If you have some creative photography chops, you might want to open your own online business. You’re not alone in wanting to turn your creative outlet into a money-making venture. Photography is a popular profession and hobby right now—and that’s the problem. As camera gear has become more affordable and consumer-friendly, and almost every smartphone now features a great camera, everyone’s a photographer.  

But, that doesn’t mean you should toss your dreams of owning a photography business aside. It just means you may have to work a little harder to set yourself apart from the flock of amateur shooters. 

To help you find your photography foothold, we asked three professional photographers who started their own businesses to share their tips for success. 

The planning stages 

Before you buy a camera and create a website, you’ll want to do a little prep work. 

  1. Write a photography business plan

For starters, wedding and event photographer Peggy Farren says you need a business plan. Any serious entrepreneur will tell you that you need to organize your thoughts on paper. This detailed document serves as your roadmap, describing what your business is and how it will be profitable. It breaks down things like cash flow, expenses, ownership, and competition. 

Photography is one of the most competitive businesses out there,” Farren says. “You need to be a very good business person to make a decent living. You’ll get there much more quickly if you start out right.” 

Creating a business plan may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you have the right tools. Check out this free, downloadable sample photography business plan.  

  1. Assess your photography business startup costs

As part of your business planning process, you’ll need to assess your startup costs. What are the essentials that you’ll need before you can really launch your business? 

Camera equipment alone can cost upwards of $10,000, Farren says. You’ll also need business licenses, insurance, a website, and accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero. 

What about a studio?  

Do you plan to start with a dedicated studio space or work out of your home? If you need office space, you’ll need to investigate commercial rental properties and figure that monthly cost, along with the cost of utilities, into your financial plan. 

  1. Secure startup funds

If you have enough money in your bank account to start your business you may not need to borrow money, but many entrepreneurs need assistance. Many people who are starting a business for the first time end up asking family or friends for help, or keeping their day job until their business is self-sustaining.  

Whether you ask friends and family for financial assistance or apply for a bank loan, you’ll need a business plan in online photography in place that lays out how you’ll spend the funds and when or how you’ll pay your lenders back.