- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Stock Photography: Residual Income With Your Digital Camera
- Get Your Photography on the Web: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Show and Sell Your Work
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Selling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Business and Legal Forms for Photographers
You’ve decided to start a digital photography business and have taken all the preliminary steps necessary to open any small business. (Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Photography Business Tip—The Steps to Take Before Starting a Photography Business.)
Now, your primary goal is to find customers, which is when you put the marketing section of your business plan into action. You may want to consider some of the ideas and tips in this article as you develop, and then implement, your marketing program.
Marketing…advertising…promotions…are vast topics with thousands of gurus, writers and speakers trying to convince you to take (pay for) their advice and guidance. There is much you can learn about marketing, etc. from the self-proclaimed and proven experts. Be aware, however, that much of what they say and write does not apply to you, which is the first lesson of marketing: Many businesses will use similar or identical methods to market their products and services, but virtually every business must implement a few specific techniques that typically only work for those in that market niche.
Identity: The Universal Marketing Method
Before you can implement some specific techniques to market a new photography business, you must first create an identity for your business. This is the first step toward building a brand, which even the smallest photography business can and should do. Branding is critical for companies like Coca-Cola or McDonalds because they must brand themselves to a universe of potential customers that encompasses most everyone on Earth. Your universe of potential customers is infinitesimal by comparison, but that’s okay, you’re in a different kind of business. Regardless of the size and location of your market, it’s still important to brand, or imprint, you and your business on the minds of potential customers.
At the small-business level, a business name and a logo are your first, and most important, branding tools. Many photographers who start a business simply use their name: Joe Smith Photography. This may be the best and easiest choice, since much of your sales and marketing will be accomplished with personal contacts and developing one-on-one relationships. Plus, the products and services you sell are a direct result of your technical skills and artistic eye.
If you’d rather not use your name, then spend some time creating a long list of possible names. They could be based on your location or other inspirations. Do a poll of family members and friends for their favorites. Check to see if other photographers are already using those names locally or on the Web. Incorporating under that name or registering it as a trademark is a question for your attorney or accountant.
To create an appropriate logo, it’s best to contract for the services of a graphic designer. It’s a worthwhile investment of a few hours of his or her time, so your logo is professional and easy to identify. An elaborate logo or a fancy, difficult-to-read font type for your business name is to be avoided. A good graphic designer knows these principles. Logos should be artistic, but simple. Use standard fonts (or their derivatives) with wide lettering, so your name is clearly and quickly readable on a space as small as a business card.
Traditionally, a new business would have an identity package produced with its name and logo. This would include a letterhead sheet, a #10 envelope, business cards, note cards, a mailing label, etc. You may or may not need all those elements today, since so much business and communication occurs digitally and not via snail mail. Business cards are a must, since, again, you will be making individual contacts and you want to leave behind the minimum of a business card.
If your photography business involves making prints for clients that must be sent to them, then a mailing label for large envelopes or boxes is a good idea. You may also want note cards or “Thank you” cards, so you can send a personal, handwritten thank-you note to each customer once a project is completed. The best advice is not to spend the money to print/produce all these identify package elements when you start your business. Invest in those you absolutely need; the others can always be printed later.