Ryan in Texas asks:
What is the point at which real estate photographers should hire a contractor or employee to take on shoots for them? I have years of experience in RE photography, but a lot less in the business side, especially marketing. Would you take on an apprentice and let them go on their own when they are ready? What would you pay them?
How to grow a real estate photography business is a classic question. There isn't any one answer that is right for everyone in every location. Some will do it with more people (this works very well within families), some will do it by raising their quality and price and some will subcontract parts of the business to others.
Here are several things that may affect your decisions on how to grow your business:
- There is generally not enough profit margin in real estate photography where it would make sense for 3rd parties (more photographers) to get involved and share profit. Someone always gets a bad deal in this arrangement.
- You should be tracking what you are making per shoot so you understand what your profit margin is.
- Most of the success stories we've featured here on the PFRE blog in the past involve raising the quality of your work and charging more.
- If you hire a photographer, you not only have to train them, you have to train them on your style of shooting. And then you are not going to want them to leave and be your competitor. This is what leads to the nasty concept of non-compete agreements.
- Customer service and marketing are typically the more important aspects of this business so if these are your weak points, it may make the most sense to focus on improving these parts of your business rather than getting more people involved.
- Contracting out drone work and Matterport could be done easier than getting more people involved doing the same thing that you are doing.
- Many real estate photographers contract out their post-processing.
Specifically, I would suggest that you find yourself a PFRE coach to work with and go to a workshop like the one in Ontario, Canada at the end of Sept or the one in Irvine, California in mid-September. These would help you navigate through these issues.