Franchise vs. Freelance: Owning Your Own Photography Business

Man with camera taking photo for photography franchise business

If you’re looking to own your own photography business, you have several options when it comes to how you want your business to be structured. Buying into an existing franchise or going the freelance route are two popular options, but how do you decide which one is best for you?

We asked two current TSS photographers to discuss their journey, and hopefully, their experiences can help you find out what your next steps should be.

TSS Photography Franchise Owner – Jennifer Lambertz

three caption photo of a young boy playing baseball and posing for TSS Photography owner Jennifer Lambertz
Courtesy of Jennifer Lambertz

 

Jennifer Lambertz bought her TSS Photography franchise in the Atlanta area two years ago. She decided to leave the corporate world behind and become a photographer full-time. While working at her corporate job, she did wedding photography as a side project.

“Photography is a highly competitive market,” Jennifer said. “I never tried it on my own. When I exited corporate life, I decided to buy my TSS Photography franchise because of the advantages I saw.”

Tested Systems Already in Use

Jennifer shared with us a few of her favorite things about being a franchise owner, the first being that she doesn’t have to recreate the wheel when doing something new.

“The existing materials that are available for things like training and marketing make things much simpler for me,” Jennifer said. “Anything I don’t know how to do, I can ask the franchise for. If they don’t currently have material on a subject I need, they will create it for everyone.”

A Solid Support System

Her first point leads directly into her second point–she loves being able to share her experiences with other TSS Photography franchise owners. Since they aren’t in competition for the same customers, they are often able to share tips and tricks of the trade other photographers would be unwilling to divulge.

“We have a Facebook page where you can go at 2 a.m. and ask how to fix problems with the system, and usually there is someone awake,” Jennifer said as she laughed. “We’re all a little crazy. The franchise folks are on the Facebook page as well, and they monitor it even outside of office hours. They even chime in when it is something they can help fix.”

She explained that the other franchisees can relate to what is happening when out in the field, dealing with families, or using the software. They are the ones on the ground and are often able to quickly answer questions for one another.

“Even though we all do the same thing, we realize there are 20 different ways to do it,” she said. “When we want to change our business models at all, we can bounce ideas off each other and get a better sense of how to go about it or what the response will be.”

People Recognize Your Company Name

Jennifer shared that her final favorite part of owning a franchise is the brand recognition that comes with being associated with the TSS Photography name. Living in an area the size of Atlanta, the schools are very large, which means there’s more competition.

“I can’t walk into schools this size and say ‘Hi, I’m Jenny and I want to take your photos’ they would laugh at me,” Jennifer said. “I get to walk in with our company history as my backing and let them see what we can bring to the table.”

How Could a Franchise Go Wrong?

Jennifer knew that no matter whether she purchased a franchise or started her own business, time management, hiring staff, and insurance issues would be a part of it. All of these things she could learn to do and could use her support system for. Her warning was to watch out for the “wrong” franchise.

“I don’t have this problem, but it is possible to buy into a bad situation with a franchise,” Jennifer said. “You can buy into one where you get no support. The most important thing you can do is to thoroughly vet your franchise. Don’t buy in unless you are sure they are a good fit for your goals. That’s what I did.”

Owner of The Big and Bright –
Kaitlyn Bullard

Couple standing in front of water laughing and showing off an engagement ring done by a freelance photograher
Courtesy of The Big and Bright

Kaitlyn Bullard is a Texas transplant now living in Oklahoma City who works at a digital marketing agency. She owns a successful freelance photography business– The Big and Bright –and loves the avenue for creativity her photography provides her.

Developing the Brand

One of the most alluring aspects of starting your own photography business is the ability to create it exactly the way you’ve always imagined. You can build your reputation, processes, marketing, and style into everything you’ve wanted for your career.

“The best thing about being a freelance photographer, for me, is being able to develop my own brand and my own style,” Kaitlyn said. “It attracts the type of customers I truly love working with.”

Being Your Own Boss

Most often, when people start their own business, they express excitement about no longer having a boss. Overseeing your own workload– both the size and timing of when tasks are completed–is exciting to new business owners.

“I enjoy being able to take on as much or as little work as I want to,” Kaitlyn said. “Being able to take the risk of implementing new strategies for my business is also exciting.”

Being the Boss of Everything

Sometimes the stress of handling all the aspects of a business can feel overwhelming. When starting a new business, it’s easy to forget about the everyday tasks that must happen to keep your business running.

“The most challenging parts of owning a freelance photography business are the lack of consistency–some months bring in significantly more business than others, so it can be hard to plan sometimes,” Kaitlyn said. “Another challenging aspect is just having to build the business side of things from the ground up: a website, a social media following, a pricing structure, bookkeeping, taxes–you’re responsible for so many other things besides just doing your craft.”

Which Option is right for you?

No one can tell you which kind of business is right for you. However, if working with a photography franchise sounds like something you would be interested in learning more about, download our virtual brochure. Franchise opportunities are waiting for you with TSS Photography.