How to Succeed at Home Photo Retouching

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Assortment of beautiful photos on tablet
Assortment of beautiful photos on tablet (Image: Marek Uliasz/iStock/Getty Images)

Photo retouching services are often required to correct both minor and major problems in a picture. Workers who specialize in retouching photos are often self-employed and may work within the home or out of a rented office space. Proper set-up of the business from the beginning is essential for proper tax compliance. Photo retouching businesses require numerous clients to become profitable, so the larger portion of this work-at-home business involves recruiting and retaining a customer base.

Contact your state's revenue department to inquire about state tax requirements on services. Service tax law varies from state to state. Some states do not tax services without a tangible end product whereas others consider a digital image taxable.

Obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS. If you earn more than $600 from any one client during the tax filing year, you must provide him with a TIN. The client must then submit a 1099-MISC form that reports the total amount paid to you within the filing year to both you and the IRS.

Obtain software for retouching photographs and restoring pictures. Verify that your computer is capable of running the software. If you already own software for photo retouching, make sure i's fully functional and efficient.

Launch a website highlighting previous retouching projects. Obtain permission before posting promotional pictures of former clients. Offer a discount for future services as an incentive for a former customer to grant permission and to encourage repeat business.

Place buttons for online checkout services on your website. If a customer prefers to pay with a credit card, point her to the website for payment processing. You may want to charge an additional fee for payments processed online to offset the transaction fees charged by checkout services.

Start social media accounts for your business on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Even if you do not plan to use the accounts immediately, secure your name for potential future use.

Call local photo retouching businesses and request price quotes. Price your services according to the average prices charged in your local area. Consider offering a "base package" of retouching services that are easily completed, such as skin tone correction and wrinkle reduction, at a low rate to pull in clients and attempt to up-sell additional retouches such as background alterations or realistic-looking figure reductions.

Create a fact sheet explaining how to scan and email an image at the proper resolution for retouching for clients who prefer to retain original photos. A fact sheet or frequently asked questions page on your website should detail, in simple terms, everything a client needs to know.

Ask friends and family members for support and offer discounted photo retouching services in exchange for word-of-mouth promotion. Offer additional discounts or services for returning customers who refer new customers, which motivates your initial client base while consistently expanding your business's reach.

Submit watermarked proofs or thumbnails to your client for final approval to ensure proper compensation for your work. When a customer receives the finished product, the incentive to pay for it lessens. Do not deliver a finished image until final payment has been received.

Pick a method of image delivery. Email attachments, photo CDs, web downloads and drop-shipped prints are convenient methods of photo delivery that do not increase traffic in and out of your home. Consider offering multiple delivery methods to suit as many customer needs as possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • Upfront payment or a partial upfront payment for photo retouching work is also a common practice, especially for detailed, time-intensive projects. Pick the payment method that works best for your business.

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