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I had a chance to interview Janine Memon, the owner of Country Mom City Mom, who gives us a little bit of insight into how she has been able to build a successful wall art business. She’s able to run her business while working a full-time job and raising her family!
If you have ever been interested is using your photography skills as a side hustle, Janine shares some tips for scaling your business and balancing work with mom life.
Check out the interview for more information on how to make money as a photographer and turn your passion into profit.
Here’s How Janine Makes Money Selling her Wall Art for Income:
1. Can you share your story and tell us how you got started with your photography/art business?
I think my story starts similarly to many working moms. I wasn’t happy in my work environment. I was working on a trading floor for a mid-sized Wall Street firm, and even though I was in technology, trading floors can still be stressful environments. I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace, especially with children.
I started my photography business as a newborn and family photographer. For 10 years, I had a studio and a wonderful business before I transitioned to fine art. While I loved capturing families and children, the job can be hard on the body! When I switched to florals and landscapes, I realized I was still able to do what I loved but the slower pace suited me much better.
2. What kind of training do people need to do what you do?
I was a self-taught photographer before YouTube so I don’t necessarily believe you need training to be a good photographer. I do think it’s important to learn Photoshop and know how to shoot your camera in manual mode. I also think it’s imperative to understand how to run a business legally, to know what your cost of goods are so you can price for profit, and be able to produce high-quality, consistent work.
There are a lot of photographers out there, and you really want to separate yourself from the pack. Producing high-quality work is the best way to do this.
3. Can anyone do this?
I’m not sure anyone can do this. I think you have to really have a strong creative side, a good eye and focus for sure. Selling art is not for the faint of heart. It takes work to find your target market, to be consistently creative and to know how to price yourself so that your work sells and you can be profitable.
4. How do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere! I love capturing the world around me. I live in the country so much of my art is focused around where I live, which is why you’ll see a lot of rustic elements like old barns and beautiful florals. I also love the energy of the city, and since I live so close to NYC, I travel there often for inspiration. I truly feel the world is an amazing place, and sometimes you just need to look around you with the eye of an artist to see the beauty in the day to day.
5. What does a typical day look like balancing your business with daily life?
I am an early riser so that really helps me to get organized. I juggle 2 kids, an art business, freelance web design, and a full-time job so there are days where I feel completely overwhelmed. I try my best to keep on a good schedule, but it doesn’t always work. I set aside time in the morning before I leave to create my social media posts. I’ll also work on editing or order submissions in the morning.
On my way to work, I listen to lot of different business podcasts — I’ve gotten some great ideas from podcasts, and they help keep me motivated. On the weekend, I’ll work on blog posts or go out to take pictures depending on the time of year. In between, I’m usually at a soccer game or driving to some activity for my children.
6. What is the easiest platform to sell your products on?
I think Etsy is definitely the easiest. The startup costs are zero, and they offer a lot of assistance to new sellers. The downside is that there are so many storefronts that it’s really hard for new sellers to show up on the first page. It took me almost six months to make my first sale there. I use Amazon as well, and while I know people have had some great success, I just haven’t been able to get the hang of their platform.
7. What do you love about making money this way?
I think it’s incredible to be able to make money from something you love so much. I love everything about creating art – capturing new work is an almost meditative process for me, and the fact that I can make money doing it is an amazing bonus.
8. Is this business scalable (ie can you start part-time and go full-time)?
It’s certainly scalable from a production standpoint. Creating prints from existing work is a straightforward process, and once you have your workflow down, it moves fast. I’m not sure the business is scalable from an income perspective – meaning I’m not sure I can make a full-time income as an artist. I think I will always need to supplement with something else to make full-time income. Since I love creating new businesses, it works for me.
9. What specific steps does someone need to take to get started in their own photography/art business?
Assuming you have a solid foundation as a photographer, your first step would be organizing and editing your work so it’s ready for sale. That was tough for me at first and still is. Once your portfolio is complete, you will need to know how to price your prints. This can be dependent on the printer you use. Many artists print themselves to reduce costs, but I source from a few different printers.
You will also need to know what products you’d like to offer (framed or unframed prints, gallery wrapped canvas, giclee, wood prints) and what your costs are on these, shipping included. Shipping costs for small businesses can be high, but since people have become so used to free shipping, I offer it and factor shipping costs into the final price.
Finally, deciding on a selling platform (I use Etsy and Squarespace) and choosing a name/branding should all be done before you launch. Once you’ve completed these steps, you can begin creating your site, uploading your work, and marketing your art!
10. Any tips for people who want to do what you do?
Have patience! It takes a while to find a market. Selling art can be so much different than selling products or other crafts, but the upside is tremendous. There’s nothing like selling your first piece, seeing it on someone’s wall and knowing it will be loved for a long time.
Did you enjoy this interview with Janine from Country Mom City Mom? Have you been thinking about turning your own passion for photography into a business?
Janine is a NJ based fine art photographer with a love for capturing the diverse beauty of the world. Before beginning her art career, she worked in technology supporting Wall Street trading desks. In addition to her art shop, she is currently employed as a project manager for a small software firm.
Janine lives in the country and many of her rustic, floral images were captured near her home. She sells her art through her website: Country Mom City Mom and an Etsy storefront. When not taking pictures, you can usually find her at her children’s soccer games or enjoying a much needed afternoon stroll through downtown NYC.