Once upon a time, I was a part-time photographer whilst I also had a full-time career in IT. It was all above board and I was registered with HMRC and paid my taxes. But, in the wedding photography industry, there was some hostility. This hostility was towards us, part-timers. Sometimes it was clearly because full-time photographers though we were taking their business. Other times it seemed more than professional photographer thought part-timers were less capable. Does this mindset carry through to blogging?
My story with photography
The introduction of the DLSR camera brought about a step-change in the photography industry. Gone was the need for darkroom processing skills on top of being a great photographer. Now, any Tom, Dick or Harry could buy a DLSR and start photographs – and what’s more, they could start working as a paid photographer. That’s what I did (although my name is Dave – not Tom, Dick or Harry).
It’s not that I bought the camera and immediately start selling my services though. I spent some time honing my skills and learning the art. I became a self-taught student, using all the resources I could to get better. Initially, I had no thoughts about paid work. I started working in family portraiture before advancing to weddings. I loved it, really, really loved it. But I couldn’t give up my day job – that paid the mortgage and the bills. To make photography my full-time job would have required quitting my job in IT.
It was a catch-22 situation. I couldn’t afford to give up the job in IT as the photography wasn’t earning enough. To make the photography work I needed more time – time I couldn’t give it as I had a full-time job. When a new job in IT, new life, and new home came up I chose that and gave up paid photography. That was four-and-a-half years ago now.
The negativity towards part-timers
I joined numerous forums full of photographers. Most people were fine, but there was always a vocal section who voiced their disapproval of part-timers. It was frustrating as I was just as professional as those working full-time. I was good at it, I was insured, I charged a fair price, I used contracts, and most importantly I cared. So why the negativity?
Fear. That for me is what it was. Many of the professionals spouting the negativity had been doing it for years and made an excellent living from it. I believe they were scared of the new world and the challenge of the influx of new photographers. Of course, part-timers could charge less as they had a day job and thus undercut the pros, I didn’t do that though. But I felt that too.
Once I had been established for a few years I was losing work to newcomers undercutting my prices. I held firm though. Some were charging as little as £200 for a full day of photography at a wedding, including editing and all the photos on a disk. I wasn’t prepared to compete with that as my time was worth far more.
What about blogging
I’ve been blogging for a while now. In fact, in many ways, I’ve been blogging for years. But only recently have I started to make a little money from it. It’s not much, but it covers the costs of the website and has paid for a foreign exchange trip for G. But it’s not my primary income source as it is for many bloggers. So how do they feel about us part-timers coming along and taking their opportunities?
Honestly, I’ve never felt that the kind of negativity I experienced in photography exists in blogging. The blogger community has always been exceptionally supportive and kind. But there are certainly similarities with photography.
Just as the availability of professional level cameras in photography brought about an influx of new photographers, the availability of quality blogging platforms like WordPress has brought an influx of new bloggers. That being said, I would hope that anyone starting a blog doesn’t immediately think they are going to make money from it – I certainly didn’t. In fact, the thought never entered my head.
I started blogging as a hobby and way of expressing myself. Yes, I am happy to make a small amount of money on the side (who wouldn’t be?) but it’s not my priority. But I was intrigued what bloggers who make their living from it thought – so I asked some of them.
What full-time bloggers think
I don’t see this as being a problem, as long as they are declaring the income to the tax man. People can be too judgmental in blogging.
— Mellissa Williams Luxe Lifestyle & Travel Blogger (@melandjake99) December 14, 2018
You get part- time journalists, photographers, accountants etc. So why not pt/ft/hobby bloggers? The only difference being there’s no reputable trade body to represent bloggers so it’s a bit like the Wild West.
— John Adams (@dadbloguk) December 14, 2018
Kirsty (themoneysavingmum.com): If they can handle the stress then good on them I’m very jealous!
Kate (katykicker.com): I think good for them! Any way that people can make extra income for their family is fantastic. All the plate spinning of family life can feel like hard work so I applaud someone who is running a blog that earns an income and has another career too!
Tom (www.diaryofthedad.co.uk): Yes, fair play to them! It’s what I used to do before blogging full time – the money I made from blogging was a nice added extra and it wasn’t too much of a stress. Mind you, that was over three years ago and brands/PRs have become a lot more demanding so I probably would find it challenging if I were in that situation now.
David (davidanddonnetta.co.uk): There’s enough work for everyone to get theirs. I don’t care what anyone else is achieving, in the nicest way, I want everyone to win. Others don’t win at your expense, there’s enough internet for everyone.
That little snapshot tells me all I need to know. Bloggers are a friendly bunch who not only help and support each other but embrace newcomers too. Really, the photography world could learn a lot from us bloggers!
Thanks for reading.