How much does it cost to start your own photography business

This one will be short since it will vary for so many people.  I want to address the cost of starting your own photography business.  The truth is, no one can tell you exactly what it will cost you to start up.  There are so many variables that will affect your startup cost.  Here are a few things for you to research before you estimate your cost to start your business.  

Where do you live?

        This will effect your cost.  Each state will have different fees and rules to start your own business.  I live near Missoula, Montana.  The City of Missoula even charges me annually to operate in their city limits.  I have to submit to background checks if I want the option to enter peoples homes to conduct my business.  Since I am a mobile service I had to pay for all that.  It is around $120 per year I think.  That is on top of getting my state license to operate my business.  Sounds crazy that a city might impose those rules on you. 

       Will you be able to get a lot of business year round?  If you live near the equator then you might be able to have steady business year round.  If you live in an area that has harsh winter conditions you can expect to see slower business in those frigid winter months.  People do not typically photograph well when they can't feel their face.  You may want to wait until late winter or early spring to get your license in this case.  

Do you already own gear?

       Owning some gear may greatly reduce your start up cost.  You can always sell your equipment to your business to recoup some of the money you have already spent out of your own pocket to make this dream happen.  I do not recommend that anyone buys tons of gear without having some serious savings.  You will need to be extremely comfortable with all your gear before you venture out on a shoot.  You may want to consider just investing in a few small lighting tools and use what you have until you start making money.  Technique will really be what produces high quality work.  The high end equipment can come later.  

Are you tech savvy?  

       People will prey on you if you are not very good with the internet and computers.   You will recieve phone calls from scam companies everywhere saying that you have to pay them to survive online.  You need their art store front website for $2,000 a year.  Ah no you don't.  You need to put that work in for yourself and build something that will work for you.  Websites will take a lot of work to build and optimize.  If you are not willing to learn a lot of this yourself be prepared to pay dearly for it. 


        You will need insurance for all that equipment and accident protection.  If one of your lighting stands blows over in the wind and hits a customer it might cost you your business.  I will say that situations like this are what prompted me to create an LLC.  An LLC at least will protect my personal assets.  


       Watch out for this one.  There are free ways to market yourself online.  They take time and will require a lot of work.  There are also a lot of scams out their that will charge your a few thousand dollars just to pay google a couple hundred dollars for you.  


        As you can see the amount of effort you are willing to put in will greatly affect the cost for you to start your own photography business.  The choices you make with all the pressure of pesky marketing companies will make you or break you.  I have used Facebook and Instagram advertisements with some success.  I am finding that my best website traffic though has been coming from referrals for quality content that I have been writing.  Again that elbow grease and determination will save you a lot of money.  You are the only one that can figure out your cost to start and survive your first year.  I personally played it safe with my business.  I work full time as an Avionics Technician during the week and run this business on evenings and weekends.