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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 64 of 87

Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

64. Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool
Avoid shortcuts like buying links and unnatural link exchanges. Then, learn how to use the tool Backlinkwatch.


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1 Class Introduction Duration:13:12
3 The Road Ahead Duration:13:03
4 Find Your Passion Duration:06:06
5 The Lin & Jirsa Journey Duration:13:54
7 Stop Wasting Time & Money Duration:06:07
8 Your 12 Week Roadmap Duration:04:33
9 Great Plans Still Fail Duration:06:01
10 Strategy Vs. Planning Duration:04:16
11 Mind Mapping Duration:07:25
12 Select a Focus Duration:14:16
13 Competitor Research Duration:09:34
14 S.W.O.T. Analysis Duration:13:54
15 Strategy & Long Term Goals Duration:03:50
16 Values, Vision & Mission Duration:27:49
17 Effectively Managing Your Time Duration:15:05
18 Artistic Development Duration:07:30
19 Create Your Plan Duration:13:12
20 What's Your Product Duration:10:51
22 Quick Break for Econ 101 Duration:16:31
24 What's in a Name Duration:09:20
25 Your Client 'Why' Duration:05:43
26 Crafting the Why Experience Duration:24:17
27 Document the Client Experience Duration:08:29
28 Business Administration Basics Duration:27:03
29 Book Keeping Management Duration:06:51
30 Create the Logo & Branding Duration:07:04
31 Portfolio Design Duration:15:11
33 Pricing Fears & Myths Duration:08:46
34 Three Pricing Methods Duration:25:39
36 Psychology of Numbers Duration:07:29
37 Pricing Q&A Duration:23:51
38 Grass Roots Marketing Duration:09:36
39 The Empty Party Duration:07:03
40 Friends & Family Test Shoots Duration:16:28
41 Join Groups Duration:04:32
42 Second Shooting Etiquette Duration:07:44
44 Make Instagram Simple Duration:13:55
45 Your Automated Pinterest Plan Duration:08:01
46 Facebook Because You Must Duration:07:37
47 Giveaway & Styled Shoots Duration:12:17
48 Content Marketing & SEO Duration:08:12
49 The Monster: SEO Duration:07:26
50 Selecting Your Keywords Duration:05:45
51 Testing Your Keywords Duration:07:53
52 Grouping Main & Niche Goals Duration:12:39
53 Your Content Road Map Duration:11:47
54 Content Marketing Q&A Duration:10:45
55 Inspiration to Keep Working Duration:07:45
56 How to Craft Your Content Duration:15:03
57 Internal Linking Basics Duration:05:30
58 Back Link Building Basics Duration:04:55
59 Link Value Factos Duration:14:38
60 Measuring Link Value Duration:04:24
61 Link Building Strategy & Plan Duration:06:10
65 What is Sales? Show Me! Duration:12:58
66 Your First Massive Failure Duration:05:17
67 The Sales Process Duration:07:31
68 Your Second Massive Failure Duration:05:23
69 Understand Buyer Psychology Duration:10:00
71 Step 1: Identify Need or Want Duration:15:39
72 Cognitive Dissonance Duration:12:01
74 Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask Duration:04:32
76 Family Photography Hot Seat Duration:12:06
77 Business Example Hot Seat Duration:15:52
78 Boudoir Photography Hot Seat Duration:16:09
79 The Best Sales Person Duration:07:45
83 Chumming the Price Waters Duration:03:57
84 Creating Want or Scarcity Duration:09:54
86 Selling Over The Phone Duration:10:59
87 Forbidden Words in Sales Duration:11:40

Lesson Info

Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool

Shortcuts are bad. These are easy for search engines to detect. Just, do this for me. Let's all be humble for a second, and just say, Google you're smarter than I am. Because honestly there is nothing that any of us can do that can trick the search engine because hundreds of software engineers are literally pouring their time into the search engines to specifically make it so we can't gain the system. So just stop, anytime somebody gives you an offer to buy links, stop, anytime somebody sends you an email to do link exchanges I know if you have a website for more than six months you will have gotten those emails. Stop don't do it, don't build at unnatural speeds, that's why we tell you don't go and dump 200 hours into SEO, Google's going to go hey he or she is just dumping time into SEO to try and get ranked, slap. I like that, slap, anybody want to step, nah I'm just kidding. Don't link to bad sites, don't link to or from. So this is called a bad link neighborhood. Isn't it funny that...

there's an SEO term for that? Avoid bad link neighborhoods. And by the way these are easy to detect oh man it's so difficult to repair, it takes years to repair these kind of damages and you can simply avoid them by just don't participate. Okay we know this, I repeated that, just remember that this is your reputation. Even if a friend asks you for a link, unless you know who that person is and you can, like if it's online in a photography community that's not good enough you need to know them in person. Okay here's a simple tool for link building strategies. Backlink watch and rank signals, what you're going to do is enter the URL and you're going to watch the awesome, and you're going to make a list of links to target. So if you put in it's going to serve you up an entire report of the backlinks going into our site. I like rank signal's a little bit better. Okay from look at this, a flare for the dramatic, techniques for using off camera flash to create. If you click that, that'll take you back to the article that we wrote about that whole creating the sun thing. So you could literally do competitive researching you could see what kind of articles that you can create, what stuff did they do that ended up getting featured or published or linked back to them. And then you get ideas of what you can do. That kind of, you got that devious look in your eyes (mumbles) what are you thinking about. I was just looking at the Christina El Moussa bikini pics under that for me online. This guy this is the funny thing about, let me tell you about networking and unpaid shoots. When I was trying to break into the fitness side of photography which now we're into, but when I was trying to get into it, at my local gym I targeted the trainers that I knew. I said hey Quinton let me take a photograph of you, this was from that test shoot. I didn't happen to know but Quinton was Tarek El Moussa's trainer, so then Quinton goes hey Tarek wants to do a fitness photo shoot. I'm like who's Tarek. And he's like he's Tarek and Christina, I'm like I don't watch TV dude. Yeah what the flop everybody knows it, apparently everybody but me knows it. So I was like oh I looked him up and like oh yeah that'd be fantastic let's go do the shoot, so I meet Tarek and we do a fitness shoot. Then that fitness shoot gets featured in probably three to 400 different publications. Okay that was unpaid as well. And I asked Chris, now here's the funny thing this is the really funny thing. Tarek did the photo shoot and I said Tarek at least I want to be able to use the images for my purposes and we're going to film behind the scenes so if I want to use it for education I can. And he's like cool that's fine, so he signed a model release then his lawyer called me the following day freaking out and his lawyer's like Tarek had no right to actually sign that document because he's in contract with the network you cannot use those images and he started threatening me. And I was like look let's just be real for one second, if I wanted to I can go out and sell these photographs for probably $500,000 right now I'm not shady and I'm not that person and you don't need to threaten me, if you don't want me to use the images fine, I won't use the images, you tell me when I should use them. And then he flipped his tune he's like oh whoa that's very different. And he goes what would you like, and I go nothing if Tarek uses the photographs then give me a linkback, I know how the industry works, the industry works this way as soon as you tell E-Online or any of these publications that they got to pay to use your image they're not going to pay unless it's an a-list celebrity that they're going to give the scoop on and then they're going to pay money for that kind of stuff. So could I try and blackmail somebody, yes. Why would I want to do that? Like think just back to your whole vision statement of being a good person and being client obsessed and loving the people that you work with. I told him that and then he flipped his switch he's like well what do you guys want. Well if it goes anywhere I'd love to just get a linkback to the site, we can do that cool. So then they put it out online and there's no cost to re-use the photos but every photograph has our watermark on it, a copyright on it and we get a linkback every time it gets used and it gets published four to times in every single publication you could possibly imagine. We need to understand as photographers there is no get rich. We all have this in our minds of that one job that we're going to get rich from that doesn't exist, build your business the right way, build it ethically, do the right things and these things happen and it happened from a networking opportunity from two unpaid shoots and Chris told me this is one of the most effective things we've done for SEO. He's like this is, we literally got 400 backlinks from four hours of time, this is where we can think more effectively and reverse the mentality of like unpaid is bad no unpaid without direction without any purpose is bad, but we can put it to really great use for our business. So we can use that to trace the competitors' footprints and we can create a plan. The big thing here is to understand you're not competing with us, you're competing with the 99% of photographers out there who don't even have ten backlinks. Does that part make sense? And that's easy to do and once you've done that, you'll be front page in a couple years for organic for main search results and your niches will pop to the top within months. Yes questions. It sounds like a huge portion of your business, your leads and that come from the website. Hmm mhm. And so that's a critical element then, website? No, critical, no, you could delete all of our SEO and we could still keep doing business 'cause we created a four prong marketing approach and actually we have even more marketing approaches now. So I don't want you to rely on any one of these means. SEO accounts for probably 30% of our revenue. Would it hurt if you cut it, sure. Could we keep doing business without it, absolutely. Because we based our model off of SEO, social media properly used, word of mouth, coordinators, vendors, venues, so you subtract any one of these things and we can still keep operating doing business. And that's why I'm so against the magic bullets out there. I am the anti magic bullet guy. Okay you write a book on how I have to have Instagram, I'm going to write a book on how I don't need your book. (audience laughs) Because Instagram's important and it's one facet to an overall marketing strategy and if you base your entire business off of it, then as soon as they switch their game up you are hosed. Cool? I don't want anybody to do that here I want you guys to build your business off of ethical means of creating marketing channels that actually work and having multiple. Questions? I do have a question, when you were showing us your one article on SLR Lounge got picked up, by like 400 or many different site. The Tarek one did, the one article probably did like 40 50 or so. Okay 40 50, so the question is is that the exact same content that's being picked up by all of those sites or you were saying to send articles to lots of places, can it be the same content or do you have to tweak it. Educational sites features publications, all of us are smart enough to know that when you rehash somebody else's content you rewrite, so we rewrite it into different words but that's not your job. Your job is to send it to them and say would you like to pick this up, if they pick it up they pick up the article and they use some of the images and they maybe link a video or something like that but they rewrite in their own words so that it's not going to be dinged. So yeah they're all smart enough to do that already. You just got to point them. So then how much unpaid work do you do? Meaning at what point would you start to charge? 'Cause it sounds like you're just giving away the work on a continuum and trying to build that strong portfolio I guess I'm just having trouble with the celebrity, the E-Online there was no compensation in it, other than the credit linkback. So I just kind of get confused on how much do I need to give away. This is a fantastic question, I love this question I want you to actually answer it yourself, based on everything that we've talked about here, when do you feel like I'm the person that's going to start charging for my work? That's a hard question. Okay so do you think I would always charge for wedding work right now? Yes. Why? Because it's revenue revenue coming in. It's my bread and butter right. I do it and I do it well and I know the results that I'm going to give and I know the experience I'm going to give and I know all of those things. But when you put me next to the (mumbles) he's a fitness photographer that's been published on more covers than any other fitness photographer. I take pretty pictures, he gets you published and he gets you online and he gets you all of these different things that come along with his service and stuff like that. And I'm in a place where I'm trying to build into this new industry of do I want to do commercial fitness work. I'm not at a place where I've established myself, I'm not in a place where I have said I know the product that I'm delivering I'm still testing, to figure out like Tarek's photo shoot, there is no strings attached, I could screw up every single shot, wouldn't matter. But if Tarek's agency paid me $20,000 to go and do the shoot, now it's no longer a test shoot, it is a paid client commission and I better deliver. I'm not foolish enough to take those on when I just want to play and I just want to play and how often do I play, I gave you the example of Joel O'Brien's how often does he play, 30 years into this business how often does he play once a week. So that should give you a good rule of thumb, once a week you should be playing, test shoots and guess what if you do that playing effectively, just like Joel O'Brien just like me, just like Mike Kelly, these test shoots, this playing changes your business. For Mike Kelly, do you all remember Mike Kelly took a picture of airplanes flying over his head with the camera on a tripod and then he went and photoshopped it into one composite image at LAX. Why because Mike loves to play and he loves photography and he loves aircraft, he just put them all together. Then this one image from a single day's of flights goes incredibly viral, it's published everywhere. Then Mike puts out a series on how it was created and that's published everywhere and then airlines and airports from other countries say, Mike we want you to create that for our airport, can you do it from this vantage point can you do this. And then the commissioning. He spent the last three years of his life doing this from playing. Now you need to play a lot you should be playing once a week but you got to get out there and do it and this is where it's one of those things, it doesn't have to be a large investment of your time, play for an hour or two. Go out for a couple of hours but that's also going to be part of keeping your passion alive for what you're doing because in those moments I'm not worried about what Tarek's agency needs I'm not worried about what the magazines want I'm just thinking of I want to create a really cool photo. Do you know how they used that photo by the way? It was Tarek's revenge body. And I was like what is revenge body, and then I looked that up and I'm like my images are being used as Tarek's revenge body. (audience laughs) But it's fine, you let people say what they want to say use it how they want to use it it's fine. But that's the point is if you are in an area where you're established where you have a product offering that you know is great and you know the consistency of what you deliver, it's been pegged out don't ever do that for free it doesn't make sense. Okay but when you're venturing into new areas and you should always be trying new things, 'cause it's going to make you better on what you do on whatever your specialty is.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Start a photography business
  • Develop the ideal business structure and business plan
  • Research competitors and the market in your area
  • Build a short-term and long-term strategy
  • Create a marketing plan and marketing materials on a budget
  • Confidently conduct an in-person or phone sales session
  • Manage small business tasks from accounting to strategy


Professional photographers aren't just people with a knack for photography and a good camera -- because launching a small business on nothing but passion is a sure-fire way to fail spectacularly. Layer business savvy, marketing know-how, professional grit and more onto your existing passion and learn how to start a photography business. Take your hobby, vision, and creativity and build a career -- whether you are looking to run a full-time business or just a side gig.

Led by a photographer that's also a certified public accountant, Pye Jirsa, the class teaches the ins and outs of launching a photography business from the ground up. Along with three full days of instruction, Pye shares a 12-week plan to get your business up and running, a business expense calculator and more inside the class workbook. Understand what gear and skills you need before you launch and how to build a portfolio by photographing family members or organizing a stylized shoot.

Stop feeling overwhelmed by the monumental task and tackle one task a day in a 12-week plan. Brainstorm names for your business and learn the different types of business licenses available. Secure a domain name and build a website that's easily searchable. Develop a marketing plan with little investment. Master in-person sales and book your first session.

Whether you want to venture out in portrait photography, commercial work or any other client-based type of photography, learn the "business" in photography business with Pye Jirsa.


  • Photographers ready to launch a business
  • New professional photographers looking to grow a young business
  • Photographers interested in working in weddings, portraits, newborns, maternity, families, seniors, engagements or commercial photography


Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa photography -- but besides running a successful photography business, he also has a background in accounting, creating the perfect blend for teaching the ins and outs of running a photography business. Along with working as a photographer and educator, Pye is also one of the founders of SLR Lounge, an online resource for photographers.

Learn from a founder of a photography business that photographs more than 300 weddings a year. Pye's Los Angeles and Orange County wedding photography business has been named among the top 100 wedding photographers by Brandsmash.


Armstrong Su

This class and materials are to the point and eye-opening on the business side of photography. Pye Jirsa is an amazing and fun teacher as well! Most photographers need more business classes offered to bring us who love to create art back to reality for a more successful business that makes a living on it's own. This course will definately get you started in the right direction and so cheap too! Great investment! armstrong outdoor tv case outdoortvcase Pye Jirsa is one of the best instructors that I have the pleasure to learn from. He and his team have given me so much more than they'll ever realize. Knowledge, wisdom, training, friendship, mentoring, inspiration, joy... I cannot thank Pye enough for changing my life for the better. I owe them more than they'll ever realize. Thank you, Pye Jirsa!!!

Angela Sanchez

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!