Filing for a DBA, LLC + Taking a Paycheck

Dear Jasmine,
I have no clue where to start with how to pay myself out of the business. I finally figured out that I need to do the DBA, LLC, tax ID (not that I've figured out that exactly yet)… If I need to talk to an accountant, tax person or WHAT. You know, the stuff you don't learn when you decide to get a degree in art photography… I can't find anything in my research! Please help!
All Sorts of Confused

Dear All Sorts of Confused,
You asked a few questions that could result in hundreds of blog posts, but I'd love to offer a few things that I've learned along the way. (Important Note: this blog post is just personal advice based on personal experience…I heavily suggest consulting professionals with your specific questions in their related fields, specific to the state you're doing business.)

I received my first digital camera in 2005 and when I decided to pursue photography professionally, I had no idea where to start. I just dove headfirst into the pool of the photo world and tried not to drown. Here's a loose outline of how I legitimized my business…
March 2006
Went to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office and filed for a DBA (Doing Business As). Because I didn't know how to structure my new business, I selected Sole Proprietorship/Partnership (this can be risky because business creditors could get to your personal assets, as well as business assets…most new businesses opt for an LLC).
I filed my new business in a local newspaper (as required by LA County {at the time} to procure my DBA).
April 2006
I applied for my first business credit card. I used this card for every business purchase and ensured my business expenses (camera gear, purchasing a website domain, etc.) were all tracked on this card.
May 2006
After scoring my first second shooting opportunity (my first legit gig in the photo world), I opened a business checking account (it's super important to ensure your business income is separate from personal income, especially if you're working a daytime job, like I was).
June-September 2006
I second shot weddings almost every weekend, and deposited the payment for my services into my business checking account. All the gear I bought, I paid for with my credit card, then immediately paid it off in full with the funds in my checking account (I never went into debt for photography gear I couldn't afford).
October 2006
I shot my first three weddings as the lead photographer this month.
December 2006
I called the IRS and applied for a tax ID, or EIN. This is a free service, so be sure not to pay a site that charges for this service (you can apply for an EIN HERE). I wanted to use a tax ID to file my business taxes instead of my social security number, which I preferred to use just for my personal income taxes.
I met with an accountant to discuss filing taxes for my personal income and business income. I discovered I invested more in my business (purchasing gear, attending workshops, investing in my online branding) than I made for my services (which is quite normal for a small business in its first year).

February 2007
I hired a bookkeeper, Scott. He tracked my business income and expenses, and gave me monthly Income Statement, a Profit/Loss Statement, and a Year To Date Income statement (I still work with Scott).
March 2007
I move to Orange County, California and file for a business license in Orange County.
April 2007
I go full-time as an Orange County wedding photographer.
May 2007
I took my first Jasmine Star Photography paycheck. This paycheck was basically made up of the funds I needed for rent and other necessities. I wanted my business to be as profitable as possible, so drawing an impressive paycheck wasn't important to me.

At the end of 2007, I had booked 38 weddings. I was a full-time wedding photographer, but only took barebone paychecks. Almost ten years after getting my first camera, I still take small paychecks. I have since opened a business savings account and only keep the necessary amount of funds in my business checking account to pay off my credit card bill (in full) each month. I draw monthly income from my business checking account, and also set aside funds in a personal savings account (paying special attention to allocate funds for retirement and small investments).

This has been an epically long blog post…if I haven't bored you to death, thanks for making it this far. I could write more about the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned along the way, but–for now–I hope this helps you chart your course to success and financial stability!

Work, Hustle, Repeat,