There is still such a stigma attached to the concept of being a hobby photographer or amateur even in this day and age. I think it’s why we see 100,000 new photographers enter the industry EVERY YEAR. You read that right-every year, 100,000 brave souls enter the photographic industry to pursue their new passion. And every year, 60% of those photographers close their businesses. That’s right: 60% of photographers don’t make it past the first year.
It gets worse. By the time the 2nd year is over, a whopping 85% of photographers have gone out of business.
6 out of 7 PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESSES WILL FAIL WITHIN 2 YEARS
1 out of 7 will make it past that 2 year mark.
If after the 2 year mark photography businesses act like regular businesses statistic wise, only 44% will make it past the 4 year mark.
So let’s look at some numbers
- 100,000 start
- 2 years later, only 15% remain: 15,000
- 4 years later, 44% of 15,000 are left: 6,600
So what does all that mean? I thought this was about the difference between being a hobby photographer or a pro?
I believe it is. I suspect that one of the reasons most photographers fail in the first year is that they were actually running a hobby that earns a little money rather than a business.
I think that the photographers that make it past the marks are most likely people who have dedicated themselves not only to their craft but also to the running of a legitimate business and all that entails.
No one likes to hear it but business is hard work. And most photographers don’t get into this industry to run a business which is 80% of your time as a creative pro who owns a business. A mere 20% is spent doing the part we all love-photography.
I think it’s time we get rid of the stigma that is attached to the concept of being a hobby or amateur photographer. There is NOTHING wrong with pursing your passion, pouring all your free time into it, giving your time and talent away for free as long as you’re willing to understand and admit that photography is your hobby-not your business.
In fact, I’d say it’s pretty awesome to be an amateur photographer. No pressure. No demanding clients. You can shoot what you like, when you like. You can give stuff away and feel good about it. You can work a day job and get paid so that you can pursue the things you really, truly love. You also don’t have to worry about self employment tax, sales tax, liability insurance, backup gear, marketing, sales, networking, accounting or any of the other business stuff attached with running a business.
So if you love photography and want to pour every free moment into it, go ahead! Don’t feel like you MUST turn it into a business. There is so much FREEDOM in pursing photography as simply a hobby.
I think the biggest travesty is that often, people fall in love with photography and then people tell them they should have a business. So they start charging and shooting like crazy. And next thing you know, they’re burned out. They begin to hate the thing they fell in love with in the first place. And that is the saddest part of so many people becoming photographers-many walk away forever and we lose their unique point of view, passion and creativity. Something we all would be the better for.
And yes, it’s true: there are MANY amateur photographers that could knock the socks off a pro.