4 Steps to Starting a Photo Booth Business
So, you want to start a photo booth business? Congratulations! Maybe you’re looking for a side gig to bring in some extra cash, or maybe you’re looking to quit your full-time job and go in a different direction where you call the shots. Whatever your reasoning, starting a photo booth business is a huge undertaking with great potential!
If you like people, enjoy making people laugh, being part of someone’s big day, or just want to set your own schedule, a photo booth business is the perfect recipe! Now, keep in mind, this is just a very simple list that I hope to expand upon in the near future, providing a more robust and step-by-step outline for you to follow.
Buy the Equipment
The equipment is the first step in the process, and can oftentimes be the most important. Getting the correct equipment that is simple, easy-to-use, and reliable will reduce the chance of errors (and embarrassment) when you are hired for a wedding or party.
If you want to go with a pre-made photo booth, be prepared to shell out a big chunk of change. While they are good and provide what you need, they sometimes only come with the shell of the photo booth and not the actual equipment – camera, monitor, printer, etc. Read what you’re getting to ensure you get exactly what you need.
If you are more industrious and want to make your own photo booth, more power to you. If you go this route, there is often trial and error with measuring, cutting, and constructing the photo booth. Sometimes, you think you measure something correctly, but you won’t know for sure until you put the final piece in place. But, if you aren’t that inclined to build a photo booth, you can go the super simple route and just get a camera and put it on a tripod.
Anyway, the four basic things you need for a photo booth are as follows:
- Camera – what’s a photo booth without a camera?
- Printer – a high-quality printer will produce high-quality prints, don’t skimp on this because the client will see this part of your business everyday on their fridge.
- Lights – a flash of some sort or just a decent light rig that can brighten up the photo is a must – you gotta be able to see the whites of the eyes!
- Computer – a small laptop or portable computer with photo booth software is the heart of the operation and ties everything together.
You can often find gently used equipment on Craigslist, or you can buy the items new from big box or online retailers. There are other pieces of equipment that you can add on at a later date such as props, backdrops, and even photo booth scrapbooks, but to get you started with starting a photo booth business, this is your best bet.
Get a Website
Look, I understand you may be scared, feel like you don’t have time, or don’t know how to create a website – that’s fine. There are websites that can help anyone make a website, and I do mean anyone – it just takes a little effort to get it to look how you want. The biggest point is that you have a website to direct clients and users to so they can see their photos that you’ve taken during the event. Having a website and directing clients to your website will help drive more traffic and increase the possibility of attaining new clients.
Start with something simple – as long as you have contact information on your site with some basic information about what you offer, then you’re ahead of 99% of the competition!
Packages and Pricing
This is often a difficult task – how much do you price your time and services. Keep in mind, this is not how much you feel your time and services are worth, it’s more about how much your time and services are worth. I may think my time is worth $1000 an hour, but I’m not going to get that, am I? No, so price yourself accordingly. Do some research and look at the competition – what do they offer? What are their prices? Start with a basic price and work your way up over time as you perfect your service.
As for packages, again, look at the competition and see what they offer. For myself with iPix Photo Booths, we do it an a la carte style where clients can pick and choose what they want so they don’t pay more for anything they don’t need. It’s important to put yourself in your clients’ position and think what they want and what they expect – if you can do that, then you’re good to go!
Marketing can be a difficult task for a new business. Convincing clients to use your services if you’ve never had a client before is similar to the chicken or the egg argument. However, there are a few marketing tricks you can do to hopefully land your first client in a matter of no time!
Reach out to friends, family, or coworkers and see if anyone is in need of your services. Offer to do a friend’s wedding or your sister’s baby shower for free. Get comfortable with your equipment and the stress of providing your new service. Plus, while you may lose out on recouping any money from the printing supplies or your time, you’ve just put yourself out in front of potentially hundreds of people – if even one person hires you after this free service, then you just had a successful marketing campaign.
You can also go the route of advertising – either digitally or through print. While print may be good, you’re definitely limited to the number of people you could reach, plus it is oftentimes more expensive. Going the digital route through ads on social media pages or through placement on high-traffic websites can increase traffic to your own website (as seen above). Doing advertising is good, but unless you’re comfortable with your situation, this may need to take some research – so take your time!
And finally, social media is an absolute must for a photo booth business! Post relevant information to your pages and engage with customers if they leave a comment, it shows you care. Plus, after an event, you can post the photos to your site and social media pages, and then direct the client to the channel. This will engage everyone to “tag” themselves in the photos which will then reach their friends, and then you have free advertising!
Start Your Photo Booth Business Today!
All of this may seem daunting, and starting a business can be, but if you take your time and make it your passion, no one can fault you! The good thing about starting a photo booth business is that you can start it and continue working your day job. Weddings, parties, and events usually happen on week nights or the weekends, so while you may be working more than you’re used to, you at least can see if starting a photo booth business is going to work.
And one final thought, have fun and enjoy the ride – your attitude can show and will make or break an event for a client.