est. 2008

FAQ : having a small business

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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Welcome! today I’m inviting you over to sit down and answer some of those questions I’ve been asked about having a small business, and of course a photography business in particular. Like I said before, I definitely don’t consider myself an expert, and there are many different ways to do things so my way isn’t necessarily the right way for you. I will say that having a small business is liberating and challenging at the same time. It can completely take over your life if you don’t tame it, but when you do it can give you the freedom to do something you love. (ps. I’m working on taming it, and I think that takes time). So, let’s get started from the beginning:

1. How long did it take you to be able to do this full time?
I spent about a year building up my business while working full time before I switched completely over to doing just photography. Before I started my business I also had about a year of casual wedding photography for friends so I guess you could count that as time spent to get to where I am today as well.
Being able to work slowly into having my own business was really important for me to get started since I wasn’t sure how things would go. It allowed me to get my feet wet before I saw if I could swim (do you like that analogy?)
2. How did you become a small business?

There are a lot of places to help you navigate the steps of creating a small business – often they are local resources that will provide classes and information for you to get started. Several of the steps include: deciding what type of business you want to be (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company), filing a DBA, checking with zoning to approve your home-based business, getting a business license or anything else your county/city clerk requires, and filling the proper documents to pay and collect sales tax… what am I missing? Like I said, find your local small business administration office or someone to help but a good place to start is online at

3. What tips do you have for getting your name out?
I would start with your product (photography), since often your work will speak for itself. You already know that word of mouth is the best advertising and that of course is based on good experiences + products. Make it easy for people to find you by having an easy to navigate website and blog and start talking to people!
4. What did you use to create your website?
There are a ton of easy ways to create a website, and I went with the company Bludomain for mine. They’ve become even less expensive than when I got mine so there’s no reason not to have some kind of web presence.
whew. I’m not sure if that was helpful for anyone, but hopefully at least one person got something out of it. Let me know if I was way off base or what you thought and I look forward to hearing from you!

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