NIBA Photography Side Hustle Tips

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Eight Tactical Tips to Start Your Photography Side Hustle

Let me set the scene. I've been taking pictures for over five years. Approximately 20K images later, I decided to officially pursue my passion into a business. While people are figuring out their side hustles, I am positioning my hobby as my future retirement job. The goal is to position myself and showcase my collection of work as a traveling photographer who caters to online entrepreneurs. 

It's only been six months, but I've landed three clients, a summer intern, and some expansion projects that I am excited to share with my readers closer to their launch. I am still learning and growing from each experience.

Today, I want to share my journey and lessons. My goal is to inspire those of you thinking of making the leap in 2017. Here are ten tactical and actionable tips I used to position myself and my work. 

1. Offer Freebies

Year-end freebies are very popular way of giving back at the end of the calendar year. At the end of 2016, I started with my own circle of friends. Offer a freebie or piggyback off one being offered by another photographer. This was my first studio experience. I learned how to connect with complete strangers immediately and it was my crash course to studio lighting. Post your freebie on social media, offering a two-hour session. To learn more, stay tuned to a future post.


2. Build Portfolio

Building your portfolio is a must. No one is going to give you the time of day or trust your work without a website, portfolio, and testimonials. A portfolio showcases your talent and eye behind the camera. Additionally, it allows people to connect to your work. 

Tweetable - A website, portfolio, and testimonials are key to getting started in any business. 

3. Photographer Conferences or Meetups

I use meetups and conferences to network and meet photographers of different skill levels. It's also another portfolio building opportunity for build your social media and website content. 

The 2017 NYC Experience with Brown Girls with a Camera in Brooklyn, NY allowed me to network, information share, force to be in pressure situation with different lighting and no flash, and build my portfolio.

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2017 BGWAC

NYC Experience


4. Gear

This is the most intimidating part of this industry. It's not only an expensive hobby, but even as a side hustle. When you're getting started it's important not to take any shortcuts when it comes to having the right gear. Don't take chances with paying clients. Experiment on your own time with camera gear until you find the right fit.  There are many camera rental gear sites, such as,, and, and, and where you can rent gear before you make the investment. 

5. Mentor

No brainer. This is the first step to take before you invest your time and money. Mentors are always flattered and need the help. I use my mentor as a sounding board, especially when it comes to gear.

Chip Dizard

Taught me about capturing visual experiences


6. Testimonials

It's easy to forget especially in the beginning. Whether it's a paying or non-paying client, a testimonial is your social proof. Chart your journey with your clients from day one. Tell a story. 

7. Outsource

I realized quick that I don't like retouching photos. It's very time consuming. Not only is finding the right partner key, but a retoucher who doesn't alter the look and feels of your photos. 

8. Build Website

You're new. I get it. Even if it's a one-pager, do it. Let people know you're open for business. Look at other photographer's websites to understand the industry best practices.

9. Know Your Boundaries

This is your signature collection. Know your limits early. There is a big difference between average and above average. For example, I will not work with a client unless their makeup is professionally done and we have to have a planning session. Clients need to understand studio makeup shows better in front of the camera. 

10. Take the Bull By the Horn

I am going to try this tactic next month. I will let you know if it works or not. I am attending a women's blogger conference next month. I will be bringing my camera and taking photos. The goal here is to gain some clients. Stay tuned on my strategy in a future post. 

Are you looking to start your photography side hustle in 2017? Post your questions or comments below. Even if it's something really really small don't hesitate to ask.  

We're now approaching June and you've got six months to grow you're idea or passion into a business. Stick with me for more tips and advice.