When setting up a photography business, there's plenty to think about.
You have to come up with a name, find a location for your office or studio, and file all the necessary business paperwork to form a legitimate business.
There's also designing a logo, having a website created, getting outfitted with the necessary photography gear, and starting advertising.
Yeah...it's a lot!
Given how much is on your plate as you start your photography business, it should come as no surprise that many budding photographers make a lot of mistakes.
Eliminating those mistakes is likely impossible. However, by educating yourself about some of the pitfalls you face, you can at least minimize your mistakes along the way.
Here are three common mistakes photographers make when setting up their business. Watch and learn, so you avoid these same problems.
Mistake #1: Not Networking Enough
Even though you own your own business, you certainly aren't an island.
Operating in a vacuum isn't going to do you any favors when it comes to setting up your photography business and building it into something successful.
That means you need to network with other professionals in your area to build up your connections in the industry.
For example, if you're a wedding photographer, make it a point to introduce yourself to other professionals that serve the wedding photography industry.
That means going to the local bakery and flower shop, stopping by the printers, visiting with dressmakers, and so on.
Simply introducing yourself to these people so they can put a face to the name can help you generate business.
In fact, if you can come to mutually agreeable terms, perhaps you can leave some business cards at their place of business in exchange for having some of their business cards in your studio.
What's more, as you develop these relationships, you will find that people are willing to share their secrets for success.
Even better, there might come a point in which you can team up with another service provider to offer special packages for mutual customers.
For example, you might work out a deal with the florist such that you both offer a small discount if the client books you both for their wedding.
The point here is that there are plenty of reasons why you should put networking as one of your top priorities when you're setting up your business.
Not only can it help you get advice from established professionals, but it can also lead to more business for you!
Mistake #2: Not Having a Studio Assistant
Like I said earlier, even if you're the sole proprietor of your photography business, you aren't an island.
Having help running your business will prove invaluable to you as you build it into something that's successful and long-lasting.
For some photographers, that means having a second shooter to help them at large events like weddings or corporate gigs.
For other photographers, that means farming out editing duties to a third-party to free up time to tackle other business activities.
But what all photographers can benefit from is having a virtual studio assistant that keeps you organized and on track.
If you ask me, the best photography assistant is Iris Works.
Iris Works helps you nail everything down on the backend of the business - all the stuff that takes a ton of time but that your customers rarely see.
Here's a prime example:
You'll spend a good deal of time scheduling clients. Iris Works makes this incredibly easy by helping you maintain a calendar of activities with daily to-do lists.
That means you'll never forget a client meeting or double book a photoshoot because Iris Works keeps track of all your appointments for you.
It's easy to see all your backend tasks in Iris Works' dashboard, seen above. Think of it like a snapshot of your entire business on a single screen.
Just open the dashboard, and you can see everything from what you have on your schedule for the day to what your clients have been up to (i.e. who's paid their invoices and who still has bills outstanding).
Just one look at the dashboard and you're all caught up on what's going on!
Here's another example:
One of Iris Works' many features is a Client Portal that keeps your client information nicely organized for easy access.
You can add details to client profiles like their birthday, anniversary, or their kids' birthdays so you can send thoughtful greetings on their special day.
You can add email addresses and other contact information to send clients details about upcoming promotions.
You can even use the Client Portal to organize leads you get from your website. Adding potential clients to your contact list has never been so easy!
What all this means is that with Iris Works, you spend much less time chasing paper and doing administrative tasks. With more time on your hands, you can focus your attention on things like networking, getting referrals (more on that next), communicating with clients and potential clients, and the like.
Iris Works does a whole lot more, too - from managing invoices to collecting payments from clients to creating contracts and automating client communications.
In short, if you want to get your business started on the right foot, you need Iris Works. It can make all the difference in the world. Just ask their satisfied customers!
Mistake #3: Not Asking For Referrals
If you aren't asking your clients for referrals, you're not doing yourself or your business any favors.
Though networking is essential, when it comes down to it, a potential client is going to value the input of a friend or family member (or even a consumer they don't know) over the word of a florist, baker, or another business person regarding your worth as a photographer.
That means that you need to work out a solid plan for asking for and obtaining referrals from your satisfied clients.
Obviously, the key to getting a referral is to delivering an excellent product, having outstanding customer service, and going above and beyond to ensure your clients are completely satisfied with their experience working with you.
That means you need to be remarkable in every way. Your images need to be breathtaking, your communications with your clients need to be timely, helpful, and friendly, and you need to put the needs of your clients first.
By focusing on delivering the best images and the best customer service experience, you put yourself in prime position to have a customer that's blown away by your efforts and is more willing to spread the word about you to the people they know.
Get more insights into getting more client referrals for your photography business in the video below by Leah Remillet:
When asking for a referral, it's important to do so at points in your business relationship that are most likely to prove fruitful.
For example, asking for a referral when you send the invoice isn't a good plan.
Even if they are overjoyed with your work, no client is going to find a sizable bill all that exciting.
Instead, ask for a referral when you send a few sample images for your client to review.
Tease them with the best three or four images to get them excited about what else you have to deliver, and approach the subject with something like this:
Working with you has been a wonderful experience, and judging from these photos, I think you'll agree! I'd love to work more with folks like you. Do you have acquaintances, friends, or family members that are in need of photography services?
Note how there's no beating around the bush. You offer a compliment (working together has been wonderful) and then get straight to the point asking for a referral.
There are other ways to ask for referrals, too. You can send a letter or offer a discount for future services if someone the client refers procures your services. You can ask for a testimonial to go on your website or create referral cards to hand out to clients that they in turn can give to friends and family.
The point is that, just like networking, you need to work at getting referrals. You'll find that it will become your primary means of getting new clients and will greatly impact the success of your photography business. Pair those activities with the most effective studio assistant, and you'll have a recipe for business success!