Start a photo booth business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your photo booth business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a photo booth business?
Fortunately, a photo booth business isn’t expensive to start. In fact, you can build one for about $5,000 if you’re economical and handy. While the booth, camera, and equipment aren’t too expensive, you’ll need to invest in powerful hardware and software. A solid booth will be about $2,500 and can be disassembled. A basic camera, meanwhile, is about $500. As you upgrade, however, consider purchasing better lenses—or a better camera. A laptop can be purchased for $360, and basic software like DSLR Remote Pro is purchasable for $175. Other supplies, like a printer, props, and other supplies tend to be rather cheap.
What are the ongoing expenses for a photo booth business?
Your expenses won’t be much. Maintenance and camera upkeep are cheap, sometimes being as little as $50 per month. You will also have to pay for the gas you use to travel to events. Drive a fuel efficient car and make sure you’re planning your trips close to one another.
Who is the target market?
Look for patrons at any special event. The more exclusive the event, the better business it will be. Weddings, V.I.P areas, grand openings, and special guest visits are ideal. Event-goers will use a photo booth if there’s a reason to document the event. Check out your area’s local events, and talk to event coordinators.
How does a photo booth business make money?
A photo booth business makes money on a per-shot basis. You can charge event-goers for digital or printed versions. Additionally, you can offer photo packages to entice additional purchases. Rarely do photo booth businesses make money elsewhere. Because social media is free, charging extra money for social-media-related posts or services is generally a bad idea.
How much can you charge customers?
You can charge customers about $20 per photo. If your booth is extravagant, consider increasing the price. Some photo booths charge up to $50 per photo, if the event is unforgettable enough to warrant it. If you’re working for a venue, expect to make between $30 and $100 for your services.
How much profit can a photo booth business make?
Photo booths typically make about $35,000 per year. This depends on the area, however, as high-traffic locations are often more popular. Thus, high-traffic locations are more profitable.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Work on weekends. Don’t be afraid to reach out to local venues, either. Once you get a photo booth up and running, you can pay off the bills quickly. Don’t be afraid to expand out of your market, either, and focus on turning a profit as much as possible.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Photo Booth Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your photo booth business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
In most states, it is necessary to obtain a business license. Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a photo booth business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market a photo booth business
Photo booth promotion isn’t hard, but it’s certainly particular. You’ll need to promote to hotels, venues, and wedding organizers. If you can partner with individual providers, you can advertise through them. Create a Facebook page, and use video marketing on Youtube. Having a Flickr account doesn’t hurt, nor does having a Wedding Wire and Yelp account. A lot of your advertisements will be online.
How to keep customers coming back
Attract customers by setting up your booth in a high-traffic area. If you’re visiting a wedding, set up shop near the refreshment area. It’s a good idea to be noninvasive while also being in an attractive, much-traveled area. Offer great discounts with Groupon, and don’t forget about Google Adwords Paid Advertising to create a pay-per-click campaign.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start A Photo Booth Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
The photo booth business is perfect for any person who likes photography. Whether you’re a photographer, a framer, a painter or simply love taking pictures of others, you can establish a photo booth business to give customers the chance to take their own pictures. Operating a photo booth does take some familiarity with camera settings like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. The ideal photo booth business owner will also have a solid software foundation. It takes time to hook everything up, but it’s certainly worth the effort when customers are satisfied.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a photo booth business?
A photo booth business owner needs to select an effective, attractive, and engaging photo booth style. They’re responsible for moving the photo booth from location to location. Depending on the event, a booth’s interior may need to be changed. A photo booth business must also maintain professional equipment. Light modifiers, camera peripherals, backdrops and studio strokes must be maintained. If you’re using studio-style booths, it can get expensive. For this reason, a photo booth business operator needs to print post-event advertisements.
From a financial standpoint, a photo booth operator needs to budget effectively. It pays off to have a firm grasp on expenses. When a photo booth business owner isn’t doing direct business, they’re often finding new events, new venues and new photo booth opportunities.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful photo booth business?
Having a good eye for photography is a must. If you can, talk to another photo booth business owner. Because photo booths are particular, lighting and angle-wise, you’ll need plenty advice about capturing photogenic angles. Having a knack for online marketing and cold calling, too, is important. Because photo booth businesses typically seek out venues and events, understanding the basics behind seasonal events, party hours, and nightlife can certainly help.
What is the growth potential for a photo booth business?
A successful photo booth can become a preferred provider in its area. Because photo booth business owners have incredible flexibility, it isn’t hard to target an area’s most popular areas. That said, a smart photo booth business operator is one who targets opportunities without driving up expenses.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a photo booth business?
Build slowly. Too many photo booth business owners invest in overpowered cameras, over-hyped equipment, and luxurious backdrops. Keep the expenses low, and practice shooting. Also, drive to nearby events before traveling across the state. As a solo operator, you’ll need to pack in as many events as possible. Give your event-goers plenty of photo options, and make sure your booth is paid off relatively early.
How and when to build a team
Fortunately, you can operate a photo booth single handedly. You’ll need to invest in a partner eventually, however. Photo booth operation isn’t difficult, but it can take time to process taken photos. As a provider, you’ll make more money by servicing more guests. If you can increase the traffic speed by having a partner—or several—you should expand immediately.