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 an excellent 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 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.
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 that someday never comes until there is a trigger such as an illness, retirement, funeral, wedding, milestone anniversary, or birthday. Also, many people fear that their photos may be lost if they ship them to an offsite scanning company.
This need has resulted in a great business opportunity for people who would like to scan photos for profit.
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.
1. Getting the Word Out
Photo scanning offers the chance to work with family, friends, neighbors, and local businesses 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 have begun by posting flyers throughout our neighborhood and offered fundraising options to our school community. We gave back a percentage of all orders, which was an excellent 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.
2. 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 ($1,299) 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 eight shoeboxes of pictures and earn $2,400 to recoup our investment. We accomplished our goal quickly.
3. 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 bought a laptop that we dedicated as the scanner laptop; thus, we were able to keep our client’s 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.
5. Additional Services
Photo scanning can open the door to other 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 an additional income creating slideshows and photo books for families for graduations, weddings, and anniversaries. These jobs are the result of connecting with families whose photos we have scanned.
6. 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 worldwide. 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.
What questions do you have about scanning photos for profit?