Have you considered how much time you need to be profitable?

Let’s do some fun math today….shall we??

When business planning, one of the biggest factors that is overlooked is the investment of time in growing and maintaining a business.

Biggest frustration we hear from pretty much every photographer we talk to…?

Not enough time.

So that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.

What is the realistic amount of time that you should expect to spend on your business if you want to produce more than minimum wage?

Minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 per hour or about $15K per year which would be considered an amateur photographer’s income

Professional wages of a photographer is averaging at $15.00 per hour (see statistics here) or $31K per year.

(Crazy numbers right??)

So since we are business owners, we don’t get to look at sales as income….so we have to do extra math to figure out how much we have to SELL to get those wages from our business.

Here’s some lovely numbers for you to cringe over:

Amateuer: $15K per year
$15K Taxes, CPA, Bookkeeping
$7,500 Cost of goods
$7,500 Overhead (equipment, internet, website, etc)
$1,500 Marketing
$2,500 savings (emergency funds)
$1,000 further education (creative/business)

Professional: $31K

$37,200 Taxes, bookkeeping, & CPA
$18,600 Cost of goods
$12,400 Overhead
$6200 Marketing
$6200 Savings
$6200 Education
$6200 Outsourcing

(When I said this was fun math, I lied. Sorry.)

What this means is that an amateur who is earning $500 average per client needs to be photographing 100 clients per year to meet their necessary income goals of minimum wage. That’s 2 sessions per week.

A professional photographer who is earning an average of $1500 per client needs to be photographing 82 clients per year… 1.5 sessions- 2 sessions per week.

Stay with me….okay?

If you are shooting 2 sessions per week that’s going to be an average of

  • 3 hours of client time (email communication, shooting, travel to session, phone time, etc.)
  • 2 hours of editing per session
  • 1 hour of uploading gallery online or 2 hours in-person sales session
  • 1-2 hours of product order & production

= minimum of 8 hours per client or 16 hours per week for both that are client focused.

That’s a part time job right there….and that’s only a fraction of what needs to be done to make the money, honey.

Then there’s the other part time job which is what actually brings in the clients = marketing (blogging, newsletters, networking, social media, etc), education, financial management, emails, bookkeeping, etc.

If you spent

  • 2 hours a week blogging
  • 1 hour a week doing your newsletter
  • 3 hours a week on social media strategic (30 minutes a day) marketing
  • 2 hours a week networking with local & online businesses
  • 3 hours a week of business education time (reading books, reading blogs, taking courses, workshops, etc)
  • 1 hour a week of bookkeeping

….you now have a full time 40 hour a week job. And those numbers are very limited numbers to be investing in the growth part of your business that keeps the 2 clients per week coming in.

If you are investing these hours with children at home in the background….double those hours it should take for every distraction and interruption.

We love our babies….but they are productivity killers when doing business whether you work from home or you are working in an office building. Children aren’t allowed to be in office spaces for a good reason…..bless their souls.

If you skimp on these hours….you’ll have 0 client sessions per week….but then you’ll also have more time on your hands. (Silver lining?!)

So all of this to say.

If you want to make minimum wage with your photography business. It takes TIME to make that income…..about 30-40 hours per week. If you try to do it with less than 20 hours….I promise you that you will not hit that minimum wage for earnings. 

If you want to make professional wages of $31K+, you’re also going to need time to make that income regardless if your prices are higher….actually, you may even need others time to make that income with outsourcing.

Is this doable?


If you’re ready to grow your business and invest in your career- than it’s crucial that you figure out your hours. Don’t move past go. Do not collect $200. Stop right here and figure this out.

If you’re not ready to give your business 30-40 hours a week….than readjust your earning expectations and client intake.

Do the math, figure out what you have to give- divide it equally between client’s and growth. If you have only 5 hours a week- than maybe only one session every other week is all you’ll be able to handle.

How much time do you really have?

Is the number of hours you want to invest in your business even possible? Or do you have even more time that you are currently spending on something of lesser importance? (5 hours a week of house-cleaning, which could be outsourced for $15 an hour, allowing you to spend 5 extra hours per week taking on an extra client maybe = more earnings?)

Go through a weekly calendar and block off time slots to get an idea of how much time you really have to give to your business.

Block off times in a week for:

  • Personal time (exercise, reading, talking on the phone, spending time with friends, etc.)
  • Family Time (dedicated time that is family or spouse focused)
  • Activities (work, church, sports, family, kids, etc.)
  • Client hours (shooting, sales, phone calls)
  • Business & admin hours (editing, blogging, writing, email, marketing, office work, etc.)
  • Education & growth
  • Appointments

*(Use colored pens or pencils if it helps you categorize your time better, so that you can see what categorizes into business, personal or household time.)

  • How many hours per week on average can you dedicate to your business?
  • How many hours per week do you realistically need?
  • How are you able to give your business more hours? (What must be sacrificed?)
  • How can you protect your household/family time, to keep business and extra activities from taking over?

Get clear on what it is that you can take on and give yourself grace for the season of life that you are in.

When the time is right to invest more hours- be wise with where you invest them.


(Click here to watch a replay of our free mini masterclass ‘The Top 10 Reasons Why Portrait Photography Businesses Fail’)