- You get professional support to build a rock-solid business.
- You can get training to learn how to get comfortable being both a photographer and a businessperson.
- You can learn how to take all sorts of photos, from school photos to sports, family portraits to special events.
- You don't have to worry about creating a logo, a website, or handling any marketing.
I've been at this photography thing for a while now.
And though I've gotten to the point that I have a successful business, that wasn't always the case.
In fact, there were a lot of stressful days (and nights!) when I wasn't sure if I'd made the right decision when I started my photography business.
I've made a lot of mistakes along the way - many of them totally unnecessary had I done a bit more planning and prep work.
But my mistakes are your gain!
Read on to learn three things I wish I knew when I started my photography business.
You Don't Have to Start From Scratch
When I started my business, I made the mistake of not exploring all my options regarding how to get it up and running.
I started out on my own, without anyone or anything to hold me back (or to fall back on, either).
And while it was nice to know that I was in total control of my destiny, it was still really scary to be out there on my own with so much money and time and effort on the line.
If I had my druthers, I would go back in time and tell my younger self to explore other options, like joining a photography franchise.
A franchise, you ask? Yep.
There's a lot to like about starting your business as a franchise:
When you think about it, a franchise makes complete sense...
Not only do you have a strong network of photographers and businesspeople to help you in every aspect of growing your business, but you also get to use the franchise's reputation to your advantage.
In other words, you aren't just some guy or gal opening shop, you're a professional photographer with an internationally-recognized brand name at your disposal.
And all that assistance and insight from other members of the franchise isn't a one-and-done deal, either.
Instead, you benefit from ongoing support as long as your doors are open. That means more customers, more often, over the long haul.
Think of a franchise as a safety net to help you when you need it, and when you're buzzing along doing great, the franchise will still be there to offer assistance.
Had I only known that I could set up my business quickly and easily, pick the brains of more experienced photographers and businesspeople, and learned how to offer all sorts of products and services, my journey to success in business would have been much shorter!
You Need People Skills
I'm an extrovert, and I love meeting new people and learning about them.
That means that I'm well-suited for being in business for myself, especially as a photographer.
But when I started out in photography, it didn't occur to me until a few months into the venture that some people might not have the same people skills that extroverts like me tend to have.
When you're a photographer, it's not just about your artistic and creative skills behind the lens.
Instead, it's just as much about who you are and how you interact with others that determine your success.
In fact, you can be the most skilled photographer in the world, but if you come off cold, aloof, and unfriendly, it'll be difficult to attract new clients, let alone keep them.
Just like you work to make your clients look good in their photos, you need to have the people skills that make people feel good working with you as well.
It's certainly an easier task for some people than others, but with practice and experience, even they shyest of people can turn themselves into a skilled people person. To succeed in this kind of business, that's an absolute must!
Referrals are Paramount
When I started my photography business, I spent a ton of time working on things like making awesome business cards and getting cool stationery with my business logo printed at the top.
I also paid someone a lot of money to build my website and do some social media things for me.
And then I figured out that though things like that are all necessary to a degree, I was going way overboard with those strategies and not focusing enough attention on the biggest money maker: referrals.
The family whose portrait you take today can turn into two, three, four, or more families that call you to take their family photos, assuming that you deliver a quality product and offer the kind of customer service that gets people talking about you in glowing terms.
A referral from a happy client is worth its weight in gold and could prove to be the single most important type of marketing you do.
After all, people trust the experiences of their friends and family far more than any ad or Facebook post you could put out there.
That's why being a people person is so important for your success.
Likewise, that's why pursuing a photography franchise is such a smart decision because the branding and the reputation are already established for you.
In that regard, a franchise and having people skills are the tools by which you can get the best kind of marketing for long-term success - referrals!