Are you considering going into the photo booth business? If so, congratulations! It’s a fun and interesting way to make money. Like any business, however, it isn’t without its quirks. As an entrepreneur in this field, it will be up to you to learn about this business and learn how to navigate the ups and downs and unique elements of it.
As you might expect, running a photo booth business isn’t as simple as simply buying some equipment and setting up shop. To get your business off the ground, you’ll have to learn many of the same things that you would have to learn to start any business — things like how to stand out from your competition and how to find and maintain customers. You’ll have to learn how to balance your profits and expenses. You’ll have to learn how to market yourself.
While starting a business is never an easy journey, it’s certainly a rewarding one. To help you out with your brand-new business, we’ve compiled some advice on how to start a photo booth business. We’ll talk about some of the common pitfalls you can expect to run into and how to navigate them, how to track down customers, potential profit margins and more.
As a busy entrepreneur, you don’t have any time to waste. Let’s get right to it.
THE BENEFITS OF STARTING YOUR OWN PHOTO BOOTH BUSINESS
If you’re considering starting out on any new venture — particularly a business venture where you’ll be investing money up front on the promise that it’ll pay off down the line — you’ll want some confidence going into it. You’ll want to feel at least moderately hopeful that the payoff will be worth the risk.
Because of this, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask yourself about the benefits of starting your very own photo booth business:
The first and most obvious benefit is the level of freedom this type of work offers you. The hours and schedule are so flexible that, depending on your specific situation, you could do this work as a second job in the evenings or on the weekends. Or if your situation allows for it, you could even make this your full-time job.
As the owner of the photo booth, you have the power to either accept or decline bookings entirely at your own discretion. If it’s the middle of winter, the roads are covered in snow and someone asks you to bring your photo booth to their birthday party, you can simply say, “Sorry. We’re booked.”
On the opposite side of that coin, you also can go after as many bookings as you can handle. If it’s summer and you want to make a little extra money for a big expense you have coming up, you can knock on as many doors as it takes to get more bookings than usual.
As the owner of a business that’s already inherently quite flexible, you have the kind of freedom that’s almost too good to be true.
Photo booths can make a fair amount of money. Exact amounts will depend on your specific situation, making it difficult to make predictions in that area. However, it’s highly likely that you can successfully turn a profit.
What’s more, you will be making this money in exchange for operating a photo booth. While hard work is wonderful and important, there’s also something to be said for earning money doing something that’s fun and relatively stress-free. If you’re going to have a side-business or even a full-time startup business, operating a photo booth is a fun way to earn money that doesn’t require excessive amounts of manual labor.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU MAKE BY RUNNING A PHOTO BOOTH?
Yes, we just said that it was almost impossible to predict the amount of money you could make when running a photo booth. But as someone who has already started their journey into this business or is seriously considering it, we understand that having some sample numbers to look at can be helpful.
Keep in mind that these numbers are purely estimates. They may not prove to be 100 percent accurate or representative of your experience:
- If you choose to run your photo booth operation as a full-time job, taking on multiple employees and devoting at least 40 hours a week to the job, there is no limit to how much you could earn. However, if you envision your photo booth business as more of a part-time side job, your profits will understandably be lower.
- The amount you charge for every event will also differ depending on where your business is located. If you’re planning on operating out of Manhattan, you can expect to charge far more than you could if you’re going to operate out of a small town or even a small city.
- For a sample case, however, imagine that you book an event for $700. Your miscellaneous expenses per event will roughly be $100, give or take. This means that you come away with a net profit of $600. If the event is four hours long, with an hour of setup and teardown before and after, this means you spent six hours working and made roughly $100 per hour.
This is purely an estimate, but we’ll use it as a sample number to calculate how much you could make based on a few different scenarios:
1. If You Run a Booth Part-Time on the Weekends
Let’s say you work a full-time job during the week but you also run a photo booth for a few hours on the weekends in the summers. Your operation is small and you do all the work yourself. How much money would you be making?
Breaking down the numbers, there are 26 weekends in half the year, assuming you work from roughly mid-April to mid-October. If you book an event for both weekend nights, 26 weeks a year, that makes 52 events. Using our $600 profit calculated earlier, that gives us $600 x 52, which comes out to $31,200. That’s from only working weekends, for only half the year.
Keep in mind that there are also expenses like insurance and travel and that you may not want to book every single weekend — especially if you work full-time during the week.
2. If You Run Multiple Booths and Hire Employees
It’s also possible you’ll want to expand your operation and make it a little bigger. If you hire another employee, assume you’ll have to pay them roughly $100 per event. This means your profit for every event goes down to around $500.
Now imagine you have two booths, each running the same scenario we discussed previously. That means even with paying the extra employees, the combined booths have the potential to bring in $52,000. If you were booking all year round, you could potentially double that amount.
Remember that these numbers are estimates, but they’re very useful estimates. Based on these numbers, you can see that running a photo booth is a profitable enterprise. If you have customers, you will make money — there’s little question of that.
HOW TO FIND CUSTOMERS
Anyone who has ever started their own business will tell you that one of the most difficult parts, in the beginning, is finding customers. How do you get your name out there and how do you convince people that your business is better than any of your competitors?
This largely breaks down into two components:
1. Market Yourself Online
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In today’s world, your business will have a hard time establishing itself if you have no online presence. This means building a good website. It also means engaging on social media and actively posting content and driving traffic to your rental page. Your website must be functional, of course, but it also needs to be more than that. It needs to have a look and feel (and possibly sound) that convinces people your service stands above the rest.
2. Spread the Word in Person
The second half of your marketing strategy should be to spread the word in person. Tell your friends and family you’re starting a photo booth business and ask them to tell their friends. Whenever you hear about a wedding, ask if they’ve thought of renting a photo booth. While word-of-mouth reaches fewer people than an online platform, it’s still an important part of your marketing strategy and should not be overlooked.
ISSUES YOU MIGHT RUN INTO WHEN YOU START YOUR PHOTO BOOTH BUSINESS
As great as this sounds so far — making money, having lots of freedom and being your own boss — the job isn’t without a few snags. Here are a few of the common roadblocks you might encounter as you start out, plus what to do about them.
1. Hiring Employees
At the start of your business, you might wonder whether or not you should take on another employee. After all, it stands to reason that if you hire another person, you can work more bookings and bring in more money.
However, keep in mind that hiring another person also means you’ll have to pay their wages. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can cut into your profits — especially if you’re just starting out.
Our recommendation is to start out working by yourself. If you really feel you need an assistant, bring them on for a very limited number of hours. The odds are good that, in the beginning, you won’t be making so many bookings that you’ll require more workers. Once your business is better established and bookings are coming in more steadily, you might begin thinking about hiring an employee. If you do it before that point, however, you may end up spending more money than you’re bringing in.
2. Playing the Bouncer
This might not be something you’d expect to run into when operating a photo booth, but it’s a common enough problem. Most photo booths are hired for parties and receptions of some variety, meaning the people using them are in high spirits and have often had a bit to drink. While this isn’t inherently a problem, it can tend to lead to rowdy behavior.
As the operator of the photo booth, it’s your job to make sure everyone is behaving themselves and not damaging any of the equipment. At times, this can require you to step in and ask people to leave if they’re committed to causing trouble.
If you’re the type of person who’s very soft-spoken or uncomfortable giving directions, this may feel unnatural at first. Our best advice here is to simply act the part until you feel it. Take a deep breath, use your most authoritative voice and tell them to stop damaging the equipment.
3. Finding Customers
We mentioned this a bit earlier, but it’s likely to be a challenge at first. You’ll need to get the word out that you have an operational photo booth business and you’ll want to do it as fast as possible.
Your internet presence is key. Create a website for yourself and share it on all your personal social media platforms. Depending on the size of your business and your individual situation, you might also create a few social media accounts for your business. Hire your business out to your friends at a discounted rate if they agree to recommend you to their friends.
Once you begin to build a list of past clients, you can use their testimonies and words of recommendation to market yourself to new audiences. In this way, your business might grow slowly, but also surely. Be patient and stick it out — you’ll get there.
HOW CAN A CRM HELP ME MANAGE MY PHOTO BOOTH BUSINESS?
Starting a business means you’ll have to begin thinking about things like customer management and invoices. Your photo booth business will be no different from any other business in this regard. If you don’t have a lot of prior business experience, this might seem like an intimidating prospect — but it’s less intimidating when you use Táve.
Táve is a one-stop software app that’s designed to help entrepreneurs like you manage the business side of their creative enterprise. By managing the more technical side of things, Táve frees you up to do what you do best: in this case, running your photo booth.
Táve is designed with the understanding that every business is different and will have an individual set of needs and expectations. That’s why the app is flexible and customizable. There’s also a fast online support network to help you out in case you get stuck. Let Táve handle everything from invoice management for your photo booth business to lead tracking, follow-up emails, automated billing, client management, online contracts and so much more.
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