30 "to do" steps before starting your photography business

It is easier than ever before to start a photography business. With the availability and relatively low price of DSLR cameras combined with the fact that taking photos (mostly with our phones) has become an intricate part of our everyday lives, the barriers for entry into the "business of photography" are relatively low.

The process of being interested in photography, buying a camera, learning the ins and outs of exposure, composition and subject matter is different for every single photographer out there. There is no one "right way" to go about any of it. We all have different journeys and not all of those journeys lead into businesses. 

This list is meant essentially for those who are learning photography or have already been doing photography for a while and are interested in turning it into an actual business that is profitable. 

I distinctly remember when I first started in my own journey and scoured the internet for resources on how to actually "start" this thing that was to be Cinnamon Wolfe Photography. I never really found an all inclusive resource with helpful tips all in one place.

That is the problem this list is meant to solve! 



You don't necessarily have to do ALL of these before you actually CALL yourself a photography business. Some of these are important to do beforehand and some of them can be done within the first year of your business. 

****They also don't have to be done in any particular order. They are just things you should be conscious of as you move forward into your business.. 

I will say that some of these really SHOULD be done at least before you start accepting money or charging people money for your services. I think it's an important distinction to make when we get into the muddy waters of hobby vs. business. To help understand where I am coming from here is how I categorize things in my mind to help make sense of all this: 


If you photograph for free or just for fun (no money is changing hands) your photography is a hobby


If you photograph on the side or part time but you charge people money you really have transitioned into business although some will still refer to it as a "hobby". 


If you photograph for a living, you have totally transitioned out of hobby and have a business. 

Is it just me or is the word HOBBY looking really weird about now?

So what sorts of things need to happen before or during your transition into an actual business?

Here are the first 15 steps that you need to happen either before you start charging people money or need to be done within the first 6mo of your business. 

1 | Register for an EIN number

2 | Register with your state/city

3 | Get set up to pay sales tax appropriately

4 | Open a business checking account

5 |  Get Insurance

6 | Understand exposure

7 | Create a website

8 | make sure you have a contract - Need one? Here you go!

9 | Formulate a business Plan

10 | Image Delivery - how will you deliver images? - I recommend ShootProof!

11 | Learn and understand Lightroom

12 | Know what you are doing with lighting

13 | Offer discounted portfolio sessions for friends and family for practice

14 | Decide on your business name and get a logo

15 | Learn how to use Back button focus

16 | Create a business facebook page

17 | Create a business instagram

18 | Invoice - how will you take payment? You should check out Honeybook (and here’s 50% off your first year!)

19 | Decide what products you will sell

20 | Create a file system for images and back up plan

Want the remaining 10 steps +

a free E-Book with detailed info on all 30 steps?

Grab my "30 steps to start your photography business" E-Book for FREE!