How to Start A Photo Editing Business in 2023

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

Are you a professional photographer passionate about capturing stunning photos and needing professional editors to enhance your edited images? Or are you skilled in photo editing and dreaming of starting your own business, catering to professional photographers and their need for high-quality, professional photos? Creating a photo editing business may be the perfect career path for you. Let our guide on how to start a photography editing business show you the path.

With the rise of social media, e-commerce, and online marketing, there is an increasing demand for high-quality and visually appealing images. This creates a massive opportunity for professional photographers with artistic talent and technical skills to offer their services to clients who want to enhance their digital presence.

Freelance photo editors can also establish a profitable photo editing business by providing expertise to those needing professional photo editing services.

Starting a photo editing business requires dedication, hard work, and strategic planning. You must develop your skills and expertise in photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

When starting, creating a business plan with your target market, pricing strategy, marketing tactics, and financial projections is key.

Additionally, before you start your business, you must set up your infrastructure by preparing the necessary tools and equipment. Ensure a stable internet connection, create a conducive workspace, and develop a budget for software licenses. Don’t forget about other costs that may arise during the startup phase. Finally, establish a streamlined workflow to ensure smooth operations.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps of starting a successful photo editing business that meets the needs of today’s fast-paced digital world. Whether you are a photographer looking to enhance your photos or an editor seeking to cater to the growing demand of photographers, our guide will help you establish a business that offers top-notch photo editing services.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing skills in photo editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom is crucial for professional photographers and editors to start a successful photography editing business. Joining online communities or attending workshops can help network and gain new insights. Taking an online course can also be helpful.
  • A solid business plan is critical to launching a lucrative photography and photo manipulation venture. This plan should identify the target market, pricing strategy, marketing tactics, and financial projections. Registering a professional business and obtaining the necessary licenses is crucial. Having exceptional editing skills is essential in providing high-quality photos for clients.
  • Developing a killer website and social media strategy is essential for photography editors to connect with potential clients and showcase their best photos to build the brand. The website should have clear calls to action for potential clients, and social media is critical for any photo editing business’s marketing strategy. Additionally, having a phone number prominently displayed on the website can make it easier for potential clients to contact the company.
  • Effective management is necessary for success in the competitive world of photo editing. Managing finances is crucial for informed pricing, marketing, and hiring decisions. Hiring experienced editors with a keen eye for detail and expertise in editing photos or related fields is essential for small business owners looking to start a photo editing business startup. Providing top-notch services is crucial for building a solid reputation.

Develop Your Skills and Expertise

Photo by James Scott

Aspiring editors running a business startup must start practicing and honing their editing skills to become professional photo editors. Practice consistently with photos and seek feedback to improve your craft as an editor.

Try different techniques, experiment with various styles, and learn from other professionals to improve your photo editing skills. Join online communities or attend workshops to network with other freelance photo editors and gain new insights that can help you create a profitable photo editing business. Collaborate with other photo editors to expand your knowledge and skill set.

An editor must stay up-to-date with current trends and technologies in photo editing and constantly improve their technical skills and experience editing.

With practice, attention to detail, and a passion for the craft, freelance photo editors can develop expertise that will set them apart from other professional photo editors in the industry. Private photo editors should also focus on honing their skills to stand out among photo editors.

Once you feel confident in your abilities as a professional photo editor, it’s time to create a business plan to help turn your hobby into a profitable enterprise. This plan should consider the needs of potential clients and how you can market your services to them. As one of the best photo editors in the industry, you can also consider offering private photo editor services for clients who require a more personalized touch.

Create a Business Plan

solid plan is vital to launching a lucrative venture in the photo manipulation industry as an editor. The plan should identify your target market and determine your pricing strategy as an editor. Who’ll be most interested in your editing services? What’ll you charge for editing or retouching as an editor? These essential questions need clear answers before you launch as an editor.

Your business plan should also include details about how you’ll market yourself, what equipment and software you’ll need, how you’ll handle finances, and which photo editors you’ll use. As a professional photo editor, carefully considering which software best suits your needs is essential.

A well-crafted business plan can help guide your decision-making as your company grows and evolves. With a clear roadmap, you’re setting up your business infrastructure and attracting clients eager to work with an innovative photo editor like yourself.

Photo by Andrew Neel

Register Your Business and Obtain Licenses

Once you’ve completed your research on licensing requirements, it’s time to register your photo editing business name and obtain the licenses to operate legally. You must choose the best structure for your entity; this could be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or something less familiar. This process can vary depending on where you live and the type of business structure you choose, but here are some general steps to follow:

  • Determine which licenses and permits you need as an editor. Depending on your location and services, you may need a general business license, a sales tax permit, or other specific licenses like an editing permit.
  • Register your photo editor business with the government. This involves choosing a name for your photo editor business, registering with the appropriate state or local agency, and obtaining an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS if necessary.
  • Get liability insurance as a photo editor. Liability insurance protects your photo editing business in case of accidents or lawsuits.
  • Keep track of deadlines and renewals for your photo editor. Many licenses for photo editors expire after a certain period and must be renewed regularly.
  • Consult with professionals as needed, including a photo editor. Feel free to contact an accountant or lawyer for guidance if you need clarification on any aspect of this process.

Now that you have all the legal requirements for a photo editor, it’s time to set up your workspace and equipment.

Set Up Your Workspace and Equipment

Creating a comfortable and efficient workspace, including the necessary photo editor, is crucial for your success as an entrepreneur, so let’s dive into setting up the equipment you’ll need.

First, consider the size of your workspace and how to organize it best. You’ll want enough room for a desk or table to work on and space for your computer, printer, scanner, and any other necessary equipment, such as a photo editor.

Next, make sure you maintain your photo editing equipment properly. That means regularly cleaning it to prevent dust buildup and potential damage. Additionally, take the time to learn about proper storage techniques for items such as memory cards and external hard drives used in photo editing.

You can streamline your photo editor editing process and maximize productivity by prioritizing workspace organization and equipment maintenance.

Now that everything is set up let’s develop your website, social media presence, and photo editor.

Choosing Your Target Market

Determining your target customer, including as a photo editor, is essential to any venture. Your target market could include product photographers, content producers, and social media influencers.

Here’s a guide to help you pinpoint your target customer:

  1. Clarify Your Offerings: Start by outlining the services you provide. Do you focus on retouching wedding images, product shots, real estate pictures, or individual portraits? The nature of your services will significantly shape your target customer.
  2. Recognize Your Interests: Which aspect of photo editing brings you the most joy? If you find pleasure in retouching wedding images, your target customer may be wedding photographers or engaged couples.
  3. Evaluate Your Expertise: What kind of photo editing are you excellent at? If you excel in product photo retouching, e-commerce businesses might be your target customers.
  4. Study Your Industry: Examine who currently requires your services. Are there specific sectors or individuals with a high demand for photo editing services? That could provide a hint about your potential target customer.
  5. Develop a Customer Persona: Construct a comprehensive customer persona after you’ve formed a rough idea of your target customer. That should encompass demographic data, their desires and requirements, their obstacles and issues, and where they usually seek services similar to yours.
  6. Probe Your Market: After identifying your target customer, evaluate your services in this market. It could mean offering a discount to your initial customers in return for their feedback. That will assist you in fine-tuning your services and gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs.
  7. Polish Your Customer Persona: Based on the feedback and experiences you gather from your first customers, polish your customer persona. It is a continuous process as you learn more about your customers and their requirements.

Keep in mind pinpointing your target customer isn’t a one-off task. It’s a process that you should regularly review and refine as your enterprise expands and matures.

Develop Your Pricing Rates

Several considerations can influence the rate for a photo editing job. Proficiency and experience play a role, with beginners often charging less compared to seasoned professionals with extensive portfolios. You can gradually raise your rates as you gain more experience and enhance your skills. The complexity of the job also matters. Basic tasks like adjusting colors or cropping could be priced lower than intricate edits like background removal, retouching, or photo restoration.

Some photo editors set their rates based on the time spent on a project. If a task is time-consuming, the overall cost will be higher. It’s also essential to investigate what other photo editors in your locality or your field of expertise are charging. That can provide a benchmark of what clients might be willing to pay. You can command higher rates if your edits are for high-stakes uses, like a nationwide advertising campaign.

Photo editors typically charge between $25 and $300 per hour, depending on these factors. Alternatively, some may charge per image, varying from $5 to $60 per image, again contingent on the work complexity and prevailing market rates. It’s essential to clearly outline your rates and the work scope before initiating a project to ensure you and your client share the exact expectations. Bear in mind that these rates can fluctuate significantly, and it’s crucial to research to establish the most effective pricing strategy for your services.

Develop Your Website and Social Media Presence

Now’s the time to amp up your online presence by developing a killer website and social media strategy to help you connect with potential clients and build your brand. If you’re a photo editor, this is especially important for showcasing your skills and attracting new clients.

When creating a website as a photo editor, make sure it’s easy to navigate and visually stunning. Your website should showcase your online portfolio with your best work and have clear calls to action for potential clients.

Consider starting a blog where you can share tips, tricks, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into your editing process as a photo editor. That can help establish you as an authority in the industry as a photo editor.

Social media is also critical to any photo editing business’s marketing strategy. Choose relevant platforms for your target audience and develop content engaging followers. Post regularly, use hashtags effectively, and interact with the community.

By building an active following on social media as a photo editor, you’ll increase your chances of attracting new clients who are already interested in your photo editing service.

When it comes to marketing your services as a photo editor, there are several strategies you can employ to get the word out about your business.

Market Your Photo Editing Services

As you step onto the stage of marketing your photo editing services, imagine yourself as a conductor leading a symphony orchestra – each note representing a unique selling point that’ll entice potential clients to choose you over competitors. Knowing your ideal client is a must.

One way to hit all the right notes is by collaborating with influencers on social media platforms in your niche. Reach out to photographers, models, and other industry professionals with a social media following. Offer them free editing services in exchange for shoutouts or reviews.

Another critical aspect of marketing your business is utilizing SEO strategies to ensure your website appears at the top of search engine results pages. That means researching keywords that potential clients might use when searching for photo editing services and incorporating them into your website’s content.

Also, consider running paid advertising campaigns through platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads to reach an even wider audience. By taking these steps, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new clients and building a solid reputation in the competitive world of photo editing.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to manage your business once those clients start rolling in.

Manage Your Business

Managing a successful photo editing venture involves more than just delivering high-quality results; it requires effective communicationstreamlined workflows, and a commitment to meeting clients’ needs.

You should have your systems and workflows in place from the first client.

One of the most critical aspects of managing your business is tracking your finances. You’ll need to keep accurate records of your income and expenses to make informed decisions about pricing, marketing, and hiring employees.

You must strategically find the right people for your team when hiring employees. Look for candidates with experience in photo editing or a related field, solid communication skills, and attention to detail.

Consider offering training programs or mentorship opportunities to help new hires develop their skills and feel invested in the success of your business.

Effective management strategies allow you to take your photo editing business to new heights while providing top-notch services that meet your clients’ needs.

Using Virtual Assistants to Grow and scale your Business

Utilizing a Virtual Assistant (VA) can be instrumental in scaling a photo editing business. As this type of business grows, administrative tasks, marketing activities, and client communication can become time-consuming, diverting attention from editing and improving photos.

A VA can manage these ancillary tasks, allowing the business owner time to focus on delivering high-quality work and creative innovation. In addition, a VA with expertise in social media or SEO can amplify the business’s online presence, helping to attract more clients.

By assisting with email management, scheduling, and customer service, a VA ensures a smooth client experience, fostering client satisfaction and repeat business. Thus, a VA is valuable in promoting efficiency, customer satisfaction, and growth in a photo editing business.

Companies like Time Etc. and Fiverr can help you with finding a VA to grow and handle more business!


Congratulations on taking the first step toward starting your own photo editing business! With a solid plan, you can turn your love for editing into a profitable career.

By developing your skills and expertise, creating a business plansetting up your infrastructure, marketing your services, and managing your business effectively, you can make your dream of being an entrepreneur a reality.

Starting a photo editing business requires hard work and dedication but can be incredibly financially and creatively rewarding. Remember that success does not happen overnight – building a client base and establishing yourself in the industry takes time and effort. However, following these steps and staying motivated to achieve your goals, you can create a thriving business. Good luck!

Watch this Lightroom Tutorial for some great Pro Tips:

Frequently Asked Questions

Photo editors typically charge between $25 and $300 per hour, depending on these factors. Alternatively, depending on the work complexity and prevailing market rates, some may charge per image, varying from $5 to $60 per image.

Canva: This platform is a graphic design tool with photo editing capabilities. You can modify elements like brightness, contrast, and saturation, and it also offers various filters and effects.

Pixlr: Pixlr provides a broad selection of editing tools. It comes in two versions: Pixlr X for simple edits and Pixlr E for more complex edits. It’s an excellent tool if you’re accustomed to professional software like Photoshop.

Fotor: This photo editing platform provides various tools for editing and retouching photos. It also has features for creating collages and designs.

Photopea: This is an advanced online editor that supports PSD, XCF, Sketch, XD, and CDR formats. It’s an excellent free substitute for Adobe Photoshop.

BeFunky: BeFunky is a solution for photo editing and graphic design. It offers a variety of tools for adjusting photos and creating visual design elements.

Adobe Express: This is a free online and mobile graphic design application. It allows you to create social media graphics, web pages, and short videos effortlessly.

While these tools are free, some offer premium features requiring a subscription. Always ensure to review the terms of use before you begin editing.

The list includes registering your business and obtaining necessary licenses from your state and county. Don’t let legal hurdles hinder your creative innovation.

In the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), a photo editing business is generally classified under code 541920, denoting “Photographic Services.” This classification covers firms providing a range of photographic services. However, the specific code may change depending on the exact services your business offers. For example, different regulations may be more applicable if your business also deals with photo development. You are choosing the code that best aligns with your business activities.

Determine your pricing for photo editing services by researching the market and identifying your unique value proposition. Consider pricing strategies such as hourly rates, per-project fees, or subscription models to ensure profitability and competitiveness in the industry.

Thinking that pricing strategies and client management are unnecessary is a common mistake when starting a photo editing business. But hey, why bother with earning money and keeping clients happy?

Listening actively and clarifying expectations are essential when communicating with clients about their photo editing needs. Use precise language and provide examples to ensure understanding. Regular check-ins and feedback are fundamental communication techniques for successful outcomes.

Draw attention with a camera shutter symbol. To market your photo editing business, use social media advertising and referral programs to attract clients. Stay professional and informative while engaging an audience craving innovation.

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