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Scott's Column
Starting Photography as a Business (Continued)

August 1, 2014
By Scott Lewis

When we left off last month we had covered the following:

  • I created the web site scottlewisphotos.com with Zenfolio (because Zenfolio allowed custom pricing at a significantly lower price than SmugMug. SmugMug wanted twice as much to allow custom pricing).
  • I prepared photos for the web site. Removing logos I do not have rights to use, standardizing the look of photos, etc.
  • I set up initial pricing for photos.
  • I applyied for a Sole Proprietorship (i.e., assumed name certificate, a.k.a. dba - doing business as).
  • I applied for a Sales Tax ID.

Since last month I received my "Certificate of Reservation of Entity Name" which reserves the name "Scott Lewis Photos" for 120 days. That cost me $41.08 (Total to date since June 1 = $180.07). The next step will be to renew the name for some number of years. This needs to be done during the last 30 days of receiving this certificate. So this will be finalized in October.

Logo

My son did a great job drawing a camera logo.  I saved it in a number of variations (black on white, white on black, various shades of gray on a transparent background, etc).

Business Cards

With the logo... I ordered business cards through iPrint.com. I know how they print (full disclosure... I work for the company that owns them). I did not get any special discount. I ordered the Premium Linen card stock (because the plant engineer told me it gave the best results). I paid $20.57 for them. Well worth it (Total to date since June 1 = $200.64). A hiccup occurred. Once I finished designing... and buying the business cards... I texted the preview to the engineer. He then told me that the linen stock would not be best for the design:

A black background would look much better on standard card stock with our UV coating. Fortunately, I have access to the systems. I looked up my order and changed the Product ID it was saved under so it would print on the appropriate stock. They look great.

I received my sales tax certificate a few days ago. I will be required to log into their system to report sales tax every month... even if I do not have any sales tax to report. That is likely until I get this going.

I have had to go through all the photos on my web site to incorporate the logo my son created. I also changed the font I use for my name on prints. I originally used Tahoma. An easy to read font that will give good results on screen and in print. However, iPrint offered Copperplate as a font for the business cards. So I used that font for the business name only. I used a standard font for all the rest of the text on the business card. Of course... for consistency I changed the signature I use on my photos to the same font.

Next on the agenda, once the web site was working well enough, was to reach out to a potential client. I am still going to be vague about that. I sent an email to one potential business entity to setup an appointment. I have not heard back. I am sure I will not hear back unless I reach our more forcefully... meaning I need to call them on the phone.

As I write this, it is literally the last weekend of July and I have a massive server upgrade to perform this weekend. So I can't push harder on this side business. Next week I plan to call the business entity, and if that falls through I have a few other business entities to contact. I am hoping one will take me up on my offer. I will tell you about it soon. Hopefully next month.

Conclusion

I am getting close to making some money as a photographer. I did a photo shoot for my son's friend with a Boss 302 Mustang (see Car Corner article this month). I will get paid a very small fee for this job. Because he is helping me (I can use the photos I took of his car to try to get more business), I am not charging him for my time or any of the digital photos. I am only going to charge him a small profit for the main print... a panoramic that will be framed. I have it on order and hope to see it very soon.

Hopefully next month I will have more to tell on the business plan.

At the least... next month I will probably report about this massive server upgrade at my day job that has me working two days on a weekend.

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