Often, the most difficult thing I see for individuals in our industry is making that scary leap from being an amateur photographer to a legitimate professional. When you do make that leap it is quite visible as your actions become very different than those who treat their business more casually. Below is a list of behaviors I have noticed over the years from those who treat their business more like a hobby.
1. You do not charge enough to sustain yourself full-time.
2. You often photograph friends and aquaintances for free or at no profit.
3. You think of yourself as a photographer first and a business owner second.
4. You do not have firm scheduled work hours with strong boundaries that clearly separate your business and personal life.
5. You do not respect your copyright neither control the quality of your final images by giving your customers images on a CD.
6. Your net take home pay is not at least 1/3 of your gross income.
7. You are not 100% aware of your margins.
8. You justify why you can’t really make it as a legitimate business (this usually involves blaming cheap photographers, the economy, how things are different in your area or the changing industry) instead of making it happen.
9. You focus on how many clients you see, not how much money you make.
10. You talk more about your average order than you average margin.
11. You do not have a command of your P/T Ratio (see my last article on that subject here)
12. You Spend more money on photography equipment than on education.
13. When you do take classes they are usually about how to take better pictures. You rarely invest in how to run your business smarter.
14. You do not have a studio or office to see clients nor do you have a goal to have one.
15. You do not pay yourself or take a salary
16. You hang out mainly with other photographers instead of other business owners.
17. You spend time in photography forums with other photographers who love photography but are casual about their business.
18. You spend the money you make from photography, instead of investing it back into the business.
19. You delay taking actions on your business until you feel inspired (remember, Pro’s do it with a headache).