Episode 111:  The First Hire As You Grow Your Photography Business

Grow Your Photography Business


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

If you’re feeling like you can’t work another minute more and your to-do list is never-ending, it might be time to hire.

Hiring is always one of the first things people talk to me about when they’re coming to me for help.

Some people don’t feel like they are great at marketing, so they want to hire.

Some do not like the selling aspect, the book-work, etc.

I get it because I have been there, too.

But, I realized that for all of the pieces to work and for you to have a profitable photography business, you have to understand what goes into that profit and how all of the pieces of the system work.

Let’s start with who we hire first.

I know the thought is to go hire a full-time, highly paid person, but your little business probably can’t afford that yet.

Just like a baby, you’ve got to nurture your business.

The first person I actually hired, I had to fire two weeks later because I realized I had to pay her and she didn’t produce anything.

That’s when I realized I need to take a different approach.

Bringing on a person isn’t an easy answer 

Hiring is not always a solution because with every solution, there’s often a new problem.

Now I had a person sitting there that I had to keep busy and I didn’t even know what to tell her to do, because I didn’t know yet.

So I took a breath and decided to do things little by little.

My first hire was very part-time, and some of it was even trade.

Think about how you could trade out something. F

or example, maybe you have a high school senior that you’ve done their senior portraits and they couldn’t quite afford all the things that they wanted.

You could trade out that album and for the summer they could hold a reflector for you.

I found little ways to trade things out early on. 

Get profitably priced FIRST 

As you learn pricing, part of your pricing has to account for the person who is doing the editing and retouching.

That’s a really great first place to outsource, if you’re profitably priced.

Most people want to hire before they know if they’re profitably priced and then all of their profits are going to that hired person.

The first thing you want to do is get profitably priced and then you can start hiring part-time people for outsourcing, editing, retouching, even getting a part-time person to come and help you with day-to-day workflow.

That’s going to be your first hire.

As I grew, I was ready for a full-time person.

That was my next hire.

And really it was my first official hire.

She started right before my grand opening of my second studio.

I was at a point where I was working all the time.

I was able to hire so I could get a bunch of my time back and do what I do best, which is marketing, selling, and photographing.

Those are the three places that a photographer makes money in their business.

Not workflow, filling out paperwork, editing and retouching.

I knew someone else could do that so that I could go bring in more business.

The key to that is that I needed to understand all the parts of the job so that I could make sure that this person could do what I needed them to do.

That was my second hire, my first full-time employee.

For me, I love the numbers.

The answers are always in the numbers.

Should I hire, have a studio, or can I expand?

The answers are in the numbers. 

For your third potential hire, you can consider having that full-time person who’s at a higher level than maybe someone who’s just doing office work.

This is a person who can be involved in your business.

They could help you run some of the marketing activities, do sales presentations, and become more valuable to you.

But here’s the thing, you would be committing to a full-time salary for them, which is a really big deal.

The rule of thumb here is 10% of your gross sales is what you can justify for that full-time person.

So for example, if you’re grossing $300,000 during the year, you have $30,000 that you can pay this employee. 

You need to know that you can predictably grow your business.

Hopefully you can see that yes, employees can be great.

And yet instead of you just getting more time freed up, you’re also going to need to spend your time mentoring, training, overseeing, making systems so that your employee can follow those systems.

Before you hire, you have to have it figured out. 

The biggest thing I would say to you, if you’re wanting to hire, is that you want to be able to know that you can bring in the income you need to bring in.

If you’re brand new and you’ve had seven clients ever, you’re not ready to hire. 

Learn how to price your business, how to sell, how to market, and learn those core skills so that when you get overwhelmed, you’re still making money.

Then you can bring in a person to help you.

Take a breath, and keep working on your business.

The First Hire As You Grow Your Photography Business
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