How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Photography Business

Sean Lund-Brown

A lot of photographers are solopreneurs or have a very small business. Thus, they often feel like hiring a receptionist or other support might be outside of their means. And still, these are some of the professionals that need help the most. So, what’s a busy, overwhelmed photographer to do?

Hire a receptionist. 

Yep, that’s right. Whether you’re a single-person operation, a full-service photography agency, or any other type of business within the industry, you need (and deserve) to have a receptionist that can handle all of the little (and not-so-little) day-to-day admin and communications tasks that your business deals with. You can essentially have them take care of anything that you’d like to get off your plate. How you hire them, and who you hire, of course, are going to impact how this works for your business. 

If you want it to go well, take some notes as you read through the article below. We’ll talk about outsourcing versus hiring, the costs involved, the benefits of having a receptionist, and even cover some common Q&A to help you understand your options and guide you in making your decision. Your audience demands better attention and more personalized solutions today. If you’re not offering them, they’re going to find someone who does. 

You can’t do it all, either. As much as you want to, you’ll find yourself constantly following up on messages, returning calls, and interrupting sessions to take calls or deal with other issues that come up throughout the day. Nothing looks less professional than a frazzled individual who can’t focus on the client at hand because they’re too busy running the rest of the business. 

You can’t do it all. Stop trying. And now, let’s talk about how to get the best receptionist so that this will be an easy transition and one that you’ll look forward to. 


Should I outsource or hire someone “in-house”?


This is one of the first things you’ll have to consider when you decide to add a receptionist to your roster. Are they actually going to belong to your roster, or are you going to utilize a contractor or third-party service so they’re on standby whenever you need them and don’t take up as much of your resources? When you’re limited on resources and looking for help, an employee might not be feasible. For some businesses, it will make natural sense. For others, it might make more sense to outsource. 

How can you decide? Well, there’s no real list of hard rules, but here are some guidelines that can help you along the way. For starters, if you don’t need someone on payroll or in the building every single day, it might be better to outsource the help. It could save you money and give you access to much better features and talent than you’d find locally. 

Speaking of which, outsourcing does also afford you the chance to find better talent or receptionists that can provide better solutions at a lower cost, as compared to hiring someone. If you want to make sure that you get the best, regardless of their location, this is the way to go. 

Sometimes, people need someone to be available as the face of the business at the physical front desk. Sometimes, they might need a virtual service to hold the place of a physical receptionist for vacations or in between employees. In any case, a receptionist is going to be a critical part of any business. It’s just a matter of how you integrate yours, not whether you need one. 

Do you have the time to manage all the details and oversee the receptionist that you hire? Can you handle delegating tasks and making sure that things get done? If you would rather not have to worry about it at all, outsourcing or choosing a third-party virtual receptionist service could be the better option. 


What to look for in a receptionist


If you want to make sure that you hire the best person for the job, you’ll have to consider the skills that matter most to you. Photography experience would be nice. Interest in the industry would be even better. However, you can still find a great receptionist even if they’re not familiar or involved in the industry at all. 

You can teach the hard skills involved in running your business, handling communications, and so forth. You can even train them on how to talk to clients about quotes, sessions, and other details to ensure that people get the information and insight that they need, even when you’re not available. What you can’t teach are the things like having a good personality or being committed to getting things done. Make sure that your receptionist offers:

  • A can-do attitude and the ability to get things done in a timely fashion
  • A friendly, personable demeanor
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Capability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to multitask and take control 
  • The same vision and mission that your photography business has

That last one isn’t required, per se, but it can offer a little bit of an endorsement for your brand that you have people who are also passionate about the industry working for you. That’s not easy to come by these days. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best photography receptionist, no matter what it is that you have in mind. From basic assistance to advanced solutions and custom communications strategies, virtual receptionists can make your photography business much more organized and efficient. 


Benefits of hiring a photography receptionist


In addition to answering calls and taking messages, a receptionist can do a lot for your photography business. They can handle scheduling meetings, setting up consultations, advising people on your services, and so much more. Having a receptionist frees up your time so that you can focus on the areas of business that demand your attention, such as current client sessions, editing sessions, and so forth. 

A receptionist will be able to assist with:

  • Answering and routing calls and live website chat requests
  • Answering SMS and Facebook messages
  • Data entry, organizing virtual files, and keeping systems accurate and up-to-date
  • Physical organization of the office (if working in a physical space)
  • Handling any after-hours calls or urgent needs, even if you aren’t available
  • Collecting session fees and other payments


This is just a glimpse of the many things that a photography receptionist could do when you add one to your team. Keep these things in mind so that you remember all that you’re getting when you make this investment. The modern receptionist is someone who is really a Jack of all trades if you will, and they are committed to embracing that in their careers as a way to deliver better results in fast-paced, high-pressure positions like receptionists or other frontline workers. 

Receptionists can also help your photography prospects learn more about your pricing, packages, session options, and other details. When you choose the best ones, make sure that you are giving your business the chance to grow and thrive. You’re being transparent, and that is far more valuable than a lot of the things we’ve already talked about here. 


How much will a receptionist cost?


Everyone has to know, eventually, what it’s going to cost to hire or outsource a receptionist. While we always say you can’t focus on cost alone, it will be a factor in your decision. Therefore, you should know that most receptionists in the U.S. earn between $11 and $14 per hour, depending on their expertise, experience, and other factors. Some specialty receptionists or those in professional industries could garner as much as $20 per hour, but that’s more the exception than the rule. 

And that’s just the hourly rate if you choose to hire someone as an employee. Furthermore, you’ll have to add to that the $4,000 (average) cost of onboarding and training an employee, plus benefits, plus overhead… you get the picture. 

This is where it could be helpful to understand all of your options, including the ways that you can outsource to get the same services for less. Even better, when you outsource to the right people, you can get better services for your money, even without having to spend a lot more. This is a decision that you will have to make based on the needs of your business. Just remember that while it is important, it’s not the only concern that should be on your mind. 


A few other FAQs

We’ve covered a lot in a short time, but it shouldn’t be too much if you’ve been taking notes. Speaking of which, grab your pen again because we’re going to go over a few common questions and answers about hiring receptionists before we close. Hopefully, that will reiterate the important facts and offer a few more insights for your decision-making. 


When do I need to hire a receptionist? 

If you find yourself unable to keep up with calls, messages, admin duties, or other things, it might be time to call in some help. Many people would say that if you’re even asking the question, it’s time. Ultimately, think about what a receptionist can provide: peace of mind, more time for you to spend on other things, better organization, and so forth. If you think your photography business can benefit from these things, consider hiring a receptionist. 


What if I’m a solo photographer? How do I hire help?

If you’re a solopreneur, you might think that there’s no room in your business for a receptionist. Fortunately, the virtual receptionists and outsourcing options available today say that’s not true. You can easily find a receptionist to do everything you need. The option of whether you hire in-house or outsource your help will be up to you, but outsourcing is a bit cheaper for those with limited budgets. Don’t think that you can’t afford it, because there’s more help out there today than you might think. 


Should my receptionist understand the photography industry?

Ultimately, experience is always going to be an asset. However, you can always teach people things about your photography business and the craft itself so that they are better prepared for the incoming queries. You cannot teach people things like communication and multitasking skills, though, so make sure that you focus on skills like that first. If you find photography experience, that’s great. If not, it’s not a dealbreaker. 


What’s a virtual receptionist? How can they help?

Some photographers (and other businesses) choose to go the route of hiring a virtual receptionist instead. This is someone who can act as the face of your business virtually, working with you through the cloud and via software platforms. They can handle all of the same tasks that you would expect from an in-house receptionist, but virtually. If you hire a team of them, they can provide you with a dynamic solution for all of your admin and communications needs. 


Stick to the photos and leave the rest to the team at Smith.ai


It’s not that you can’t field all the calls and messages that you get in a day—it’s that you shouldn’t have to. When you partner with the virtual receptionists here at Smith.ai, you’ll get a 24/7 team that ensures that every call, chat, and other needs are met, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. 

We can assist with after-hours answering and emergency message responses, Facebook message answering, live website chat services, payment collection and scheduling for your photography sessions, and so much more. Plus, we’ll even help you come up with a dynamic strategy to manage every last detail. 

Learn more when you schedule a consultation to discuss how the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can free up your time and streamline your communications and admin work. You’ll also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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