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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 13 of 87

Competitor Research

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

13. Competitor Research
What are your competitors doing? Professional photographers shouldn't burn up all their time comparing businesses, but researching competitors is an important part of the process. Learn who's really your competitor, develop a research strategy, and understand what to look for.


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 13:12 2 Common Myths & Unknown Truths 11:42 3 The Road Ahead 13:03 4 Find Your Passion 06:06 5 The Lin & Jirsa Journey 13:54 6 Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners? 03:51 7 Stop Wasting Time & Money 06:07 8 Your 12 Week Roadmap 04:33
9 Great Plans Still Fail 06:01 10 Strategy Vs. Planning 04:16 11 Mind Mapping 07:25 12 Select a Focus 14:16 13 Competitor Research 09:34 14 S.W.O.T. Analysis 13:54 15 Strategy & Long Term Goals 03:50 16 Values, Vision & Mission 27:49 17 Effectively Managing Your Time 15:05 18 Artistic Development 07:30 19 Create Your Plan 13:12 20 What's Your Product 10:51 21 Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences 11:44 22 Quick Break for Econ 101 16:31 23 Your Target Market & Brand Message 21:25 24 What's in a Name 09:20 25 Your Client 'Why' 05:43 26 Crafting the Why Experience 24:17 27 Document the Client Experience 08:29 28 Business Administration Basics 27:03 29 Book Keeping Management 06:51 30 Create the Logo & Branding 07:04 31 Portfolio Design 15:11 32 Design Your Services & Packages 18:51 33 Pricing Fears & Myths 08:46 34 Three Pricing Methods 25:39 35 Package Pricing Psychology & Design 06:15 36 Psychology of Numbers 07:29 37 Pricing Q&A 23:51 38 Grass Roots Marketing 09:36 39 The Empty Party 07:03 40 Friends & Family Test Shoots 16:28 41 Join Groups 04:32 42 Second Shooting Etiquette 07:44 43 The Listing & Classified Hustle 14:10 44 Make Instagram Simple 13:55 45 Your Automated Pinterest Plan 08:01 46 Facebook Because You Must 07:37 47 Giveaway & Styled Shoots 12:17 48 Content Marketing & SEO 08:12 49 The Monster: SEO 07:26 50 Selecting Your Keywords 05:45 51 Testing Your Keywords 07:53 52 Grouping Main & Niche Goals 12:39 53 Your Content Road Map 11:47 54 Content Marketing Q&A 10:45 55 Inspiration to Keep Working 07:45 56 How to Craft Your Content 15:03 57 Internal Linking Basics 05:30 58 Back Link Building Basics 04:55 59 Link Value Factos 14:38 60 Measuring Link Value 04:24 61 Link Building Strategy & Plan 06:10 62 Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing 06:45 63 Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments 03:11 64 Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool 14:44 65 What is Sales? Show Me! 12:58 66 Your First Massive Failure 05:17 67 The Sales Process 07:31 68 Your Second Massive Failure 05:23 69 Understand Buyer Psychology 10:00 70 Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust 15:14 71 Step 1: Identify Need or Want 15:39 72 Cognitive Dissonance 12:01 73 Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution 14:21 74 Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask 04:32 75 Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns 06:13 76 Family Photography Hot Seat 12:06 77 Business Example Hot Seat 15:52 78 Boudoir Photography Hot Seat 16:09 79 The Best Sales Person 07:45 80 Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency 06:56 81 Always Positive, Always Affirming 11:55 82 The Second Money & Dual Process 07:39 83 Chumming the Price Waters 03:57 84 Creating Want or Scarcity 09:54 85 Timeless Advice on Being Likable 11:53 86 Selling Over The Phone 10:59 87 Forbidden Words in Sales 11:40

Lesson Info

Competitor Research

Let's dive in to competitor research. This is the fun stuff. This is one of those things where when it comes to competitor research, I want you guys to do it once and forget about it for a few months. Then revisit it, okay. And then, forget about it. Eventually, once a year is fine. What I don't want you to do is to follow every one of your competitors and be like, oh my gosh, every single day, they're posting this and they're doing this. You're gonna burn up all of your time doing that social media comparison thing again. Okay, this is very different. We're gonna start with that search that we did. Our location that we wanna compete it, type of photography that we're competing within. Who's in that area? Then, we're gonna identify direct versus indirect competitors. So a direct competitor, well, let's say, an indirect competitor. An indirect competitor is... You can get pretty, kind of crazy with this. You could say a wedding photography studio and a wedding photography studio, they b...

oth offer the same thing, right. Therefore, they are direct competitors. Not necessarily. What if one wedding photography studio shoots specifically hybrid film? One wedding photography studio shoots specifically HDR dramatic kind of images. Are they now marketing to the same client? I'm hoping you guys are saying no, right. Because the client that sees all light and airy filmic over here, probably doesn't like the stuff on this side. They're not the same people that are going, oh yeah, I'm thinking about film and I'm also thinking about dramatic. No, if they're comparing film, they're comparing you to other film photographers. Does that make sense? So it's the same need, but it's not the same product. Whereas if you're in pet photography, I'm gonna venture to bet that there's not like a filmic style of pet photography and a modern style, or there might be, but they're probably not delineated nearly as much as they are inside of wedding photography. So inside of that, if you're a pet photographer and she's a pet photographer, you're both direct competitors. Does that make sense? Wedding photography is interesting as a study, because it's one of those areas where clients know just enough to have like, informed opinions of what they like. Right, they think about it enough, they look at all these bridal magazines, they look at all this stuff. Generally, if you think about the perception of a client persona going to pet photography, the bride would've looked through tons of different magazines and would've identified a style. But the person that loves their dog and just wants a photograph of their dog, do you think that they've looked through tons of dog magazines and dog-style and dog this and? I mean, they might. But most likely, most of them just love their dog and they want good pictures of their dog. So that's where we get to these are not direct competitors. Same product, same need, well, we can say same need, different product, basically. Okay, so we're gonna search your disciplinary sub-niche. Document the results, expand the keywords, and repeat. We wanna come up with a list, okay. So for example, the examples I gave. This area, wedding photography. Wedding photographer in this area. Document. Or fine art, newborn photographer. Fine art newborn photographer in Kansas City, whatever it might be. Your location under that. This comes to workbook number two. Let me go grab. Okay. Workbook number two is the competitor analysis. I have, actually this is the SWOT analysis. Ha ha. I'm gonna put this with you for one second. What do you guys wanna know about your competition? I'm gonna write it down. I know you're all thinking it. You got one thing in your heads. Give it to me. How much? How much. Price, that's always the number one, right? Is this attainable? Yeah, usually. Usually, there's a starting price. Usually, there's a, you know, investments begin at, you know, like, type thing on a site. That's general information that you can find. Okay, so you can get a starting point. And we can kind of do a guesstimation from there. So imagine this. We have that forecasting book, right? If you know that a competitor starts at $2,500, let's round it up and say that on average, they sell 3,000. Let's then look at their blog and see how many posts they have in a year that are genuine weddings. Count them up. Go plug it into number of weddings and your forecast will now tell you a really good estimation of what they're making and what their revenues are. Like, it'll be kind of scary accurate, like within 10%. That gives you idea of who you're competing against. Price. What's next? Quality? Quality. That's a huge one. You wanna know, like, is your work, where does it stand to theirs, right? Give it a rating, like, give it a number, like, is it better, is it on par, is it? But be very objective in that, because you're gonna shoot yourself in the foot if you're subjectively looking at this and like, yeah, their work is crap. No, there's a lot of people that create really great work out there. You got a question. The hours and availability. Like, do they get to do a 24 hours? Will they go into evening? Maybe the product offering. Hours, anything you want. So workbook two is created for you guys and it has a laid-out list. And I've put our names at the top, so you can kind of see how to populate it. It includes quality, it includes, like, kind of consistency. Because this is gonna give you ideas. If you start looking through their blog and you notice that their posts and their quality are very inconsistent, and their portfolio's really strong, then you can, ooh, identify a weakness, right? This starts to piece together how we're gonna actually compete. Okay, these are the primaries. Price, quality, the products that they offer. Those are the primaries of that thing. You're also gonna document their website, where they are in terms of their location in relation to you. Okay. I want you all to populate 20. And then, from that point, we're gonna continue to the SWOT analysis. Don't spend more than five to 10 minutes on each competitor. It's very easy to get stuck in this and just browse and browse and browse and browse. You don't need to. Five to 10 minutes. It should take you two to three hours to fill out all 20. Is it starting to click right now why we're choosing a focus? How would you do this for everybody? Okay. Any questions on competition? Judy. So as a boudoir photographer, a lot of competitors and even I don't put too many pictures of my clients. So how do you do a competitor analysis if you don't have access to as much information? That's gonna be a little bit tricky, because you're right. Like, in boudoir, you're not posting every single client that you are shooting. What I would say is look to groups. Local, like, Facebook groups, are generally really informative. Now, here's the thing that I wanna say about competition. We all compete against each other, right? This is the same industry. But I've always taught and shown that there are plenty of room for everybody. And more and more groups have that same mindset. So if you join a local boudoir photography group and you simply ask, what is a good starting range for this, or you simply ask the question, you'll get 20 to 30 people giving you information. If you asked, how many shoots a year do you guys expect? You'd get some pretty good information. Because this industry as a whole is turning a lot. 10 years ago, when we entered, everyone held on to these secrets very closely. And I think, over time, everyone's realized that you know what, there's enough room for everybody and everybody's offering a very different product and service, and we all help each other out. One studio helps second shoot for another one, one studio takes over when one can't. You need to develop this network and we're gonna talk about that later on, where you understand that, I mean, in Orange County, we have a lot of competition. But do you know how many times I can name friends that have competing studios that have stepped in for us when we need help? That's happened often. We're completely booked out, someone called in sick on a certain day, someone steps in to help us out. And we do the same thing. We wanna help out too. I went out to, Trevor's one of my good friends, Trevor Daley. And he had a wedding out in... It's out, some destination wedding, oh, think I forgot the name. Anyway, he said, I need a second shooter. I got the weekend free, I'll come. Okay. Like, cool. So understand that there's, like, this give-and-take relationship and that's very much information that you can find in these groups. Although it might not be as easily available online.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Start a photography business
  • Develop the ideal business structure and business plan
  • Research competitors and the market in your area
  • Build a short-term and long-term strategy
  • Create a marketing plan and marketing materials on a budget
  • Confidently conduct an in-person or phone sales session
  • Manage small business tasks from accounting to strategy


Professional photographers aren't just people with a knack for photography and a good camera -- because launching a small business on nothing but passion is a sure-fire way to fail spectacularly. Layer business savvy, marketing know-how, professional grit and more onto your existing passion and learn how to start a photography business. Take your hobby, vision, and creativity and build a career -- whether you are looking to run a full-time business or just a side gig.

Led by a photographer that's also a certified public accountant, Pye Jirsa, the class teaches the ins and outs of launching a photography business from the ground up. Along with three full days of instruction, Pye shares a 12-week plan to get your business up and running, a business expense calculator and more inside the class workbook. Understand what gear and skills you need before you launch and how to build a portfolio by photographing family members or organizing a stylized shoot.

Stop feeling overwhelmed by the monumental task and tackle one task a day in a 12-week plan. Brainstorm names for your business and learn the different types of business licenses available. Secure a domain name and build a website that's easily searchable. Develop a marketing plan with little investment. Master in-person sales and book your first session.

Whether you want to venture out in portrait photography, commercial work or any other client-based type of photography, learn the "business" in photography business with Pye Jirsa.


  • Photographers ready to launch a business
  • New professional photographers looking to grow a young business
  • Photographers interested in working in weddings, portraits, newborns, maternity, families, seniors, engagements or commercial photography


Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa photography -- but besides running a successful photography business, he also has a background in accounting, creating the perfect blend for teaching the ins and outs of running a photography business. Along with working as a photographer and educator, Pye is also one of the founders of SLR Lounge, an online resource for photographers.

Learn from a founder of a photography business that photographs more than 300 weddings a year. Pye's Los Angeles and Orange County wedding photography business has been named among the top 100 wedding photographers by Brandsmash.


Armstrong Su

This class and materials are to the point and eye-opening on the business side of photography. Pye Jirsa is an amazing and fun teacher as well! Most photographers need more business classes offered to bring us who love to create art back to reality for a more successful business that makes a living on it's own. This course will definately get you started in the right direction and so cheap too! Great investment! armstrong outdoor tv case outdoortvcase Pye Jirsa is one of the best instructors that I have the pleasure to learn from. He and his team have given me so much more than they'll ever realize. Knowledge, wisdom, training, friendship, mentoring, inspiration, joy... I cannot thank Pye enough for changing my life for the better. I owe them more than they'll ever realize. Thank you, Pye Jirsa!!!

Angela Sanchez

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!