In this video, Skip Cohen gives practical advice on how to decide if you should be a full-time or part-time photographer.

Full time vs. part time from Running a Photography Business: Pricing Your Work by Skip Cohen

Benefits of being a part-time photographer

Your day job has consistency — you’re really good at it. Many of you do enjoy your day job and giving it up could create a hole, at least in your heart, maybe even in your pocketbook, and there’s some consistency there that might make taking a look at your day job and hanging onto it and then continuing to build your photographic skill set, so that your part-time job also becomes a revenue producer.

Most important of all, just like toddlers, you’ve got to walk before you can run. And when you start to look at your full-time job versus part-time, one huge benefit is health and insurance benefits. Your health and insurance right now are paid and if you don’t realize it, and this number’s probably gone up going back from my corporate days, typically, your benefits account for 18 to 20% of your base salary. So, if you want to know what the value is of your vacation time, your health insurance, your life insurance, if you’ve got it, and some of the other benefits that you get with the company you work for, take your total gross salary and add on 20% more.

Now, letting go of that and going off on your own as a full-time photographer puts the responsibility to pay for those benefits on you, and especially if you’ve got a family at home, and right now they’re being covered by all of your health and insurance benefits through your company, that’s a big consideration to think about when you’re talking about the revenue you need to make. Another benefit is the fact that you’re getting regular paychecks. That’s a huge benefit.

When you should go full-time

You shouldn’t go full-time until you can’t afford not to!

Skip says, the time to look at going full-time as a photographer is when your revenue and your client base is getting so strong part-time that you’re actually having to turn business down and step away from the business in order to maintain your day job and your lifestyle and time with your family. When it gets to that point where your part-time business has become such a strong foundation, that’s the time when you really want to consider going full-time.

Don’t fall into a common trap

Over and over again Skip says he has seen photographers jump into it too early. They wind up struggling and worried about revenue because they didn’t build up enough business or enough of a reputation and recognition within their community on the front-end as a professional photographer before making the leap. Suddenly they have to depend on that skill set to build their business, their profitability, and the revenue stream they need to be able to maintain their lifestyle.