Is It Possible To Build A Full Time Real Estate Photography Business In Mytown ?

April 30th, 2015

SucessInder in Winnipeg Manitoba asks:

I want to start a real estate photography business in Canada. I have some business experience and photographic experience and have the required equipment. I’m not sure how to decide if it’s possible to make real estate photography a full time business that will support my family. My main questions are:

1. How do I determine of the market here is large enough  for me to support my family with a real estate photography business?

2. How do I manage a business in winter?

Assessing the market for real estate photography:
Yes, some cities are more difficult to build a real estate photography business in than others. Here’s what I would do to assess the real estate market in Winnipeg: Google “Winnipeg Manitoba real estate photography” to get a feel for how many real estate photographers there are in Winnipeg.

I find at least the first two pages of search results are filled with websites of professional real estate photographers in Winnipeg. There’s no way to know if these are people making money full time, but this looks encouraging! I think it is very likely that it is possible build a full time job doing real estate photography in Winnipeg. When you are starting up from zero success won’t happen overnight. People find that it takes a year or more in this kind of market to build a business. Be warned that your success will depend more on how you are able to market yourself than how good a photographer you are or what the market is like. It takes perseverance! Have a second source of income to fall back on while you are starting up.

Managing a business in winter:
Generally in most of North America the winter doesn’t stop the real estate photography business because 99% of it occurs inside. Where it’s very cold and snowy it’s customary to re-photograph exteriors in spring when the snow disappears. Real estate photography slows down from November through January everywhere anyway, because of the holidays. People are busy with other things during those months. So expect that time of the year to be slow.

There are likely readers that can give better advice than I on issues with real estate photography in the far North. We have one reader in Norway that goes to shoots in the winter on skis! Karl can give you advice about winter shooting, he is 140 km inside of the Arctic Circle!

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6 Responses to “Is It Possible To Build A Full Time Real Estate Photography Business In Mytown ?”

  • Inder,

    I am in Minnesota, in a smaller market. I have been growing fairly steady since 2011 and have doubled my income each year. It is very possible, it may just take some time. The biggest thing that worked for me is getting at least one or two agents on board, and the rest eventually realize that professional photography is what is best for their clients. I only have about 8 regular agents working with me, but I am getting enough work to where I needed to bring on a second photographer. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

  • I am in southeastern Manitoba, 30 minutes from WPG and I have yet to make it full time. Only been doing real estate for one year. I’ve found the agents around steinbach and area really want to hold on to their money. I’m at home with small children so I haven’t made the effort to go to weekly meetings etc. I am the talk of the town (they love my style, looks real etc) when an agent uses me so they all know about me. I can only give away so many shoots. So I’m not sure what to do next. Just thought I’d weigh in.
    Good luck on your endeavours!

  • i asked Larry a similar question a few years ago and he posted a similar article. In smaller markets, it is harder to get started. Like I mentioned in my first post, I have been growing since 2011, doubling every year. Last year I shot exactly 100 homes, this year so far I have already shot over 60 homes. My market has a population of under 100k people in the greater metro and just over 200 agents and as mentioned only about 8 of those agents are regular clients of mine. I say all of this because you really don’t need a ton of agents to be successful. It just takes longer to get them when you do absolutely zero marketing like myself. All of my business has been word of mouth with the exception of doing a few ad trades for local magazines (trade photography for ad space).

  • I agree Jordan. I started out getting two (good) clients from the same office that used me for all of their listings. After 12 months I was shooing for 8 agents in the office. I’ve now done work for probably 20-25 of them and the number is continuing to climb. They call me their “in house” photographer now (even though I’m technicallynot), get invited to the Christmas parties and all the big meetings. Getting yourself established in one big office and be the difference between success and failure.

  • I’m in the heart of Wisconsin, and it took about a year and a half, but I never gave up and eventually reached where I am today (almost too busy). Presentations at local RE meetings and Facebook posts were my biggest marketing ploys that helped me the most. It definitely is possible, but you need to snag a couple consistent clients that will talk you up to other agents in their office.

    To go along with that…your work needs to be very solid. When agents can see (almost instantly) that your work is different (ie substantially better), making it in this business can happen. It’s not easy that’s for sure…definitely frustrating at times…but you can’t give up. Keeping learning, making great images, and trying all sorts of marketing until you find something that works.

  • No matter where you live, if you WORK HARD and market yourself well, you can make ANY job a full time career!

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