Start a pet photography business by following these 9 steps:
You’ve found the perfect business idea and now you’re ready to take the next step. Starting a business involves more than just registering it in the state. We’ve put together this simple guide to starting your pet photography business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned, properly registered, and compliant with the law.
See our How to Start a Business page.
What are the costs involved in opening a pet photography business?
There are a number of pet photography franchise options available to the entrepreneur who prefers support and guidance as they begin this journey. The liquid capital required to franchise with Lil’ Pals Pet Photography is $71,000. $10,000 of this goes toward your initial franchise fee, while the remaining $61,000 goes towards start-up costs.
Commissioning costs include the following:
- Canine behavior training
- Photography equipment (camera, autofocus lens, zoom lens and memory cards)
- Mobile Studio
- Computer and editing software
- Marketing elements
Each employee will need their own equipment as well as a reliable vehicle.
What are the current expenses of a pet photography business?
Most pet photographers choose to give up the physical studio and opt for a mobile studio. This offers more flexibility and greatly reduces overhead. When planning your budget, consider the following ongoing expenses:
- Repair and replacement of equipment
- Vehicle and fuel repair costs
- Mobile Studio Accessories – As trends change, you’ll need to keep adding options to your studio
- Animal treats, toys and leashes
- Annual state registration fees, sales tax license, and city occupational taxes
- Payroll taxes: Consider hiring freelancers when you start cutting down on expenses
- Liability insurance
- Continuing Education / Workshops
- Software Updates
- Marketing elements
- Website hosting and maintenance
Who is the target market?
It is estimated that there are more than 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats in the United States. The vast majority of these animals are considered part of the family, travel by road, go to the store and go out to dinner. For most pet owners, there’s not much they wouldn’t do for their furry family members. – this is your target audience.
How does a pet photography business make money?
Your organization will generate revenue with each photo shoot. Most companies charge a flat fee for the session, including a specific number of photos. Additional goods and services are offered for an additional fee.
How much can you charge customers?
Rates vary depending on the experience and location of the photographer. Most offer several packages, including the photo shoot and a specific number of photos. Packages can start in the $175 area and can go up to $350. Additional photos are available for an additional fee.
How much profit can a pet photography business generate?
The profitability of your company depends on several factors: how much you charge per session, how many packages you sell at each level, and how your company pays other photographers on your team. For example, a Seattle pet photographer charges $350 for a basic package. He is currently the only photographer, so all the work is completed by him. If you shoot five sessions a week, you get $7,000 per month in fees. With an average of $600 per month in expenses, you make a profit of $6,400 each month.
How can you make your business more profitable?
To make their businesses more profitable, industry professionals have implemented the following strategies:
- Offer to hang your art for sale at local veterinarians, restaurants, hairdressers, and humanitarian societies.
- Include printing and framing as part of your service for an additional fee.
- Offer a variety of products to choose from, including: key chains, calendars, cards, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and earrings.
- Consider taking photos at horse exhibits, racetracks, horse breeding farms, equestrian centers, adoption events, and dog exhibits.
- You can also offer to take photographs for pet walkers, breeders, or groomers that these professionals can use in their online and printed marketing materials.
- Christmas photos showing customers’ pets with Santa Claus have recently become a consumer favorite.
- Reach out to local breeders, trainers and hairdressers about making advertising photographs.
- It sells stock photos to websites like iStock and Dreamstime.
- If you are an expert in videography, include it as an additional service.
How will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help exchanging ideas about a name with our Pet Photography Business Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you may want to trade under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend that you research your company name by dialing:
- Your state’s business records
- Federal and State Trademark Registrations
- Social Media Platforms
Web domain availability.
It is very important to protect your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common types of business structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity, such as an LLC or corporation, protects you from being held personally liable if your pet photography business is sued.
You can start an LLC yourself and pay only the minimum costs of the state LLC or hire a Business Training Service for a small additional fee.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You’ll need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open your business.
To register for taxes, you will need to apply for an EIN. It’s really easy and free!
STEP 4: Open a business bank account and credit card
The use of bank and credit accounts dedicated to businesses is essential for the protection of personal assets.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk should your business be sued. In commercial law, this is known as piercing your corporate veil.
In addition, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other types of financing on behalf of your business (rather than your own), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which are necessary for the protection of personal assets.
- It also makes it easy to file taxes and accounting.
Get a Business Credit Card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting all your business expenses in one place.
- It also builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful for raising money and investments later on.
STEP 5: Set up enterprise accounting
Recording your various expenses and revenue streams is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax return.
STEP 6: Get the necessary permits and licenses
Not getting the necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even lead to the closure of your business.
State and Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a pet photography business. Learn more about the licensing requirements in your state by visiting the SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
In addition, certain state and local regulatory or licensing requirements may apply.
- For more information on state licensing requirements, visit the SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits
- For more information about local permit and licensing requirements, check with your town, city, or county clerk’s office, or get help from one of the local associations listed in the U.S. Small Business Association Directory. From local commercial resources.
Certificate of occupancy
A pet photography business can be run from a large store. Businesses operating from a physical location generally require a Certificate of occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations have been complied with.
- If you plan to rent a store:
- Generally, it is the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a pet photography business.
- After a major renovation, it is often necessary to emit a new CO. If your workplace will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease stating that lease payments will not begin until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to buy or a store:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business location to make sure your pet photography business meets the requirements and can get a CO.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
As with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance to operate safely and legally. Commercial insurance protects your company’s financial well-being in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you are unsure of the types of risks your company may face, start with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage small businesses need, making it a great place to start your business.
Learn more about general liability insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is workers’ compensation insurance. If your company will have employees, it is very likely that your state will require you to have workers’ compensation coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how the public perceives your business. A strong brand will help your company stand out from the competition.
If you don’t feel confident designing your small business logo, check out our Beginner Design Guides, we’ll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your company.
How to Promote and Market a Pet Photography Business
Before developing a marketing strategy, research your area to determine how pet-friendly it is. If the local market is already saturated with pet photographers, or if it’s not particularly pet-friendly, expand your service area to reach those who would be most interested in your services.
Once you’ve identified your service area, reach out to local dog magazines and pet publications. Buy ad space and offer your services for a featured article. Give back to the community by offering a photo shoot to your local animal rescue. In doing so, he has helped save a life and the community has the opportunity to see his work.
Create a portfolio of your work, including photos of a variety of different types of pets (birds, fish, turtles, rats, and of course, dogs and cats). Approach local businesses that deal with animals and ask to leave a copy of your wallet and business cards. Businesses should include: groomers, dog daycares, high-end pet stores, veterinarians, dog parks, and dog-friendly cafes.
Setting up a booth at Pet Expos is also an effective way to reach your target market. Pet photographers have also had success donating a package of photo shoots to their community’s animal fundraising events.
How to keep customers coming back
Customer retention often comes down to the quality of the goods and services you provide. Always treat animals with the respect they deserve and do your best to deliver great photographs to each client. Incentivize current customers by offering discounts for referrals and repeat bookings.
STEP 9: Establish your web presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new customers or customers.