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13 Lessons I learned Running a Photography Business

January 17, 2023

Filed in: Education

Pop the champagne because this month Lydia Gillis Photography is celebrating 13 years in business. For today’s blog post I thought it was only fitting to share 13 lessons I have learned running a photography business.

13 lessons I learned running a photography business | Colorado Portrait Photographer

13 lessons I learned running a photography business.

1. Entrepreneurship can be very lonely.

You don’t have to do this alone. Find your people, your tribe. It’s important to surround yourself with like minded people. A community that not only is going to provide a safe place for you but a place where you can be heard, seen, and encouraged.

2. Learn how to price for profit.

Don’t set your prices based on guesswork. Do the homework! Before you price your services and or product, first determine the cost of running your business. Calculate cost of goods for products sold. Cost of time and labor. Add your profit margin. This will dictate your take home income.

3. Pay yourself first!

Working with other photographers, it surprised me how many photographers don’t have a separate bank account to pay themselves. I’m not judging. I use to be one of them. I just thought it was only me and my lack of knowledge of running a profitable business. If you’ve been round for while, you have heard me talk about the book “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz. This book has been crucial on how I run my business and has set me up for financial success. If you can’t afford to pay yourself first, then you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. Being an entrepreneur is about being able to operate your business with the least resources possible, but with awesome results.

4. Have a business plan.

Having a business plan helps with your vision, goals, and strategies. It gives you a road map for where you want to go and identifies the steps you need to get there. It also helps track your business progress.

5. Invest in yourself.

Yes, there are a lot of free resources out there to get you started but they wont get you to the finish line. One of the best things I have done for myself is to continue to learn and grow my education. Here is the thing, if you’re not willing to invest in yourself, how can you ask someone to trust and invest in you?

6. Networking is a must!

No man is an island! In order for any of us to achieve professional success we need to get out there and be seen. Networking is all about building long term relationships. It’s about building trust and marketing yourself. Make networking a priority.

7. There will always be resistance.

Resisting resistance is to resist growth. Learn to work with it. You’ve heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Challenging things are the most rewarding and hard work pays off because that’s where growth happens.

8. Failure is inevitable.

Success is incomplete without failure. You must fail to succeed. So give yourself permission to fail. Embrace it. Celebrate it.

9. Create systems and workflows.

Workflows help streamline and automate repeatable business tasks, minimizing room for errors and increasing overall efficiency. It improves the quality of service you provide to your customer.

10. Always use a contract.

A contract protects you and your client. It manages expectations between you and the client and provides terms and details of the agreement.

11. Have boundaries.

Setting boundaries has been one of the hardest and difficult parts of running my business. Truth be told it’s a work in progress. Setting boundaries for your business is so important not only for the success of your business but also sets expectations for your clients.

12. Be the CEO or employee you want to hire.

How you show up to works sets the tone for productivity. Evaluate your work ethics. Get rid of bad habits and implement new habits. Bring the best of you to work. Be disciplined and remove any distractions.

13. Believe in yourself.

If you don’t who else will? Self belief is the formula to success. Give yourself grace. Everything you need is already in you, you just have to do the work. And remember, you can do this. You’re a big deal!

Have a question, don’t hesitate to reach out. 


LYDIA GILLIS PHOTOGRAPHY is Denver based and Destination Wedding Photographer, Seniors and Personal Branding Photography

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