A Photography Franchise vs. “Going It Alone” for Starting a Photography Business

If you’ve ever thought about starting your own photography business, I’m willing to bet that you’ve done a little investigating regarding how to get started. One of the best things about photography is that it’s so accessible, and that means that just about anyone can start their own photography business. Of course, there’s a lot involved in starting a business, and there are strategies for doing so that are better than others.

Two popular alternatives are opting to buy into a photography franchise and just starting your own business on your own. The question is, which method is right for you?

Building a Business with a Franchise

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to start a photography business is to go the franchise route. The great thing about a franchise is that a lot of the hard work is already done for you. For example, PortraitEFX, one of the fastest growing photography franchises, offers highly specialized training so you can get comfortable shooting profitable, high-volume photos like school or sports league pictures, dance studio pictures, and so forth.

Franchises have a proven business model, so there’s no trial-and-error or wasted time. That means that right from the start, you have the professional support you need to build your business on a solid foundation of photography skills and management know-how. What’s more, by working with a franchise, you get the benefit of having a team of photography business experts to help you along the way. Franchises like PortraitEFX have management teams that are comprised of highly experienced photographers with the business acumen to build and market a successful brand. That’s a great resource for you as you build your business.

Speaking of branding, when you opt to buy into a franchise, there’s no worry about logos, websites, marketing, and so forth. You get to use an already established brand with name recognition and credibility to build your customer base in your area. That translates into more customers and faster!

PortraitEFX even allows you to co-brand your unique business name with theirs to provide you with the best combination of local identity with national branding.

That means you can draw support from a nationwide network, or, in the case of PortraitEFX, an international network of photography businesses to help you get your foot in the door and establish a thriving photography business locally.

But that’s not all…

Going with a franchise means you not only get the support up front to get your business going, but you also get ongoing support to help your business grow. Whether it’s ongoing education to stay on top of the latest best practices in photography, operational assistance for your business operation, specialized software to help with photography and business tasks, or something in between, photography franchises are there to act as a safety net and as a guide for you so you have a better shot at success.

Better still, franchises like PortraitEFX give you plenty of options regarding products and services. You can choose to offer school pictures and senior portraits, family portrait sessions for church directories, take photos of sports teams, photograph preschool-aged children, and provide portrait, wedding, and special event photography too.

Best yet, franchises like PortraitEFX often have specialized workflow processes that can significantly reduce time-consuming post-production work, giving you more time for yourself.

Another words, a franchise helps set you up for success because the groundwork for building a business and sustaining it is already in place. That means you can focus more on the creative elements of photography and worry less about the developing the business.

The Biggest Detriment: A franchise means you’re buying into an existing system, so you have to invest money to become a franchisee and continue to pay certain fees to keep your franchise. If you want total creative freedom and control, a franchise might not be for you.

The Biggest Benefit: In terms of ease of setup, getting brand recognition, and having up-front and ongoing support for your business, it’s tough to beat a photography franchise like PortraitEFX.

Going it Alone

For a lot of photographers, the dream is to build something of their own, to be their own boss and have complete freedom regarding how the business is run and the type of photography that’s undertaken. The great thing about going it alone is that you have all that control – there’s no one to tell you what to do or how to do it. What’s more, going it alone means you can grow something very organically. Without the restraints of working for someone else or following someone else’s guidelines, going it alone might be the least expensive way to get your photography business started.

This is a particularly interesting strategy for someone that’s already got the photography chops and a bit of business know-how. Armed with the right kind of training and information, you might just be able to make a go of it as a photographer working on their own.

Of course, that freedom comes at a price. By going it alone, you’re not just on the hook for all the day-to-day tasks of being a photographer and business owner, but you’re also on the hook for all the expenses. That means that if something goes wrong, it can go VERY wrong and you might find yourself in a tough situation. You pay all the costs of making mistakes out of your pocket. The point is that you assume all the risk when you go it alone, especially if you aren’t much of a business person to begin with.

For me, that’s probably the biggest point to make here – we photographers are a creative bunch, and sometimes, creative folks aren’t all that great at detail-oriented, right-brained sorts of tasks that are so common in business.

Now, that doesn’t mean that all creative types are terrible businesspeople, nor does it mean that all businesspeople aren’t creative. The point is that even if you have the photography know-how, you still need to have a solid understanding of business and marketing to make a “go it alone” approach to building a business actually work.

The Biggest Detriment: Taking a go it alone approach means you assume every bit of risk, from the financial obligations that come with building a business to tackling the day-to-day activities of running a business.

The Biggest Benefit: You have total and complete creative freedom and can do whatever you want with your business.

In the end, if I were to start a photography business, I’d opt for the franchise option. It’s just a simpler way to get things started and minimizes the risks involved in becoming a photographer.

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