There’s an old saying that being an artist is a great way to earn a living as long as you don’t starve to death first. Owning your own virtual tour business is a 100% commission deal. You only get paid if you get someone to buy your virtual tour & professional photography services. This can be frustrating for someone who has great technical skills and is a great photographer. It was the same when I was in the financial services world – the most technically proficient and skilled planners were often the worst salespeople and were shocked that no one wanted to use their services.
At our vacation rental photography business, we have a clearly defined business model that works well for us. Our primary focus is healthcare, hospitality and education. This business model fits well for our unique situation because we have no kids or pets and therefore have the ability to travel on a full time basis. We enjoy shooting real estate virtual tours but until recently we did not pursue that business because of our travel schedule. We now have a photographer in our home town whom we trust and who can shoot those tours for us when we are on the road. The great thing about real estate virtual tours is that once the relationship is built, there is the potential for a consistent stream of income.
While what we do works for us, we never want to imply that our business model is ideal for everyone or is the only way. The great thing about owning your own virtual tour business is that you can set up your business however YOU choose. By choosing a great partner like we have in RTV, Inc., we can focus as much or as little time as we want to on our business and still offer a fantastic product.
Our only source of income is virtual tours however there is absolutely nothing wrong with having your virtual tour business be a part time venture and having something else be your core business or main source of income. I believe that there are a few keys to making a part time virtual tour business work.
Differentiate between part time and spare time. If you are working a full time job and/or have a family, then there is really no such thing as spare time. You must be diligent about making time for your business on a consistent basis. If you do nothing other than make one new contact a day, you will eventually see results. Set a finite minimum goal for every week. I prefer to not make that a time goal but instead an objective goal. My goal is to make 100 new contacts a week. Perhaps a part time goal would be to make one new contact every day and a total of 10 for the week. The key is consistency.
Create your unique value proposition. At Vision Quest Virtual Tours, we photograph high quality virtual tours at a reasonable price in the areas of healthcare, hospitality and education. That does not mean that we don’t do other types of tours but by knowing what our value proposition is, I can then target my marketing approach. Your value proposition is based on your specific skills – you can choose to compete based on superior photography skills, being the most efficient and better value, based on knowledge of a specific business, etc.
Count the cost. I talk about this a great deal because I have seen so many people enthusiastically throw their hat into the self employment ring and end up failing miserably because they did not count the cost ahead of time. There is a ramping up period that is inevitable in any new business. Owning a virtual tour business requires a relatively low initial investment compared to other types of businesses but it is also not type of business where the business flows in as soon as you announce you are in business.
Analyze your market. Is there enough demand for what you want to offer in your local area or are you going to have to expand into neighboring communities? We live in a small town with 40,000 people and ours is the largest town in the region. If we were tied only to the local area, there would not be enough business for us to operate long term on a full time basis. We chose where we live because it is centrally located and allows us to easily travel from coast to coast.
Consider the rewards. What if your virtual tour business only generates an extra $500 a month of income? For most people, that amount of money makes a huge difference in their lives. An extra $500 a month would make a huge difference in what type of car you can drive, how quickly you pay off your debt, what kind of vacation you can take, what kind of house you can afford. What would an extra $500 a month do for you?
Having a good business plan is vital to running a successful business in the long run. Again, whether that business is for extra income or your full time job, having a plan lets you measure your success. No one should ever misunderstand us to say that ours is the only viable or worthwhile business model.
Vacation Rental Photos & Virtual Tours