have to do all those other things that are involved in running a business. So really, if you think about that, that gives you, if you work 40 hours a week, you can count on 20 hours of that to be dedicated to client work, unless you're super duper efficient at running a business. So 20 hours a week to work on client work. You can do about three portrait sessions, or you can do a wedding every two weeks. Okay? Does that help give you an idea of the workload that you can expect to take on? So if you're coming into this industry and you say, I wanna do 150 weddings this year, and you're all by yourself, that's the impossible mission. I'm just gonna tell you right now, don't do that. You will be so sad. (laughs) So now it's time to commit to the type of sessions that you want to do and the number of sessions that you want to do. You need to decide it upfront. If you equally love weddings and portraits, plan on doing an equal amount of work. That doesn't mean you can do the same number of weddings that you can portraits. So base it on the hours that you can invest in it. You can do one wedding every two weeks or six portrait sessions every two weeks. They're comparable. So write down how many sessions and what kind you're going to do this year, and commit to it, and say, yes, I am going to do everything that I can to get 10 weddings this year. Yes, I'm gonna do everything that I can to do 40 portrait sessions this year. Or some combination of the two, or whatever kind of photography you wanna do. And stick to that plan. Guesstimate if you don't know for sure how long each session will take you. And here's the really neat thing. So if you're just starting out and you're just doing this business plan for the first time, a lot of this is guessing. When you start to write these things down and you're like, I don't know the answer to that, make your best guess. It's gonna be kind of a wild guess at first, but when you come back and you do the same thing next year and you write your new business plan next year, you're gonna have some foundation to base it on. What were you successful at this year? What do you need to change? Did you work too much? Did you work too little? Did you book too many sessions, not enough sessions? All of those things. So you're gonna have to build some experience along the course of the year. Make your best guess right now and then charge. And then how much money do you need to make next year to make this time investment worthwhile? See how we've kinda worked backwards here? We said we're gonna set the time, and now we're gonna choose a dollar amount to make that worthwhile. And this really is the pivotal decision of any business owner. You have to be able to say I am accepting this job for myself, I'm gonna work this hard, and I expect to be paid this much. And if I can't figure out how to make those two things happen, I really shouldn't own my own business. So that's why we're doing the math right now to make sure this is a good decision for you and your business. Is it even possible? So write that number down. Remember, for a home-based studio, the national average is about $40,000 a year as a salary. That's the average. There are studios that make way more than that, studios that make way less than that. For a retail business, it's $78,000. There are studios that make more than that. There are studios that make less than that. But that's a target, okay? So if you, right now, you're writing down $500,000 as your salary, you might wanna rethink that. That's not what's happening out there right now. You could be the extraordinary exception, but I would base that on years of experience before you go writing numbers down like that. So you kinda have a ballpark average.

Class Description

Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - startups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. 

This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 



I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.


Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.