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Making a living

View Poll Results: Can you make a living doing photo restoration?
Yes, I'm already doing that very thing 15 10.20%
Yes, I plan on doing that very thing 31 21.09%
Maybe, but I'd need a lot more jobs 75 51.02%
Can't be done, but it's still fun 26 17.69%
Voters: 147. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 08-09-2001, 07:57 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Making a living

If you tried, could you make a fulltime living from photo restoration?
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  #2  
Old 08-09-2001, 09:19 PM
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Without a doubt, if I really put my mind to it, in time I could make a living doing restorations. But that's not in the plans at all. I'm a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, you can get it, at least in our country.

Ed
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Old 08-09-2001, 09:57 PM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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I tend to agree with Ed. The main thing to consider is how large an area you have to draw customers from and can that customer base afford the price one must charge to make a living. I suspect that reprinting from scans would also be a part of a "Restore" business. I am retired and live in a rather remote area with a very limited population yet I am able to do enough business to afford new toys now and again, so I suspect that if a person had the ambition and desire and lived in a more populated area, they could probably make a "go of it". Tom
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Old 08-29-2001, 08:25 PM
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I have used ofoto.com for getting digital photographic prints made and been happy with their quality and turn-around time as well. I hadn't heard of printroom.com, but will certainly check them out. Ofoto looks a little more expensive ($3.99 for an 8x10), but also offers 16x20" or 20x30" sizes. (I haven't ordered any of those, so don't know how the quality is on the larger ones or how they're shipped.) Just thought I'd throw in another possibility for printing.

Also, as for help getting a business started, here in CO we have the Small Business Development Center which gives cheap ($35) workshops on everything from Business Planning to Marketing on the Internet to Taxes and Recordkeeping to Small Business Marketing. I've taken a few (in a previous incarnation) and found them to be very informative. I don't know if other states have anything similar, but you might want to check into it.

Also, the U.S. Small Business Administration has a ton of information on a wide variety of topics, e.g. the business plan.

Oh, I almost forgot the main topic of the thread: I sure HOPE I can make this a full-time business! I've been searching for a way to work from home and this certainly seems ideal to me. But, I haven't made a business plan yet and I feel like I need a lot more knowledge and practice before I start really marketing myself. So, I have only dreams to work towards so far.

Jeanie
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Old 05-03-2002, 12:21 PM
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I'm unrepentently insecure, so I sometimes think people don't read older threads. This is one I particularly want everyone to participate in, so I'm bumping it.
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Old 05-03-2002, 02:17 PM
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I voted maybe. I live in an area with a large population...I just have a hard time marketing myself. I'm not much of a "sales type", so I would probably need someone helping me with the marketing end of things. I have been pretty busy lately with one large job and a few smaller ones, but it's in no way enough work to make a living, although I only started a few months ago with actually trying to make some money off of restorations.

Finding the work is a very different challenge from what a freelance graphic designer would go through. In that business, most of your clients are businesses or ad agencies and they become repeat customers if they like your work. For photo restoration the clients are generally individuals (unless you can get work through a museum or insurance agency), so you have to market yourself a bit differently.

I'm not really sure what the best way to go about doing that is yet...maybe we could look at what other "freelance" types do. I once knew a woman who made a living making wedding cakes out of her home and she got all of her business via word of mouth!
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Old 05-03-2002, 03:24 PM
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I think this is a good thread, and to keep it going, I'll add my two pennies again. I think that any reasonably intelligent person can make it. If you try, and can't make it, you need to find out where your shortcomings are. If you need to be a better salesman, find a way to get educated about selling. If you just aren't good enough with Photoshop (or whatever), pur the time in to get better. Target your shortcomings, then work on them. When I took a professional photography course (not cheap), I remember one of the instructors saying "Do you think education is expensive? Try being uneducated". That saying stuck with me, and I fully believe it.

Ed
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Old 05-03-2002, 09:33 PM
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Ed - I think you are right about targeting shortcomings... I have no problem with Photoshop but I don't seem to have a saleman's bone in my body! I think most of that stems from fear. I'm not a real outgoing person by nature so I should spend some time overcoming that and learning some selling techniques.

I guess once you can start getting your foot in the door the work, if it's good, will sell itself in a lot of ways.
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Old 05-03-2002, 11:18 PM
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I feel that there is a living to be made from restoration but I too suffer the same problem. I' not good at promoting myself. I've done quite well out of it so far but would love it to become fulltime. I've had enough work to keep me pretty busy lately but I've almost completed all the jobs I have and don't know when the next one will come in. I just have to complete that composite photo of the two girls and their mother (another thread) and I'm out of work for now.
I've just added a new product,well I really should say am in the process of adding an new product to my business. I made a prototype CD clock with a photo on it, a customer happened to see it when she was picking up another job. She asked about the clock and liked it so much she ordered two then and there, even before I had worked out the pricing or any details for them. I didn't make much profit on the clocks but now I know what to charge in the future. So it looks like I may have found a way of using all those old demo CD after all. hehehe
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Old 05-04-2002, 07:05 AM
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Since I hack at restoration as a hobby, I can't speak from actual business experience, but I'll toss in my .02 because this is an interesting subject.

A "full-time living" is a relative term.

There's a pretty big gap between eeking it out (just barely getting by) and living comfortably. A lot, too, would depend on lifestyle, dependents, location, etc. So I guess my copout reply to the $64 question would be, "It depends."

Doing a quick scan of the Seattle area yellow pages, it appears photo restoration (in my area) is offered in conjunction with other services. That might be an indicator right there...Unlike the local grocery stores that have a captive audience (people have to eat), there isn't the same "need" for restoration work.

As others have stated the challenge of "getting ongoing new business" is not trivial, not just from the perspective of developing and implementing effective sales and marketing skills, but from a time perspective as well.

If I had to make a living at restoration (only), I don't feel confident that I'd be able to do so w/o offering other services as well. That said here's a couple thoughts on how I might approach "getting business."

Though you can't beat word-of-mouth referrals, there's nothing like a potential client source that continually renews itself. I'd make a run at somehow getting my foot in the door with local public and private schools for contract photo work (traditional school pictures) or specialty stuff like proms or graduation pics, etc.

Doing a little pro bono work for churches might provide opportunities to market to congregations.

Plugging into the "newborn" market would seem to be another potential source for ongoing business.

Hanging out at local events (sports, theater, classy restaurants, whatever) and taking 'complimentary' pictures of couples, buddies, etc. might be an effective way to market. Most people like having their pics taken... When you get names/addresses for mailing the 'complimentary pics,' this provides marketing opportunites.

Doing something similar (with preapproval from parents) at local soccer fields or ballparks (taking pics of kids "in action," not just the cheesy sitdown or team shots) is probably something parents would pay for and, again, would provide additional restoration marketing opportunites.

Now that you've read this far, you know why I actually DON'T DO restoration as a full-time business! My compliments to those who do. Isn't great to do something you truly enjoy!

~DannyR~
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