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Scanning Photos can be a Great Home Business

Scanning Photos can be a Great Home BusinessBy Cathi Nelson

Converting old photographs into digital images by scanning them is a terrific small business opportunity that offers flexible hours and a minimum investment. In fact, in addition to managing APPO, I share a photo scanning business with my teenage children. It has been a great opportunity to teach them the fundamentals of running a business including taking responsibility for a project, the importance of customer service, estimating a job, collecting money and saving for the future. This past month my 17-year-old daughter earned $1,000 working for one client. She scanned hundreds of photos in the comfort of our home, under my supervision and has a new batch to start on this week.

Many people have a lifetime of printed photos that they consider priceless. We know the first thing many want to rescue from a burning building is their photo collection but they often languish in shoeboxes, basements, and attics. Why? That amount of time and effort to organize, sort, and collate a collection is often overwhelming. Many people assume they will get to it someday but someday often never comes, until there is a trigger such as an illness, retirement, funeral, wedding, milestone anniversary, or birthday. In addition, many people fear that their photos may be lost if they ship them to one of the offsite scanning companies.

This need has resulted in a great business opportunity.

Again, the numbers are impressive, 1000 Memories estimates that there are over 1.7 trillion paper photos stored in albums, attics, and shoeboxes while Scan Café estimates that Americans have taken 550 billion non-digital photos. All of these photos represent the heart and soul of a family’s story and an opportunity for you to help solve their problem. Within your neighborhood and circle of family and friends, there are thousands of photos waiting for someone to organize, sort and digitize.

Here are tips on getting started including the initial investment, income potential and resources to help.

Getting the Word Out:

Photo scanning offers the chance to work with family, friends, neighbors and local business within your community. Tell your network that you have started a new business and you can help them get their photo life in order.

We started by posting flyers throughout our neighborhood and offered fundraising options to our school community. We gave back a percentage of all orders, which was a great incentive for people to bring us their boxes of photos. This was also an effective way to introduce our business to our family and friends. Just come up with a catchy title such as, Neighborhood Shoe Box Scanning Service.

Equipment Needed:

If you are going to start a scanning business, you need to invest in the proper equipment. A home flatbed scanner is not the right tool for high speed scanning. Most start with the Kodak PS50, which can scan up to 50 photos a minute, and EZ Photo Scan offers a competitive price ($1,199) and great customer service to help you get started.

The average shoebox has 750 loose photos and the average cost per photo scanning charge ranges between .35  – .40 thus a shoebox of photos will cost $300. When we started, our goal was to scan 8 shoeboxes of photos and earn $2,400 to recoup our investment. We accomplished our goal quickly.

Earning Potential:

Here is a link to a detailed chart with income earning potential, Building Blocks to Success.

In addition to purchasing the scanner, we purchased a laptop that we dedicated as the scanner laptop thus we were able to keep our clients photos separate from our family photos.

My Work Flow Studio, a division of Big Picture Coaching, has a library of resources you can purchase at their website. These forms  are very helpful and have been created by Sherra Humphreys and Rita Norton, who are APPO™ certified photo organizers and currently work with VIP clients while designing tools and developing resources to help photo organizers bring their business to the next level.

You can also rent your scanner for those who are interested in Doing It Themselves. This offers you another income opportunity. Mollie Bartelt and Ann Matuszak started their own company called Pixologie and offer assistance to others looking to start a similar business using their model. The typical rental cost is $100 a day.

Additional Services:

Photo scanning can open the door to additional services such as converting outdated media, photo organizing and digital photo management. The Association of Personal Photo Organizers provides excellent training and support for this growing niche in the organizing and photo marketplace. My son has earned additional income creating slide shows and photo books for families for graduations, weddings and anniversaries. These jobs are the result of connecting with families whose photos we have scanned.

Photo Organizer Events:

International Save Your Photos Day, sponsored by the Save Your Photos Alliance, is an annual event held the last Saturday of September. In 2014, over 75 events were held in 4 countries. It is FREE to get involved and a great way for you to promote your new business.

APPO hosts a National Conference every year and is  the only educational conference and expo for photo organizers in the world. The conference features dozens of small group and interactive learning workshops, led by an impressive collection of passionate experts and certified photo organizers. This is a great way to connect with other professionals who are offering scanning and photo organizing services.

If you are looking for ways to add revenue to your existing business or starting a new business I highly recommend exploring this as a viable business option.

Cathi Nelson had her “light bulb” moment when she recognized that consumers were becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the exploding number of photos, media and memorabilia they were accumulating. She started her own photo organizing business called PhotoSimplified and was amazed at the response from clients and others who wanted to learn how to add photo-organizing services to their business. In response she founded, The Association of Personal Photo Organizers to support the new and emerging profession of photo- life management by providing training, support, products and collaboration for people interested in adding photo management services to their existing business or as a new business. Since its inception, APPO has grown to hundreds of  members throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom

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6 Responses to “Scanning Photos can be a Great Home Business”

  1. 1
    Lisa says:

    I was wondering what other costs besides the scanner you had to set up before starting your photo scanning business (i.e. insurance, advertising, etc.). Thank You

    • 1.1
      Cathi Nelson says:

      There are few additional costs to setting up a scanning business. You should speak with an insurance agent about liability insurance and marketing can be accomplished in many different ways including attending networking groups in your area. You can learn more at our website http://www.appo.org. We have 2 free guides with a lot more details.

  2. 2
    Spencer says:

    I don’t know, there are many site like ScanDigital and others that do this same service. It seems like a pretty saturated market.

    • 2.1
      Cathi Nelson says:

      This is definitely not a saturated market! Many people are hesitant to send their photos away through the mail and are willing to pay for personalized service from someone in their own community. We have over 650 members throughout the US and Canada and many include scanning services as part of their business. You can learn more by downloading our free guides at our website http://www.appo.org

  3. 3
    Kara says:

    Hi Cathi! I came across this article recently and I think this is such a great idea! I am a stay at home mom looking for a side job and this seems like it would be perfect for me! I currently live outside of Chattanooga,TN and through the beginnings of my research on this, it seems like our market is not saturated with this type of home business. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me:
    1) I’ve been doing some preliminary research on scanners and some articles I’ve come across suggest a flatbed scanner for pictures and negatives due to them being more delicate. I know you suggested above a feeder type scanner for efficiency purposes. Have you run into any misfeeds of the picture where the original was damaged? I want to be efficient with the work, but don’t want to damage any originals.
    2) Do you have your clients sign any type of contract or agreement before you start the work? I’m just trying to think practically about any legal issues and what not.
    3) How did you start getting the word out? What was your marketing strategy?

    Thanks!

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