How Much Can I Make Running a Photo Booth Business?

by Ryan on January 19, 2014

famous-web-ad-300x250This is probably the most asked questions when it comes to starting a photo booth business, so I’ll do my best to explain with a few basic scenarios. The sky is the limit if you decide to operate your booth operation as a large scale business with employees, but if you decide to just do this as a side hustle, it’ll be capped.

Before we get into seeing how much you can make, let’s consider a few things first. The amount you can charge is dictated largely by the market you’re in. I’m in a mid size market so prices range from $500-$1000 for a booth rental. If you’re in Manhattan or Downtown Chicago, the booth cost will be higher.

In my earlier post discussing how to start a photo booth business, I discussed that variable expenses per event were roughly $100 per event if you work the event yourself.

That means if you book an event for $700, then $600 is left after variable expenses, assuming the booth is paid for. In the scenarios below we’ll use this $600 as an average profit per event, but please take it with a grain of salt.

An average event length is roughly four hours, with set up and tear down time of two hours total, meaning you put in six hours (transportation time could be added to, but varies quite a bit). So if you profit $600 for an event, and are working for six, your per hour profit is approximately $100 an hour.

So let’s use a few scenarios to see roughly how much you can make running a photo booth business.

**These scenarios are only considering working the weekends, because in my experience, the vast majority of events booked are on the weekends, and weekday events are not very common.

Scenario 1 – You Running One Booth Part-Time on the Weekends.
Let’s pretend that you simply work summers running a photo booth on the weekends and do all the work yourself. If you work half the year that leaves you 26 weekends, which is 26 Fridays and 26 Saturdays.

Assuming you’re able to book all of those 26 weekends, both nights, that means you’ll make $600 x 52, which is $31,200 working weekends half the year. Not bad for a side hustle, especially if you don’t have to travel far to your events, which increases your gas cost and time invested. If you could book a whole year of weekends straight, your max income would be about $62,000, which is great for just a weekend gig.

Some expenses like insurance, and vehicle wear and tear would also be deducted from this total. Working that many weekends may also burn you out, especially if you are also working full time during the week (which I do as well).

Scenario 2 – You Run Multiple Booths and Hire Employees
Let’s pretend that instead of just $100 in variable costs, you now have to hire someone $100 per event as well. That means you profit goes from $600 to $500, and you need a way to transport the booths. Is the employee going to do this, and if they are, who’s vehicle are they going to use, and how will it be insured? This may make the employee cost go up.

In any case we’ll assume you can clear $500 an event with an employee.

If you have two booths up and running and hire employees to work all events, that means if you follow the previous scenario and book half the year (26 weekends) both Friday and Saturdays with both booths, you could be pulling in $52,000. Likewise if you double booked every Friday and Saturday Night for all 52 weekends, you could be pushing $100,000+

To make $100,000 profit running photo booths you’re going to have to most likely book over 150 events and have employees added to your business. There are also shadow costs which include the time it takes to book events. If you need to book 150 events in a year and you have an amazing conversion rate from website or phone leads, say of 20%, that means you still have to talk about photo booths to 750 people. If an average email or phone conversation lasts 5 minutes that’s 3,750 minutes (5 minutes x 750 leads), or approximately 62 hours.

As you may already be well aware, you’ll also be spending a lot more than five minutes discussing your photo booth with many brides who book with you, so be prepared to consider the shadow cost of all the time you’ll need to spend discussing, planning, and selling your photo booth to get enough bookings to make $100,000+.

If you want to make more money in this business you’ll need to either find ways to charge more than my example, or cut your costs even lower. My scenarios are simply just starting points to give you a rough estimate of the possibilities.

Of the two scenarios above, I’m closer to scenario one in that I simply do it part-time on the weekends, without a desire to create a big complicated business as I also have other endeavors. It’s simply nice to make an extra thousand dollars in a weekend in the summer without having to do working that is overly challenging and can be entertaining.

*Keep in mind that all the estimates and numbers used in these examples are gross, in that they are pre-tax. You will need to claim all your small business income, which then effect how much your actual profit amounts will be.

What are your experiences with running a photo booth business in terms of profitability and how much they can make? Do you think it’s worth it?


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