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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 12 of 87

Select a Focus

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

12. Select a Focus
Develop a focus to make the task of launching a business less monumental -- and launch a business that's better poised to compete. In this lesson, learn the importance of developing a focus then narrow down the focus of your business.


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

Select a Focus

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a friend come up to me, 'cause once you have a successful business, all your friends will say, "I have this great idea" okay? There have been so many times where that idea has been something as grand as this. Pye, I got this idea. We're gonna be the next Amazon. This is that big of an idea. Pye, I've got this idea. We're gonna compete with Netflix. If we can just get 1% of their market share, like, as soon as you hear those words, it's just like, "Slow down, dude, relax for one second." And if I were to tell you, "Go and be the next Amazon." This is literally something that every first time entrepreneur will say. Something that broad. It doesn't have to be Amazon but something that broad. This is where we go to. Where do you start? Amazon does retail, groceries, entertainment, music, home automation, web services, fulfillment, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, oh yeah, they started with the books. What of those things do you wanna compete on? Because a...

ny one of those things that you choose is a monumental task to try and take on. Amazon, they started with books, right? That's a niche within a niche. I'm gonna do retail, no. We're just gonna sell books inside of retail, okay? And now web services is one of their largest revenue generating areas. You know what web services are? Server hosting, Cloud storage, server management, like all sorts of web based services that they basically had to build for themselves and they said, "Well, now that we're good at this we might as well lease and sell it out to other people." It's impossible to do this. That's what we need to realize. Now, we're going and thinking on a much smaller scale. And I know the argument here is, yeah but I can take better pictures than the 99%. I know. I know all of us can take really great pictures, okay? I love taking pictures. I mean, I've done head shots, I've done boudoir, engagement, fashion, bridal, maternity. But that's not the point. It's not about how great the pictures are that you're taking. It's about the fact that you're competing with people that are 100% focused in a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche. That's how ridiculous it is. Like, you have people that are going down from photography to one niche of portraits down to a sub niche of dogs, just dogs. You're competing with them if you wanna do all of it, right? Look at this. You've got people that go from, I'm gonna do photography down to weddings down to film or dramatic style weddings, right? There are studios that brand entirely around classic film looking images. And there are studios that brand entirely around dramatic images. How do you possibly compete with both these from, let's just say from a quality side, just starting with a quality side. They're 100% focused on it, you've got five different things that you're doing. How do you catch up? Now, how do you compete against their branding and identity, their 100% focused marketing efforts, their pricing and efficiency and the fact that they do it better than you because that's all they focus on so they're going to do it more cost effectively than you? Is this becoming like kind of, is that making sense in terms of choosing a focus? It's a terrifying thing to choose a focus because all of us are like, what if I do choose something I don't like? What if I pigeonhole myself? What if... What are the questions you guys have when choosing a focus? The doubts, the worries? Joe. My competition. Your competition? Yeah, who am I gonna be up against? Especially if it's off the wall focus? Yeah, so, Joe, if you said, "I'm gonna do head shots, weddings, engagements and family portraits." Might not make it out of the head shop. Might not make it out of the head shots. But now you've identified four specialties that you're competing across. Oh, man, when we start getting into competitor analysis, are you gonna spend the time to put together competitor analyses for four different focuses? And then are you gonna market and create SEO for four different focuses and four different websites and four... That's the task that you're taking on. Now, it's possible to start with one, say head shots, and then after you've got that wheel spinning and it's easy to maintain, you drop a person in place, they run it, you spin up the next wheel and go. Question. Thank you, Joe. So, what about, for example, I do boudoir but then I have different target market. I have the mother-to-be, the bride-to-be and then the woman who just take some time for herself. Is it too much or should I just have one target in my niche? So Judy that is a great question. So, I would say that within your niche, you've identified your niche. What that sounds like now are product offerings. So, it sounds like you focused in on boudoir and the products that you have are for brides-to-be, therefore people that wanna take out time for themselves and this, that's great. There's nothing wrong with that. If you go too far down, you might have a hard time getting enough clients, right? But I think even any of those subproducts you could still focus 100% on and still get enough clients. Okay. That's a really good question, though. Okay. So, it's time to choose. Wedding, engagement, family, newborn, maternity, head shots, senior, boudoir, I'm not gonna list them all out but any direct client service area, exact same process, okay? So, this is where I want you guys to actually pause and mind map. I want you guys to think of the different genres that you have. Now, in class, you can do it if we have questions but I'm gonna let you guys do that in your free time. So, write down, mind map potential focuses. And what you're gonna do with each of these branches is you're gonna write out a focus and you're gonna write out it is to be that person. We know that all the business and admin applies to every one of them. So instead write down the types of people that you're gonna be interacting with, the types of subjects you're gonna be shooting, what it is going to be like shooting that, what is it going to be like dealing with a baby that's crying nonstop and trying to sooth that baby? Like these are all things that you can free think of, right? You don't have to be a newborn photographer to guess that the newborn's probably gonna pee and poop on a lot of your materials, right? That's just a given. So, if you have a hard time with that, then you probably cross that off your list and what you're gonna do is after you get this mind map vision out of what this environment looks like you're gonna start crossing things off that don't fit your personality. Cool? Is this making sense so far? From that point, you can ask your friends about their experiences but I think you guys can put together enough to at least narrow it down to, like, maybe a couple of areas and then start asking people about focus. So, that's what the discipline lifestyle mind map is. Here's what we're gonna research now. This is gonna start going into competitor analysis. This is where we say the principles remain, nothing changes. So, we're gonna research, Google search wedding photography, wedding photographer, wedding photographer in my area. So, for example, wedding photographer in Orange County, wedding photographer in San Francisco, wedding photographer in New York. You can even identify a sub genre, fine art wedding photography, journalistic wedding photography, but I want you to look in your specific location and start identifying who's around you and this is the beauty of it, so, change the topic to newborn, change it to maternity, change it to pet photography, change it to head shots, any of these are fine. It's the same process. And what we're gonna get at is we're gonna a list of local competition, okay? Questions as far as the different disciplines go? Because now we're gonna take that research and go into competitor analysis. Do we have any questions right now in terms of focuses? Yes. How might you adjust that for someone who's interested in commercial clients? How would you kinda make some changes to that so you can still do all that mind mapping but have something to work from? Great question. So, regarding commercial clients, honestly everything stays very similar except for your grass roots marketing because grass roots marketing for commercial clients, let's say, Nissan. It wasn't Nissan that actually hired me to do that shoot, it was their agency that they hired to hire me. Does that make sense? So, you're not marketing to end consumers, you're marketing basically to agencies which means that the types of grass roots marketing that you're doing is more along the lines of putting together brochures, handouts, trying to network and meet with them. You're not targeting those individuals but as far as your website, it's identical. We still need to go through SEO and content creation and content marketing. We still need to identify. We still need to look at competitors. We still need to all these things the same. It's simply the marketing aspect that shifts because now you're not targeting the end consumer, you're targeting an in between. Oh, yes, go for it. Okay, so for me, I don't know know how unique my genre is but I incorporate large format film photography with digital. So I kinda do like a digital session and then a bonus. And then I develop the film. But that's where I am struggling to market to that particular client Yeah. That sees value in that. 'Cause it really is one of a kind. It is, you're talking about hybrid, right? So, that's basically hybrid studios. (sighs) That's challenging. Why? Because how many clients know the term hyrbid? That's a very specialized industry term, right? So, you can't necessarily when it comes to SEO and content marketing if you type in, you know, what is your location? Woodinville. Okay, if you type in Woodinville hybrid wedding photography, that's a term that I guarantee only photographers are gonna be looking at. Yeah. So you have to, you're gonna have to take that product and you have to market to a broader area and a broader kind of mindset. So, like wedding photography in that locale. Okay. And then you're gonna have to educate. Yeah, right now I just have Woodinville photographer (laughs) for my SEO. And we're gonna talk about that 'cause Woodinville photographer is a very broad term. Right. So, what's gonna happen is you're gonna burn up a lot of your time because the people that are searching that could be looking for head shots, newborns, photography, like pet photography, they could be looking for anything, any type of photographer in that area and you end up burning a lot of your time answering questions like, hey do you shoot this? Hey, do you shoot that? Do you do this? So, we're gonna talk about focusing down enough where you're not gonna burn up time. Perfect, thank you. And I've got, oh, I'm gonna do one from online. Of course, yes. And then we'll throw it back over. Okay, so this is from Jessica K. who has a question about focus. She says, "What if I have an end focus that I anticipate might take longer to get to. For example, outdoor adventure and travel. But I know that I have a focus for now, for example lifestyle, to sustain my business to get to that end focus that's slightly more aspirational. Would that work? Yeah, so the only trick to this is that people are gonna buy what you show. So, if you're intending to build this business where you eventually wanna say, shoot filmic weddings but right now you feel like the market is more broad doing modern style. You're gonna put up so much content in the meanwhile that everybody that comes to you is gonna expect that and when you try to switch it over it's not gonna happen. So, if the genres fit into like, whether we're talking about lifestyle versus travel, that sounds like a commercial kind of endeavor and it sounds like two different products within that. And then you need to be showing, so, if you wanna start both those things up at the same time and you're not getting clients for the travel side, you need to being test shoots and things on your own to market that and to show it just as much as the other thing on your blog and on your site and everything so that it looks like they're both kinda poppin'. [Woman at computer] Great, thank you. Yes, well I think it was kind of like the same direction. What if the emphasis is in nature and travel photography, for example. So, we're gonna get to identifying your target client. But that's the first question I would ask, who is it that you're selling to? [Nature Photographer] I'm still working on that. So, that's gonna be the first step. And the beauty about this course I'm not gonna tell any of you exactly what you should do at any point in time. What I'm gonna give you is a framework to figuring it out. Because if I told you how to market to your client, it would only work for 10 of you that have that exact client. But, if I told you how to identify who your target market is by branding or creating a brand persona of who you're marketing to, then you can put together that persona and you can say, "This is the person I'm looking to get. Oh, this is the place that that person spends time. This is where I need to market to get to that person."

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!