3 Ways to Keep Track of Contracts & Invoices Without Losing your Mind

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You didn’t get into photography so that you could manage paperwork.

But between all the invoicing and contracts that you manage for your various shoots, it’s easy to feel like you spend a majority of your day managing those tedious details! So how do you keep your desk and brain clear of the clutter from this pile of paperwork? Here are three tips for streamlining your workload, so you can get out from behind your desk, and back behind the camera.

I. Put everything online.

Contracts and invoices can all be done through online systems or services, making it quick and easy for your client to sign and return things to you. Plus, down the road, it’s easy to find all the contracts and invoices under each client’s online folder!

II. Automate as much as possible.

Invoices should be sent out automatically online through your studio management software. If clients pay by credit card, you …

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One Photographer’s Journey from Part-Time to Full-Time

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When I started my part-time professional photography career, in the days of film photography (2001), I didn’t have higher aspirations to become a full-time photographer. I already had a full-time job in the corporate world, so I was perfectly content photographing on the side, especially since photography income was not paying my bills.

There’s a very different mindset for someone who does something on the side (and makes extra income) versus someone who does photography full-time. It’s not just the obvious things, like more expenses, etc. I think it’s also the way you think about photography – not just as a hobby, but as a business. As a full-time photographer, all the decisions you make affect what you do as a photographer.

The thing is, as a part-time photographer, I wasn’t seeking work. It just came to me. I was working for another studio, assisting with wedding and commercial jobs as well …

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The Fantasy vs. Reality of Becoming a Professional Photographer

the-fantasy-vs-reality-of-becoming-a-professional-photographer

When we fall in love with photography, we go on an amazing journey of self-discovery and creative expression. Some of us begin to imagine a career as a professional photographer, filled with days of capturing glorious sunsets in remote locations across the globe, or attending glamorous parties and living the high life, all the while getting paid to do what we love. What a dream!

And it can be, absolutely. But for most of us, it takes many years of hard work, long hours, little pay and lots of business and marketing savvy in order to truly realize the dream.

One of the main reasons I started Photomint and decided to write Photography Business Secrets: The Savvy Photographer’s Guide to Sales, Marketing, and More is to counteract all the “feel-happy” business advice out there that highlights the glamour and omits the reality. There is a lot of fantasy concepts floating around, and …

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Why Every Pro Photographer Should Have A Valued Business Advisor On Their Team

Professional photographers love having a camera in their hands. They also love the idea that they can make a living doing what they love. But most professional photographers do not have an accounting or law degree. That’s why photographers need a business pro on their team. Being a great photographer is challenging, but being a great photographer who’s running a profitable, healthy business can be daunting! And here’s how a business pro can help photographers:

What’s the Best Business Structure?

There are many items to consider when growing a business. The first to consider is what type of business entity should be set up. Should you be a sole-proprietor? What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? What are the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating? If you incorporate, should you file as a C-Corporation or an S- Corporation?

The right advisors can answer these questions and help it make sense to you.

A sole-proprietorship is …

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Do’s and Don’ts of Copyright

David Esquire laughs when I call him a copyright evangelist. It’s a knowing, admitting laugh. “I am a big fan of not only protecting my work, but encouraging photographers and other artists to respect each other’s work and not steal it,” says the intense, passionate California-based wedding and portrait photographer.

He knows there’s plenty of copyright violators outside the photo community. There are plenty of companies and clients that overstep licenses, assuming images posted online are free. But he’s looking inward, too, at what we photographers do. In fact, we weaken the moral high ground more than we should. Rather than running roughshod over fellow creatives’ copyright, we need to take a stand to protect copyright.

Are we doing what’s right for copyright?

Esquire’s Copyright Do’s and Don’ts:

DO stick up for your rights, by carefully reviewing proposed contracts to ensure you’re not giving away ownership of the copyright. License whatever you wish (as …

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The Pro Photographer’s Retreat and Planning Guide

**Great news! We’re hard at work updating this guide and will be re-releasing it shortly. In the meantime, check out The Photo Life Social Media Guide!**

Happy Holidays TPL friends!

Can you believe 2012 is quickly coming to a close? How’d your business fare? Whether it’s been a fantastic year of growth or a frustrating year of decline, now is the time to reflect on 2012 and look ahead to identify ways that you can make 2013 your best year yet.

Consider running away from it all? Actually, that’s one of the smartest things you can do to improve your business: schedule a retreat.

Make plans to get away (even if you don’t go far) and take time for focused and productive business planning.

Use this Field guide as your resource for evaluating and planning in four major areas of your business:

What one thing are you doing differently …

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Employees or Contractors? Hiring for your Photography Business

For photography business owners (and any small business owner), having people on your team is a natural part of growing your business. Whether you have other photographers shooting with you, people editing your images, or someone handling administrative work, it’s likely that at some point you’ll pay someone else to do work for you.

The biggest question, then, is whether these people are employees or contractors. There are two primary considerations you should be aware of before deciding.

Tax implications based on your decision. How this decision affects your working relationship with team members.

Hiring an employee means withholding state and federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare taxes. In most situations, you also pay unemployment taxes too (there are some exceptions).

Hiring an employee means paperwork! You’ll need a W-2 and an I-9 completed for each employee, records of their wages and hours, documentation that you’re complying with federal labor regulations, and the …

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What to do When Your Photography Clients Want to Negotiate

We’re living in the “day of the deal.” Many photography clients are eager to negotiate.

Even high-end brides are looking for a “good deal.” Everyone wants to save a buck. It’s human nature; we feel good knowing we’re smart with our money.

As small business owners, we shy away from negotiations because we assume it means someone doesn’t value what we do, or that we could lose out on a lot of profit. Sometimes, that’s not the case. It may simply be a client who wants to make sure they get the best bang for their buck, or they just like to negotiate in general.

If you do your homework, you won’t lose out financially.

First, decide whether or not you’re willing to negotiate.

There are reasons why you might not want to negotiate. If you are fully booked, or have more work than you can handle or want, then it’s a great time to say, “I’m sorry, these rates are …

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Taking the Financial Plunge, Going Full-Time

Taking the Plunge to Full Time Photographer

It usually starts with an inner voice. You might work a 9-5 to pay the bills; but with each passing day, that little voice gets louder and louder… telling you that photography just has to be a bigger part of your life. Taking the plunge and diving full-time into photography can be really exciting. But as creative artists, the idea of managing finances and getting a new business off the ground can be completely nerve-wracking. Here are 5 helpful hints for managing the finances of your new business.

1. Initial investments. One of the most important steps in getting started with a full-time photography business is knowing what some of your initial investments will need to be. Not only does this include things like the initial purchase of photo equipment, but other business-related investments such as the cost of establishing a legal business identity, opening a business bank account, securing …

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Money Management Made Easy

money management made easy for photographers

You’ve just received a check in the mail- YAY!  You run to your bank to deposit it into your business account (or you see that Pictage has automatically deposited it there) and now you feel like you’ve justified your next big equipment purchase, right?  Think again.

If you’re really taking care of your business and your personal life, you’ll divide that money up before you start spending it.  To make it super simple, take half of that check you’ve deposited into your business account and transfer it immediately into your personal account (assuming you’re a sole-proprieter business structure with no employees).  This quick & easy method helps you make sure that you’re bringing home the bacon while still taking care of business.  By maintaining a 50/50 split on your revenue, you’ll gain a clear understanding of when you’re dipping into your personal income to pay for a …

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