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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Studio Size?
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11/10/2005 03:49:25 PM · #1
Okay, looked at two locations today for setting up a studio. The difference in them is one I can have the whole place to myself, with a bathroom and rent plus utilities is $1050 month, meaning to break even I would have to shoot at least 35 sets a month at $30/set.

The other is $1000 a month for rent and utilities and I can keep the whole place to myself OR rent out the back two rooms to the business next door and get at least $200 a month back, leaving me to pay out $800 a month and the break even would then be 27 sets a month at $30/set

The $30 is just the average sitting fee for now, not set in stone.

The studio size in the first one would be about 15' wide by about 20 feet long, nice and big.

The studio size in the second one is 12' wide by 18' long.

I'm leaning towards the second one to start with because of price and location, it's right off a main street, lots of drive by traffic (when I say off I mean there is one store between me and the main street), it's right next to a children's second hand store.

Is the studio area large enough? I'm thinking yes since it's bigger than my dining room and that is what I'm currently using and it seems to be working just fine.

Thanks

Deannda
11/10/2005 03:57:59 PM · #2
how many sets do you think you can get an month Deannda? Honestly? Because that would be the determining factor imho.
How many are you getting now in your living room?
Is what youre getting now, and what you need to break even a large jump?

I'd go with the latter too, just because the rent is less, and the location sounds good ;) It's not like anyone will be bring in apet elephant...right?!?

Message edited by author 2005-11-10 16:00:28.
11/10/2005 04:11:11 PM · #3
Next to a childrens 2nd hand store might also be good, though if people are at the 2nd hand store maybe they don't have enough for photos.
One thing that might be worth thinking about is keeping one of the rooms to use for changing and makeup if you want to take pictures of people & not just stray elephants.
11/10/2005 04:17:26 PM · #4
Originally posted by aKiwi:

Next to a childrens 2nd hand store might also be good, though if people are at the 2nd hand store maybe they don't have enough for photos.
One thing that might be worth thinking about is keeping one of the rooms to use for changing and makeup if you want to take pictures of people & not just stray elephants.


We would still have access to the bathroom in the back. And the studio would be totally closed off from the reception area so it can also be used for a changing room if needed.
11/10/2005 04:18:06 PM · #5
Just my honest opinion, not that it's worth much... but if it were me, I'd try to get the number of sittings as close to that break-even point in the living room before I thought about renting space (which mesmeraj basically said earlier).

I don't know what kind of traffic you're able to attract now, but I'd be pretty nervous about setting up shop without knowing that I'd be able to make enough to pay the bills.

I would think that moving into a dedicated shop would involve quite a few more expenses than just the rent, too... like signage, utilities, and so forth.

I'm not trying to discourage you at all, don't get me wrong. I'm just thinking that if you're focusing almost entirely on pet photos, that's going to be somewhat of a niche market (although it should be an easier sell during the holidays). I'm just sayin' how I'd go about it if I were in your shoes.

EDIT: I guess I'm a little unclear from the thread if you're targeting animals, or kids, or both... but I'd still offer the same advice.

Message edited by author 2005-11-10 16:19:46.
11/10/2005 04:34:02 PM · #6
I'm not doing any in the living room right now, all my work has been on location or in home. My house is not suitable to bring clients into, it's in the middle or remodeling and it's barely habitable for me.

Did I also mention the owner's wife owns a beauty shop and the first words out of her mouth once she heard I was a photographer was, "Do you do Glamour shots? I have clients that do them about 4 times a year and I'm looking for someone local to do them!"

I just got off the phone with Terry, my husband and he said, "Go for it. If we're going to go in debt, let's go all the way." So I guess it's time I unfroze the credit card and ordered some decent lighting, right?

Deannda
Terrified, thrilled, scared silly and numb all at once
11/10/2005 04:39:40 PM · #7
In any event, best of luck -- I'll look forward to keeping tabs on how it goes for ya :)
11/10/2005 05:11:20 PM · #8
Well, nothing is going to happen if I can't come up with about $1000 in the next 3 business days. Between the security deposit for the space and to get the power turned on........... Should be interesting to say the least.

Deannda
11/10/2005 07:11:59 PM · #9
Another thought is to talk to the children's second hand store? How big is it, could you lease space and share profits?

Another thought, regarding the owner's beauty shop. Don't offer her clients a discount. Offer her a $5/referral fee. (So if she sends you 20 customers from her shop, she will make an extra $100 that month.)
11/10/2005 07:28:31 PM · #10
I'd go the smaller one for now unless, as mesmeraj stated, you know for sure you are going to have that many sittings to keep the rent up!
11/10/2005 07:36:45 PM · #11
I assume you are absolutely sold on having a studio?

The reason I ask is that rent is one of the biggest steps and burdens on a business. Do you have to sign a contract? And if you do for how long?

I don't know your work habits, speed and skill as a photographer, demand in your community for your services, competitive environment, your sales abilities, your business management skills or other factors.

So, bottom line. If you could not make the rent how liable are you. If you made no profit for a year, could you survive?

11/10/2005 07:37:15 PM · #12
If you haven't done so already, I'd recommend going to the bank and getting a small business loan. Or searching elsewhere for an artist's grant. One of the benefits for you would be the requirement to draft a viable business plan. Granted, I'm only seeing bits and pieces of your endeavor through forum postings, my overall impression is that you are long on concept and short on practicality here. You can't figure a breakeven point based on rent alone.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there are a lot more concerns here than just rent. Some of them have been mentioned already, but another big one is liability insurance - what if someone slips and falls in your studio? Another one is taxes - you'll owe those on a quarterly basis and that must be factored in when you consider your breakeven points. You are considering signing a lease here - if your business fails in 6 months you are still liable for the rent payments.

It seems you are working very hard to make a dream come true - kudos to you. Before jumping in to such a huge financial commitment, take a breath! Yes, you have to spend money to make money, but spending wisely gives you a better shot. Are you really counting on getting 27 sets a month? The average number of business days in a month is 20 - so you are looking at better than one client a day and 27 probably isn't even a realistic number.

Given that you don't want to open a studio in your house, have you considered sharing space with another photographer? Or doing the shoots at the client's house? Or doing the shoots in a public location?

11/10/2005 07:46:06 PM · #13
Originally posted by Neuferland:

Well, nothing is going to happen if I can't come up with about $1000 in the next 3 business days. Between the security deposit for the space and to get the power turned on........... Should be interesting to say the least.

Deannda

Wouldn't it be cheaper to hire a studio? Currently I am hiring a studio after getting enough bookings to fill a day at £80(UKP) for the studio or £50(UKP) for a half day. I then charge clients £35 sitting for 40 mins (more than enough if you work fast enough) and I always make sure I have a full book before hiring. However I had a duet in the other day for £125 which paid for the whole days studio within 60 minutes. Everything after that was profit. It would probably make more sense in the long run.

//www.the-binary-refinery.co.uk/brett for examples..
11/10/2005 08:04:51 PM · #14
Thanks everyone for the ideas.

As for sharing a space with another photographer, I really can't see that happening right now.

I am supposed to go over tomorrow and talk over the lease. It's for 6 months, starting tomorrow but I'm changing the start date to the date I can actually get the power turned on.

I have been doing in home and on location shoots so far but with the weather turning colder, outside photography is going to be harder and harder. I am going to do a big promotional push this weekend, getting flyers, business cards, promotional material out and see what kind of response I get before I totally commit to the space. IF it's decent then we will go from there. If it's non-existant then I will have to tell the landlord, thanks but I'll have to pass for right now. Tomorrow we will take our flyers out to all the vets, groomers, kennels and pet stores and see what happens.

I am thinking of all the things that can happen, I'm calling on Monday about insurance, taxes and possibly setting myself up as a LLC to avoid having any personal assets attached to the business. I am going to be doing a lot of reading this weekend as well as I continue to do my research.

Thanks again, keep talking, I'm listening!
11/10/2005 08:27:11 PM · #15
Deannda,

On the insurance front I suggest looking at a PPA membership. Just joining at the "Professional" level affords you malpractice support and intellectual property assistance (not that you'll need it but its nice to know you have it). Once you're a member you can obtain liability and equipment from Marsh. Its a better deal than the deal offered through WPPI.
I'm not intending to imply that you shouldn't get a lease; in some ways I envy you getting into this line full-time. I do think that if you choose not to get the lease or its just too much you may find that scheduling shoots on specific days so that you can rent some studio for those days may be a viable option. I've rented space in a larger studio a few times and it was better equipped and had more room for me & the models I was working with.
I don't know about the taxes where you are but in Tennessee you don't owe sales tax on small business incomes less than $4800 in any calendar year (according to my accountant and the small bus. development center in our town) but when you make it past that magic threshhold it can be eye-opening to have to collect taxes and make those quarterly payments -- its just a pain and you have to refactor your pricing to get the same margins.

Just some things to think about. Congratulations to you and your husband and good luck!

Kev
11/10/2005 08:27:11 PM · #16
Deannda, it sounds like you are on a good track. Just out of curiousity - have you spoken with a contractor as to the amount it would take to build/improve suitable space within your home? Is it substantially less than the studio space you are thinking of renting?

Marksimms had a good idea about renting space on an as-needed basis. Does your town have a community center or town hall or other public building with a suitable room that you could use on a short-term basis? That might not help for the pet shots, but could work for portraits.

11/10/2005 08:44:32 PM · #17
I talked to the landlord and what I'm going to do is get my name out there this weekend. Going to put out flyers, business cards, promotional material, the works. See what kind of response I get and if it's good, go from there, if it's BAD, wait and either work in the client's home or try to find a space I can use on certain days.

Thanks for the ideas, keep them coming!
11/10/2005 08:48:35 PM · #18
Originally posted by A1275:

Deannda, it sounds like you are on a good track. Just out of curiousity - have you spoken with a contractor as to the amount it would take to build/improve suitable space within your home? Is it substantially less than the studio space you are thinking of renting?
.


I just made the same leap . . . We built another room to our house over the existing garage. This gives me a floor space of 20x24 ft. this is good enough for portraits and setup lights. I also do a lot of outdoor shots around the house but I have 50 acres to play with there . . .:)

Depending of your present situation you may want to look at this. It's an asset you will re-sell with your house.

Fred
11/10/2005 08:54:15 PM · #19
The biggest problem with working in MY home is my neighbors. I live in a residential area and my neighbors get very upset with my own dogs sometimes and they are just nasty enough that if they started seeing people coming in and out with pets or by themselves to turn me in for running a 'business' in my home. It's one thing when I just do the bookwork and some small studio work here with my own pets and kids, it's another when I start bringing others in.

As for having a contractor come in, we are going to do that when we get our taxes back this year. The porch is most defintely getting fixed (might be through insurance depending on the cost) and hopefully the back bathroom and living room will get done this time around.

Deannda
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