7 Things You Need to Know to Succeed in the Photography Business
- Social media guru
- Customer service specialist
Like any business, to make it in photography, there are a few things you need to know.
Check that - there are MANY things you need to know!
Some of these things are obvious…
Photography know-how is probably at the top of that list.
Other things might not be so obvious to the new business owner…
Like, how will you market yourself and establish your brand?
With that in mind, I’ve put together seven simple tips that will help you build a more successful photography business. This isn’t an all-encompassing list, but it’ll at least get you started on the right foot.
Photographers Aren’t Just Photographers
First things first, you will not spend all your time doing photography activities.
In fact, you won’t even spend the majority of your time doing photography activities!
That’s because when you’re in business for yourself, you wear plenty of hats:
You get the point.
So, while having excellent photography skills is obviously a must, the not-so-obvious part is that business skills are a must too.
Your People Skills Must Be On Point
This might seem like a real “duh” moment, but hear me out…
I’m willing to bet that most artists are people persons - energetic, outgoing, and able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone.
But people skills in the business realm is more than just being able to talk to people.
Instead, it’s about dedicating yourself to giving your customers the best experience possible.
You need to be able to hear what people are saying, answer their questions, work under potentially stressful conditions (i.e. weddings), and do so while maintaining your calm, being professional, and delivering a final product that you can take pride in.
That might sound like an easy process, but sometimes, it’s not.
Difficult clients will come and go over the course of your career, and your ability to deal with them in the same way that you work with your favorite client might determine the success of your business.
In the video above, Brian Tracy outlines how you can improve your people skills and do so by focusing on one essential quality: charm.
Your Website Must Be On Point Too
If you think about the most effective ways a photographer can market their business, a website should be at the top of the list.
Since photography is a visual medium, it’s essential that potential customers have a place to go to examine your portfolio and get a feel for the kind of work you do.
That means that the quality of the website is of the utmost importance.
Right or wrong, people will judge your business in part on how your work is presented, so you want to knock their socks off.
The problem, as noted earlier, is that photographers aren’t just photographers, so there’s precious little time to devote to building your own website.
That’s where PhotoFolio comes in.
PhotoFolio is a portfolio platform that allows you to quickly and easily create a stunning website. And when I say stunning, I mean it!
In fact, PhotoFolio has won more “best website” awards than anyone else in the industry, if that tells you anything.
Better still, the website that you create isn’t just gorgeous, it’s intuitive, so your potential customers can check out your work, learn about you, and contact you with ease.
How can you go wrong with a website that’s built for photographers and is easy for you to create and for your customers to use?
The answer is, you can’t!
See for yourself why PhotoFolio stands head and shoulders above the competition. In the video below, Rob Haggart shows off some of PhotoFolio’s best features:
Expand Your Income Base
Not to throw yet another task on your already big list of things to do, but having multiple streams of income will certainly help your photography business succeed.
Think about it: if you’re a wedding photographer, you’re going to be extremely busy from March through October (especially in the summer months), but not as much will be going on through the winter.
Instead of sitting around twiddling your thumbs, use that time to earn more money as a photographer through some other means.
Offer holiday portrait sessions for couples and families. Do engagement shoots for your upcoming wedding clients. Get into the stock photography business. Heck, you might even contract with other photographers to edit their photos.
The point is that because photography is such a cyclical enterprise and your income can be fairly uneven from one month to the next, finding ways to supplement your primary income to soften that ebb and flow will be extremely beneficial to you in the long run.
Word of Mouth is Where It’s At
Right from the start, you need a referral program.
That is, you need a way to encourage your clients to talk to their family and friends about you, such that those family and friends become clients themselves.
Why? Because word of mouth referrals are extremely powerful.
People are much more likely to trust something their brother or best friend says than something they see in an ad in the newspaper.
That means you need to combine a couple of the previous points and go after referrals like your business depends on it - because it does!
It starts with excellent customer service. Give your clients an experience that wows them and makes them gush about how wonderful you are as a photographer and a person.
Then, encourage them to say those nice things about you to people they know. Make it easy for them by offering a rewards program - maybe offer to waive their sitting fees for their next portraits if someone they refer to you becomes a client.
Ask for testimonials too. Then put their testimonials on your website for all to see. That way word of mouth works not just in your client’s circle of family and friends, but on the internet where their testimonial can be seen far and wide.
Continue to Learn
Just because you’ve finally “made it” and have your own photography business doesn't mean there’s still not plenty to learn about being better at what you do.
And for photographers, that goes two ways: there’s photography-related learning to do and business-related learning to do as well.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a bunch of classes at the local college to learn new things - you won’t have time for that.
But what you can do is set aside 5-10 minutes a day to do things like read articles like this, check out a YouTube video on small business tips like the one from Jeff Cable and B&H Photo Video above, or send an email to a photography or business mentor to pick their brain about a problem or issue you’ve encountered.
By dedicating yourself to continually improving your skillset, you’ll not only become a more skilled photographer, but your business acumen will grow as well!
Don’t Work Yourself to Death
It’s hard not to spend 12, 14, or 16 hours a day working when you’re a photographer.
But, take it from me when I say that those kind of hours will catch up to you, and they will make things worse, not better.
The stress of owning a small business is high, there’s no doubt about it.
That means you need to take the time to release that stress and get rejuvenated to attack building your business with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.
So, rather than spending that fifth weekend in a row in the office or studio, take a few hours to go out and shoot just for fun. Grab the family and head to a movie or the beach. Plop down on the couch and binge-watch your favorite TV show. Do these things on a regular basis, and you’ll have more energy (and more creativity) to throw into building a more successful photography business.