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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 9 of 87

Great Plans Still Fail

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

9. Great Plans Still Fail
Strategies won't protect you from failing, but those failures can still take you somewhere. And you're not alone -- in this lesson, Pye shares some of his past failures.


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

Great Plans Still Fail

Great let's get started with strategy and planning. Now we are in this section of our roadmap before we can actually know what to do, what competitiveness and analyze. All that stuff we needed to find our focus, and I wanna talk about that for just a little bit. So why do we need a strategy and a plan? Because great plans, they still fail, constantly. And I've by the way selected images that kind of correspond to the topic that we're learning. This is a family shoot and maternity session where well like every single one of them your plan fails, and the kids go off playing with their little toys and doing their thing. But there's kind of a beauty in these imperfect moments, right? There's a beauty in the fact that great plans still fail as well because it leads you somewhere, and each of those failures take you somewhere. Don't feel like that's a bad thing. I'm gonna show you. Jivejive, this was actually what we quit Ernst and Young for. This was a web startup that we had funding for, c...

lose to a million dollars, and it got pulled right when the recession started. So we quit Ernst and Young, three weeks later we had our team ready and in place, funding was gone, investors said they didn't wanna do it any more, and we were just left kind of holding our website in our hands, and like what do we do now? Okay, and the recession was starting if you guys remember that time. So that failed. Haha we have more. Meebi tag, Indieworks Corps, Echozen, there's a lot of comedy in this, Frooshi, Undfind, so we ended up, you know you own like some of these registered names. So IW actually became our parent holding company for all of our... Cause we had it already, it was a failed business, we had all the legal work done. Same thing with Undfined. We started as a creative studio for web design, and then when that... We were like we're not gonna do that anymore. Then we're like let's make bags for photography. So that became Undfined. So like all these things just... We reused the names. It's fine. Meebi tag was actually a great idea. This was a way to actually tag products within YouTube videos when YouTube was just coming up. Another idea that was on the verge of funding that we lost. These are all failures. Frooshie was probably my favorite failure because it tasted the best. It was really good. So we invented Frooshie. I kid you not nobody else had this. This was back in college. This was like our very first startup. We got $100,000 from the city. We developed Frooshie. I was in charge of all the beautiful design assets you see and the logos and that kind of stuff, and eventually the company tanked. They hired the wrong person to manage it, and it went down. But again one of my startups that failed, and Frooshie was really delicious. Have you guys ever fruit sushi? It sounds terrible, but it's really good. We had this problem in every market. (audience laughing) Fruit sushi sounds terrible, but it's really good. It was. It was like this coconut milk rice and you roll fruits inside of it and it had like a sugary strawberry drizzle on it. It was really delicious. There was no seaweed or fish involved, which was problematic because it was fruit sushi and people expected that. Who'd a thunk? You know? We had taste test ratings that put it up there with ice cream. Just saying. That's a big deal. Undfined, this was our... We had photography bags we made for quite a while. It was actually a profitable venture. We still cut it, because it just wasn't comparable to all of our other stuff. My point is if you look on our server this is underscore zero zero killed projects. Boom, these are all the things that we have started and at one point either failed or stopped. The best of all of them was our boy band. (speaker laughing) I kid you not. (audience laughing) You think it's funny, we actually had a contract in Taiwan as a boy band. The only problem was when we got the deal, we got a record deal, when we got the deal it was expense only for the first year, and this is Eric, Eric was graduating from dental school, we're all CPAs, and we're like I think we're about 10 years past this boy band startup phase. Maybe we should move on. But I love this picture because I'm like the only brown man in a sea of Chinese, Asian, Taiwanese boys. These are all brothers, and I'm like in the background. like hiding with my hat, don't look at me. We knew our market. Our market was Taiwan. That's what we're aiming for. We got it, but we eventually left it. Our music is still online, hint hint, just in case anybody... (audience laughing) Our track record. Would you bet on these odds? 23 of 25 of our businesses we've either failed or exited. I'm hoping that helps to relieve you a little bit, because that everyone of those failures led to us doing the next thing better. So it's gonna be this process that you're gonna through. Two of the 25 were successful. Well successful enough that we kept. That's Lin and Jirsa and that's SLR Lounge. On average, we currently start a new project every other year. So that's kind of like our pace of starting things, and now it's Line and Roots. And it's okay to start something and put a pause on it. Say I'm going to start this, you know what I'm not quit ready yet, and let's go back and focus on this thing and put a pause on it. That's totally fine too. If the majority of great plans fail though, are you willing to have no plan, because every one of the things that you just saw had full business plans. Meebi tag had a 20 page write-up documenting out the exact plan of what it was, how much funding we needed, who were gonna be the developers, everything. Every one of those had plans.

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!