People are constantly teaching themselves new skills or learning new hobbies. Why not take advantage of one of your passions and start teaching what you know to others? Creating a photography workshop business is an excellent way to do it. 

This guide will explain how to start a photography workshop business, including:

  • What is a photography workshop business?
  • Why do you want to start a photography workshop business?
  • Do you have the right experience?
  • What should you include in your photography workshop?
  • What equipment will you need?
  • How do you recognise your costs
  • How should you build your following?

What is a photography workshop business?

A photography workshop business is a course that people can pay for, which teaches them the knowledge and skills to become a photographer. The finer details of the business can vary and depend on you, the business owner. 

Some questions you may wish to consider are, for example, whether classes will be taught online or in-person? Teaching these courses online offers the benefits of potentially higher class numbers and reusing resources. On the other hand, an in-person course can help you provide a better service with a greater understanding of your students’ work. 

Why do you want to start a photography workshop business?

Just like with any other type of business, you need to figure out why you want to start a photography workshop business. Understanding your motivations before you begin can help you push through the difficult patches. 

Money alone isn’t always the best motivator, so think about what else you could gain from it. Would teaching others allow you to focus on and improve certain areas in your own photography? Perhaps you enjoy the hobby and simply want to encourage others to get into it too. 

If you have long-term goals, it can be helpful to write them down and refer back to them. Nobody else needs to see them, but they can keep you motivated when you feel bored or burnt out.

Do you have the right experience?

Providing a photography workshop is something that requires specific knowledge about camera functions, lighting, and photo editing, amongst other things. If you’ve completed a degree or course in photography, you should already have this knowledge. 

On the other hand, if your photography experience is self-taught, you may find greater success if you have relevant achievements and accolades. There are many different photography awards (such as the Sony World Photography Awards) which you can enter. 

Depending on your placement and the awards you enter, you can win prizes, certificates, and exposure. These awards can then be featured on your website, acting as evidence of your knowledge and abilities. 

What should you include in your photography workshop?

What you include in your photography workshop should depend on the type, of course, you wish to provide. For example, will you gear your business towards complete beginners or offer a more advanced class? 

Your syllabus should match the type of workshop you want to deliver. If you want to help new photographers get involved in nature photography, then your workshop could focus on those elements. 

Itinerary

Before you go public with your photography workshop, you need to know exactly what you’ll teach in your classes. When you first start out, having a clearly defined schedule and lesson plan can help you stay on track. As you get more experienced, you may feel more confident and become more flexible with your lesson plan. 

You should also have a public itinerary. This itinerary doesn’t need to be a full script on everything you plan to teach, just an overview of the main points. Listing each day’s events as bullet points, for example, is perhaps the easiest way of doing this. 

Below is an example one-day itinerary for nature photography: 

  • 08:30 Arrival.
  • 09:00 – 12:00 Managing external and natural lighting.
  • 12:00 – 13:00 Lunch.
  • 13:00 – 15:00 Different settings and their effects.
  • 15:00 – 17:00 Guide to post-production.
  • 17:00 – 18:00 Publishing your work.

You can adjust this example as you see fit, but remember to leave enough time to cover the course material and for students to shoot their images. You may also want to speak to each student individually to make sure they understand and practice properly. 

Once you’ve written out your public itinerary, you can make it available for potential students to view. You can tempt more people to sign up for your class if they know what you’re going to cover ahead of time. 

Sign-up

It might sound obvious, but without a way for students to sign up, you won’t have a class to teach. Perhaps the most user-friendly way to do this is by creating a sign-up page on your website

Your workshop sign-up page should list all the necessary information about your workshop, including:

  • How it’ll be hosted (online or in-person)
  • Where it’ll be hosted (website or address)
  • Time and date of the next workshop
  • An overview of each session’s focus (a copy of the itinerary is fine)
  • What each student needs to bring (camera, laptop, etc)
  • The price of the workshop
  • Your contact information (in case potential students have any questions)

You should also request some basic information from your students, such as:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Contact information (email and phone number)
  • Their online portfolio (if applicable)

It can also be a good idea to require payment during sign-up. You could request the full amount or only a deposit. 

Digital resources

If you host your workshop online, you may need to create your own digital resources. These resources can help illustrate your point and make it easier for your students to learn. One potential resource you could create is an image editing walkthrough, so students can refer back if they’re struggling. 

You might also want to make these resources permanently available to your students. Depending on how much you decide to charge for your workshop, it could provide a better experience to allow students to download and keep these resources. 

Your business will still own any resources that you create and share with your students as intellectual property. This means that nobody else is legally allowed to share or distribute your work, without your express permission — even if you provide them for free. 

Class sizes

For online workshops, the size of your class isn’t much of an issue. On the other hand, if you intend to run your workshops in person, then you’ll need to consider how many students you can reasonably instruct at once.

The quality of your workshops is an important factor, so spending enough time with each student can help them feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. The more you speak to your students, the more tuition they feel like they’re getting. 

Of course, speaking to each student individually and answering their questions can quickly take up a lot of time. For in-person classes, sticking to 10 students should allow you enough time to provide suitable tuition. 

If you’re running your workshop online only, then your class size has a little leeway depending on how much available time you can spend with individual students.

What equipment will you need?

If you’re already an experienced photographer, you should already have most of the equipment you need. What you may not have, is the tools to help run your business. Some aspects you may want to consider are:

  • Website/online portfolio
  • Video conferencing software (such as Google Meets, or Zoom)
  • Photography studio
  • Spare cameras (for students to use)
  • Various lenses
  • Lighting rigs

Recognise your costs

At the end of the day, you’re running a business to make money. In order to make the most money possible, you need to know how much you’re spending and where you’re spending it. Take into account things like:

  • Time spent
  • Travel
  • Website hosting
  • Models, wardrobe, hair and makeup (if you’re providing an in-person workshop)
  • Advertising

You should be aware of exactly how much it costs your business to provide a workshop. You can then divide this cost by your estimated class size to know your costs per student. If keeping track of costs is something you struggle with, then using an accounting software service like Countingup can be incredibly useful. 

The Countingup app combines a business current account with accountancy software, so you’ll always have a live cash flow overview. 

How should you build your following?

Since you’ll be considered a teacher, you need to be able to show that you know what you’re talking about. One way to do this is to grow an online presence centred around photography. While a large following does guarantee your expertise, it does make you and your course more trustworthy.

Blogging

You may be wondering why blogging is important for your business? The truth is that running a blog is an excellent way to showcase your expertise. Since each post you upload should highlight your knowledge or skills, your blog will develop into a portfolio of your abilities.  

If you already have an online portfolio of your images, you can even combine the two to improve your traction. For instance, you could write a blog post about the trials of capturing a particular image, how you overcame them, and link directly to the image. 

If you have users that regularly check your blog, they may be tempted to pay for your service.

One benefit of blogging that you might not have considered is that it improves your business’ SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The better your SEO ranking, the higher up on Google your website will show. Ranking higher up on Google is extremely important for online businesses, because it can have a major positive impact on your website traffic. 

When your website traffic is high, that means more people are visiting your site and reading what you have to say. This also means that more people will see the available workshops, allowing you to take more students. 

Social media

An alternative method of promoting your new photography workshop business is on social media. With multiple social media platforms to choose from, you may wonder which ones you should pick. Some of the best for improving your exposure and showcasing your skills are:

Facebook is a great all-round social media, because it lets you upload and post a variety of content. The content you upload could be photos you’ve taken, video tutorials on how to edit images in a certain way, or snippets of your blog. You could even rotate your type of content to try and keep it engaging. 

As you may know, Instagram focuses on the visual aspects of your content more than the written. You can utilise this to show how proper editing can improve an image, with before and after images on the same post. By proving your abilities online, you may attract more interest in your workshop.

Like Instagram, TikTok focuses on the visual but allows you to upload video clips of up to three minutes. This short video-based format means you can offer small tips and tricks on how viewers can improve their photography. Your social content would then act as a taster for your workshop, tempting more users to sign up.

Using accounting software to manage your workshop’s finances

If you’re focused on providing the best workshop possible for your clients, then you probably won’t want to spend a lot of time worrying about your finances. Using accounting software, like the Countingup app, with photography-focused bookkeeping tips can help you save a lot of time. 

The Countingup app is capable of generating, sending, and filing personalised invoices. When you need to invoice a client for the workshop, for example, simply visit the accounting tab, navigate to invoices, add a new invoice, and fill out the information.

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