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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 14 of 87

S.W.O.T. Analysis

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

14. S.W.O.T. Analysis
Analyze your business environment by looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats -- or S.W.O.T. Adapt this common business practice to photography and learn how to apply the analysis to your own business launch.


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

S.W.O.T. Analysis

Alright. The S.W.O.T. Ladies, you're welcome. Gentlemen, you're welcome too. I like looking at guys. A lot of work goes into that. Funny story, we'll save it for later. (audience member laughs) Time to analyze your business environment. So now that we have this competitor listing, we have 20 of our local competitors. We have ideas, not exact, you don't need to go requesting price information and all that kinda stuff from your competitors. You don't need to do that. Just ideas. Once you do a little bit of research, you can start to guestimate, right? Now it's time to do a S.W.O.T analysis. If you guys have been in business school, I'm sure you've seen S.W.O.T.s. You guys have seen S.W.O.T. analysis. They're really straight-forward. This is nothing, you know, revolutionary. But where I want you guys to focus are on internal and strength and weaknesses. External are gonna be things that are good to know, things that are good to watch for, but a little more difficult to mitigate. Now what ...

I mean is, an internal strength, what could that be? What do you guys think your internal strength might be? Anybody? Raise. Photography, in general. The quality The quality of the photographer. The quality of product is definitely one. What else might be an internal strength? [Woman In Audience] Personality Your personality, for sure one. Your... [Woman In Audience] Styling Styling, definitely one. What else? This is all... Customer service. I love that. Customer Service. Personality. Those are two things that are very hard to copy, right? How about your ability to do content marketing and writing? Your ability to put up a personalized blogpost? And to show your personality online? And to appeal to a certain persona? Your understanding of personas? These are all strengths that you guys are gonna have and develop throughout your career and also in this class. But you have to be able to, also analyze your weaknesses. And the weaknesses I want you to look at, in other studios, there's consistency of work, there's price-point to quality mismatches. You'll see it. Okay. There are weaknesses in the way they might blog. Perhaps they don't correctly SEO and target their local areas. There's weaknesses in terms of how they instagram, maybe you don't properly curate for each of these social media platforms. I have some examples for you guys. So this is the sheet that you guys have been filling out and I've put in a little example. What we're gonna do, is you're going to choose four local, direct competitors at this point, to do a S.W.O.T. analysis. So now you have your local business environment, which is your twenty. On that document, when you put in direct or indirect, it's going to highlight the word as red or green. If it highlights it as red, those are direct competitors. That's what you watch for. So anything on that document that turns up red, I need to focus on this. Okay? That's going to be your direct. You're going to take your four direct, and we're going to do this S.W.O.T., which is workbook three. So for studio name, I listed out image quality, and I gave you guys sample, you're not going to be able to see this, but there are sample strength categories, weakness categories, you can put in more if you want to. I just gave you guys an example of what this looks like. Their image quality is good, but ours is better. There's a lack of consistency. I could tell they struggle in low-light. Okay? They're blogging and posting consistency puts them around 15-20 paid weddings per year, with their middle package at $2500, this would put their revenue around 30-50 thousand per year. Studio is owned by one person. He appears to be doing most of the work himself. Second-shooter is not generally used, it appears. So right there, you're like, oh, price-point. Oh, our packages include second-shooters. Oh, we deliver really consistent work. Just look at our blog. You see how we're kind of like developing our strategy and what we're going to be telling our clients? Okay. Under weaknesses, blogging lacks a consistent voice. Sometimes he just writes entire blog entries, other times it's just a few images here and there. There's a good opportunity here to be more personalized in what we offer online. Instagram and Facebook are not properly utilized. Facebook consistent, mostly hooks and not enough jabs. Have you guys read "Jab Jab Jab Jab?" Jab jab jab jab jab jab jab. Hook. Jab Jab Hook is a marketing book, but it basically consists of social media, by and large these days needs to be operated with a jab, not a hook. A hook is one of those marketing messages, "Buy my work!" That's a hook. "Buy this class!" That's a hook. You need: What are you thinking about when you plan your wedding? Here are five tips. That's a jab. You need: Value offerings. Have you guys ever thought of going to this location? Isn't this beautiful? That's a jab. I was just hanging out with my son last week, and I got this picture. That's a jab. Anything that's soft, value-driven, offers the viewer something, without asking for anything, is a jab. Hooks are the asks. Come do this. So many of your competitors don't understand this and it's a huge opportunity for you to simply offer value to clients through your social media presence. And you'll notice that, because when you look at their Facebook pages, you'll see that there's no engagement. Check out this! One link. I'm offering new packages this week. One link. Okay. There's a couple others in there. I'll let you guys kinda review it on your own, but you're going to put this together for the four that you have. Where are you strong? Where are you weak? Environmental opportunities and threats. If everybody, if every bride suddenly said, film is the way to go. What would happen to our business? We'd tank, right? If these external opportunities or threats happen, now generally it doesn't happen like that, the film, kind of, arena, became a major opportunity, did it not? This drive towards film and this look that everybody's so into with the portraiture, this has become an opportunity for some, and it can become a threat for others, if it actually dominates. If it actually dominates and you're not in that area, it can become an external threat. But these shifts in market are external threats, or opportunities. How about the shift to digital? Do you think photographers were ready for that one? No. Nobody saw that external threat coming. And in a few quick years, everybody's margins were eaten away and what was once this industry that was so easy and you just had to have the technical skill and a little bit of marketing and everything became: holy crap, this environment has changed completely. Does that make sense? So, I want you to be aware of it, that it can happen, but here's the problem, is that, in your first twelve weeks, what can you really do? In your first year, or two years? What you want to do is be aware of those things and be ready to transition and move, but they're not things that you need to focus on right away. Document them, understand them. Can you guys think of any other external threats or possibly opportunities? Just advancing technology and improvements. Yeah. Consistent threats. It's both right? It's like an opportunity and a threat. The fact that your iPhone, your mobile devices, can take such great photographs, has definitely become kind of a threat to a lot of these, well especially photojournalists. Specifically just photojournalists. Right? Because now everybody's got the camera. Nobody really cares about the quality of the journalist's shot, so much as the story that it tells. And newspapers started laying off people in, you know, well everybody. So that's a huge one. Okay. Are we good on that? Okay. I want to give you guys an example because I know competition can kinda seem a little bit daunting. The purpose of this is: 1) Understanding that your competitors are also your friends 2) When we analyze our competitors, what we're trying to do is reframe the competitive environment. I have an example here. This is one of my favorite books from Malcolm Gladwell. David and Goliath. Anybody read this? Okay. You'll know the story then. It's a fantastic book. Pick it up. It's great. But this is the traditional story of David and Goliath, reframed. So this is how we know this story. The Philistine champion went up against the Israelite's underdog. What happens? Well the story of David and Goliath is basically two armies meet and there's a tradition that if the armies meet, they can choose to send out a single warrior. Whoever wins that battle, the army wins the fight. That way they don't have to lose all their resources, they can save their men, they can go their separate ways and the battle is won or lost. Okay. So Goliath, we all know is this huge monster. He come forward, steps forward and "I'm the Philistine champion and I'm going to crush you." He's saying all these things like "Come to me that I might feed you, feed your flesh to the vultures or the dogs or whatever," these taunts that he's saying to David, correct? He says, "Am I dog that you come at me with sticks?" And the way that we understand this and interpret this is very much just like, oh my goodness, this guy is there and he means business. David then slays Goliath with a sling. We all know this and the underdog wins. So the way we perceive this story is in the framing that we, or David was the underdog. And that's how we tell the story to everybody is you can win the bigger fight. Go for it. You wanna fight Microsoft? You wanna fight Amazon? You wanna fight..? You can win! But then he re-frames the story with science. So he gives a new reality. I'm not going to argue whether that reality is true or not what I am gonna say is it's very interesting in terms of the way he re-frames it. He finds scientific evidence that shows that accomplished slingers, they can actually sling a bird out of the sky mid-flight. Their accuracy is impeccable, when they're good at slinging. He finds out that the rock that David used in that particular region, was heavy and lead, so it was weighted pretty well. And that with David's skills and an accomplished slinger, that equals a 35 meter per second weapon. This is roughly the ballistic equivalent of a 45mm hand gun. With the ability to be able to sling a bird out of the sky. And then he analyzes the text. "Come to me,' hand to hand. Goliath expects this hand to hand combat. He's coming forward and he has assistants helping him to come forward and he's slow. It says this, in the Bible. And then he says, come to... like you come to me with sticks, but why sticks when David just had one sling. So, more scientific research is done and they find that someone like Goliath could potentially have acromegaly, which is giantism and those that have giantism, which there have been quite a few, like Andre the giant, like all these people that are popular currently, have acromegaly and they're near-sighted, to a point where they really can't see much. And then it re-frames the whole taunt, right? Because he's not necessarily saying "come to me, that I might beat you up." He's saying like literally, come to me. I can't see what's going on in front of me. Come to me and why do you come to me with sticks? Who do you think... Why do you send this little boy? He can't see what's happening in front of him and here's the proof of it. If you grew up in that time and you knew what a sling could do, would you understand its potency and its affect? Okay. Then why would he continue to walk toward David? If you saw him pull out a sling and start swinging it, why would you continue to walk toward that sling? So Malcolm Gladwell goes out to point out, in the book, that the underdog didn't win. If you took a loaded handgun into a hand to hand fight, who would everybody here bet on? We would all bet on David. Whether this is true, I'm not going to argue that. This is like a religious, philosophical debate that I'm not even going to get into. What I want to say about this is that the re-framing of this story, completely changes the way you think about it. Does it not? It completely changes the odds. So then the rest of the book basically goes into how underdogs compete with large businesses and that's what's really fantastic about it. Because the question you're going to ask is: How will I compete against my local version of a Lin & Jirsa? And there are a number of ways that you can compete. And the way that you guys can show your individual personalities and how you interact with your clients and your blogging presence and your social media presence and all these different things that you're doing, if you re-frame and fight your fight, the one that you're good at, it's very easy to carve out a niche and to keep carving out more.

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!