logo-beyondx.png

When Is It Time to Buy?

Alright, fair warning: If you know me, you know what I’m about to write is a little hypocritical compared to my typical spending habits. Haha.


I get asked these types of questions a fair amount: When do I need to upgrade my website/camera/lens? Should I buy this new fancy piece of equipment I just found? Do I need to buy a lighting kit? At what point should I rent my own studio space?


I always stress to people who are debating making a large purchase that they should not buy on an impulse. There are a few steps I go through in my head to see if a purchase is logical for my business before deciding to buy, the first being:


The reason for making your purchase should outweigh the money that you’re spending on the purchase.

Let’s talk about how I made the decision to purchase a photo session booking platform for clients to use. For years, I had just communicated with clients over text or email or phone calls. This worked great while I was starting out. It was free, and I wasn’t going to pay for a booking service when I was barely receiving bookings yet. Then, as time went on, I was having phone calls every day with clients who were asking to book. I soon figured out that phone calls were the worst because after the phone was hung up, there was no record of the conversation.


Having no written confirmation led to mass confusion between my clients and myself, so I began communicating with all clients over written platforms only. Problem solved, right? Well, not too long after that my phone was buzzing 24/7. The notifications were driving me crazy! I was having so many conversations at once between text and email and facebook messenger and any other messaging app you can think of. I was so stressed by all of the scattered communication happening across platforms. Every time the phone would ding, I found myself tensing up.


At this point, it made sense for me to start paying for a booking service. I was making a good amount of money each month, booking over 5 sessions every week, sometimes going well over 20 sessions a month. Paying a few hundred dollars per year to have that problem solved was well worth it to me. The money I was about to pay for a booking platform outweighed the stress I was being caused and the time I was spending communicating back and forth with clients. I couldn’t say the same if I had purchased this right when I was starting out. There was no issue to be solved at the time.


Now, all of my client communication is centralized, so there is no more checking every app to find the one conversation with a client. My booking form is set up to gather all of the information I need about my client at the time they book. That way, if I can’t remember something like the school that one of my seniors attends, I know exactly where to find that information! It is such a time saver not to be scrolling back through every conversation to find a tiny detail about someone. I was so relieved when all of my problems that had built up overtime disappeared after switching to a booking platform!


I probably should have switched over a little earlier than I did, but I didn’t have a great concept of how high my stress tolerance should be at the time. My tolerance for stress was way higher than it should’ve been. It took me a long time to realize the stress I was being caused was even a problem and not just something I had to work through.


You should be solving a problem with a new purchase.

When I started out, there were no issues with the way I handled things. I had the time on my hands to be able to converse with clients, so there was no pressing reason for me to invest money into this platform yet. Why not do it anyway, just because it’s nice to have? Well, if the free or cheap alternative is working for you just fine, don’t spend the money until you feel like it isn’t working anymore. Save as much money as you can for as long as you can. As your business grows, your methods have to grow with it and your purchases will become more expensive. You’ll be glad you saved when you could!


What about the purchases that don’t necessarily solve a problem? Take a lens for example. It’s one of the things that you can and have been dealing without, but it would be nice to have.


The money this new purchase will bring you should exceed the money that you’re currently making with what you own.

Will buying the new lens allow you to start offering a photography package to a new type of client, creating a new income stream for you? Will the lens increase the look and quality of your work, allowing you to increase your current prices? Make sure this new purchase will positively affect your income. It doesn’t make sense for you to spend so much money on something that brings in no new value, no matter how cool it is.


This same point can be transferred over to a lot of different things like, for example, renting a studio space or having any other type of monthly recurring cost. I would strongly recommend not renting something that you cannot already cover in your overhead costs. Buying something you can’t afford at the chance it will make you money is never a good idea. But, if you do have to take this risk I would recommend already being able to cover that cost from month to month in case whatever you chose to buy isn’t making money like you expected. So, for recurring monthly costs like a studio rental, use what you already own to build your monthly income up to the point where you could afford to pay for it already. Then go for it, that way there isn’t as much stress being caused by trying to come up with the cash each month.


A new purchase should be earned by building up savings with the current equipment owned.

For one-time purchases like that lens, I always recommend saving up to pay in full so you will have no debt resulting in the purchase. Again, we are creating a safety net in case the money you thought that product would earn you does not follow through as expected.


Remember earlier when I said to hold out on those changes that will cost you money you don’t need to be spending right away? Here’s where that comes into play! Now, you can treat yourself with the money you saved.


For these purchases that aren’t of immediate need, I also recommend waiting until you can find them on sale. You might have finally hit that saving goal you have been working at for months, but if you know the item you are buying is popular or coming from a well-known brand, wait. There are always sales on equipment from popular camera brands.


If you can wait to buy until an upcoming holiday or sale, you should save the money.

It’s hard to fight the urge and excitement that comes with finally having enough money for that piece of equipment you’ve been dying for. Trust me, I know. But there are sales for everything nowadays. Literally everything. I was getting Groundhog Day coupons the other day in the mail. If you are buying from a camera store that you know frequently offers discounts or promo codes, take advantage of them! Even 5% off is a lot when you are buying something worth thousands of dollars. Also, don’t sleep on the B&H Student discounts if that applies to you!


So, to recap all of that, here are my five biggest tips for deciding whether to buy!

  1. The reason for making your purchase should outweigh the money that you’re spending on the purchase.

  2. You should be solving a problem with a new purchase.

  3. The money this new purchase will bring you should exceed the money that you’re currently making with what you own.

  4. A new purchase should be earned by building up savings with the current equipment owned.

  5. If you can wait to buy until an upcoming holiday or sale, you should save the money.


Of course, these are only guidelines and things that I have found to be successful for myself. They might not work for you, and that’s okay. It’s also not practical to check every single one of these boxes when you go and buy something new, but the more the better! Remembering these five things has helped me to avoid buying unnecessary items and wasting money on things that do not add value to my business. I hope you can use these to double check yourself the next time you’re considering a big purchase.


9 views0 comments