- Have three copies of every file
- Store backups on two different kinds of media
- Have one backup stored offsite
- How to Choose Products to Sell to Your Clients
- 5 Simple Tips to Jump Start Your Photography Business
Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash
Starting a photography business should be listed on those “biggest stressors in a person’s life” lists, right up there with divorce and marriage.
That’s because there is no shortage of errors photographers make when they open a business for the first time.
So, in order for you to learn from the mistakes of others, here is a list of photography business mistakes you should avoid in your first few years of business.
Undercharging Your Clients
photo by gpointstudio via iStock
I get it; money is never fun to talk about. It’s also not fun to think about, so when you’re trying to set prices for your business, you may need a little help.
The issue is, even the professionals disagree. Should you give away your services for free while you begin to build a portfolio? Should you offer your services for cheap prices and then slowly build them up?
While both of these routes can seem tempting, particularly when everyone else is doing it, you’re only undervaluing yourself when you give away your services at anything less than full price.
photo by AndreyPopov via iStock
Plus, when you give away your services for cheap, you’re costing your business money. Have you thought about all the money you put into your equipment? Into rent? Into insurance?
Did you think about the gas and car maintenance required when you drive to and from shoots that are up to a few hours away?
Have you stopped to figure out how much your time is worth to you?
These are all important questions to ask yourself so you don’t make one of the most fatal photography business mistakes and undervalue your services.
While I agree that your prices will need to be lower when you’re just starting out, they shouldn’t be so low that you can’t pay your bills (and yourself!).
Add up all your expenses and overhead, factor in a salary for yourself, and then determine what you need to charge. Again, your markup might be less when you first start out, but at least you’ll have all your bases covered with the prices you set up.
Not Protecting Your Images & Other Files
Photo by Geber86 via iStock
I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but there are too many things that can go wrong in your life as a photographer to not have the proper backups in place for your images and other files.
Obviously, the best protection for your files is to follow the tried-and-true 3-2-1 backup rule:
Every photographer is a little different in terms of workflow and preferences for backups. For some, having a fireproof safe full of thumb drives might be a good option. Not for me, though.
My onsite backup is a Synology Diskstation DS1019+.
Having a network attached storage (NAS) was a must for me because I need a ton of space to store files.
But just because this unit has five hot-swappable bays doesn't mean it's a big rig that takes up tons of room.
In fact, it sits on the corner of my desk, out of sight, and out of mind.
It can accommodate 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives and has an Intel Celeron J3455 1.5GHz quad-core processor that can run at a burst speed of 2.3GHz.
With all that space and power, this NAS gives me lightning-quick read/write speeds of up to 225MB per second, not to mention a ton of space to backup my files.
The Synology Diskstation 1019+ is also incredibly easy to use. The Synology DSM operating system is simple to navigate and intuitive to use, even if you've never used a NAS before.
In fact, setup takes just minutes, again, even if you have no experience in using a NAS.
In other words, Synology has created the ideal backup for photographers - this thing has all the space you need, the speed you want, and it's simple to use.
Leaving your files without a backup is just asking for trouble. Before it's too late, get a backup plan in place!
Learn more about this network attached storage device in my Synology DiskStation 1019+ review.
Not Working With Your Competition
photo by AntonioGuillem via iStock
I don’t understand photographers who view their competition as competition all the time. Sure, you may be technically vying for the same business, but there’s often enough work to go around, even in smaller towns.
All you’re doing by refusing to work with your competition is hurting yourself. Your competition probably has great advice for problems you’re currently encountering. Your competition is also going to be one of the most brutal ways you can get good constructive criticism.
Is your husband or wife really giving you the best constructive criticism? Probably not, and it isn’t their fault; their not in the photography business.
Do you want to know who is? The woman who grabbed the wedding you thought you were going to get to shoot last month.
photo by RossHelen via iStock
Plus, other photographers can also be a great resource in terms of getting jobs. I recommend fellow photographers for jobs I can’t take or don’t want all of the time. I also work as a production assistant for some of my photographer friends on large photoshoots and they do the same for me.
If you view your competition as your friends, you’re much more likely to work more often and with better clients.
Being a Poor Communicator
photo by Adene Sanchez via iStock
My Gmail account sends push notifications to my cell phone. Yes, this can get annoying when I’m getting spam mail all day, but I want to be able to respond within a half hour to potential clients when possible.
Chances are, if you get an email from a potential new client, you are not the only photographer in the area that received that email. And if you respond faster than you have better chances of getting the job.
photo by andresr via iStock
Photography business mistakes in communication also don’t just apply to responding to potential clients quickly. Being able to define what you do in an eloquent fashion is key.
Some potential clients have never worked with a photographer before, so they don’t really understand what they’re getting themselves into. Maintaining your brand, via Facebook, Instagram, your portfolio and email lists, is absolutely essential to starting a photography business.
You need to be able to sound authoritative about your craft, while still sounding humble. You should also approach all of your writing at around an 8th grade level, the same thing newspapers do. This ensures that most people can read and understand what it is you do.
You basically want someone that has never even had a photographer as a friend to be able to understand exactly what you’re talking about when you explain your products and services.
Not Partnering With the Best Vendors
I think this photography business mistake follows the same line as the rest of these photography business mistakes. Why don’t photographers work on finding the best people in their industry to work with?
To be honest, I didn’t understand the necessity of working with good partners until I came across my first great vendor, CanvasHQ.
CanvasHQ is a canvas printing company, which means they sell products I can upsell to my clients, but more importantly than this, they have some of the best customer service agents I have ever come across in this industry.
It’s a small business, which I like because I know my money is going to the people handcrafting my products.
And handcrafting is exactly what they are doing. Every single canvas frame is handcrafted, and every single canvas print is hand-stretched.
Plus, since they are a relatively small business, their products are relatively inexpensive. In fact, they usually have a banner across the top of their website for up to 35% off your first order!
Take it from me...it’s important to partner with vendors you respect, because it’s easier to sell products you believe in. And when you believe in a product like CanvasHQ, your clients will believe in it too!