- 14 Things You'll Want to Know Before Starting a Photography Business
- Photography Entrepreneur of the Month - Valerie Best
For many photographers, the dream is to be your own boss.
After all, working for yourself means you can work when you want, charge whatever you want, and work in exotic locations, right?
Well...not so fast.
If you're looking for an easy way to make money, being self-employed isn't it.
Building a successful photography business is a long process and one that requires a ton of patience and a whole lot of steps.
As someone that's started several businesses in my life, I understand that looking at it from the outset, it's hard not to get a little overwhelmed.
With that in mind, I've come up with three first steps you need to take to start a photography business.
Is this a comprehensive list of everything that needs to happen? No...
But it's a great place to at least get the process started!
Think About Who You Are as a Photographer
Before you plunk down rent on a studio, order business cards, or buy any photography gear, the first thing you need to do is think long and hard about who you are as a photographer.
That means a couple of different things.
First, consider what type of photography interests you. Is it wedding photography? Senior portraits? Fine art landscapes? Or something in between?
Narrowing down your interests will help you focus your attention on your long-term goals for your business.
Second, think about your ideal client and how that client fits in with who you are as a photographer.
By that, I mean that if you're a fun-loving, free-spirited person, you probably don't want to focus your attention on something relatively serious like corporate headshots.
Part of determining who you are as a photographer is developing your personal style as well. Get some tips on how to do that in the video below by Matt Granger:
When you think about the types of work you'd like to do and the types of clients you'd like to work with, keep in mind that building a business isn't all fun and games.
At least initially, you'll probably have to cast a wider net to get the clients you need to keep the doors open.
So, if you're really drawn to wedding photography, make a list of other photography pursuits that can help you make your living.
That might include offering engagement sessions, taking on a few portrait clients, or even farming yourself out as a photo editor.
Though it might not seem like it, being willing to take on work outside your personal tastes will enable you to focus more on your personal tastes later on.
Get in the Habit of Marketing Every Single Day
Some newbie business owners mistakenly think that marketing is something that's done just occasionally.
However, if you want to build the most successful business, you need to set aside time each and every day to market your work.
That doesn't mean that you have to spend half the day writing blogs and posting to social media.
But what it does mean is that you need to have a clear strategy for getting your face and name out amongst the buying public.
One of the best ways to do that in this day and age is to have a solid website.
Your website should have a clean, uncluttered design, that way your images are the star of the show as they should be.
It also needs to include the basics, like an About page where you talk about who you are as a photographer, offer some of your experience and expertise, and generally offer people a window into your business.
Naturally, you need a portfolio space, too, so people can examine your work and see what a talented photographer you are.
Your website also needs to be easy to find, which can be a problem given how many .com sites are out there these days.
You can get around that issue, though, by promoting your photography business with a .pics or a .photo domain name from Uniregistry.
Think about it - with a .pics or a .photo URL, you have an immediate way to tell people what your business is about. You can do it succinctly, too. No more rachaelthompsonphotography.com!
Instead, you give prospective clients an easy way to find your business website (and something easy to remember as well).
Beyond that, a shorter URL is perfect for marketing these days where you only have so many characters of space to put it in your social media profiles, on business cards, and the like.
Though your website shouldn't be the only means you use of marketing your business, that's where marketing begins and ends.
That's why having a spot-on URL like a .pics or .photo is so important for building a successful marketing plan for your photography business.
One of the most critical things you can to do ensure your business' long-term success is to find ways to be supported in your endeavors.
This might mean joining your local chamber of commerce. It might also mean joining a photography association like the Professional Photographers of America.
You might even find a mentor - someone that's built a business before and can provide you with guidance.
Even just reading articles like this, watching YouTube videos on marketing strategies, or taking a class at a local college or university on business topics can greatly assist you in achieving your photography business goals.
The point is that you can have a crystal clear idea of who you are as a photographer, and you can have the world's best website and marketing plan, but if you don't have people to lean on, experts to help answer your questions, and a sounding board for the times when things get rough, the success of your business will be in jeopardy.
If anything else, having people to support you along the way will help you feel less alone on your journey.
Being able to hear the successes of others and how they overcame the same struggles you face can sometimes be all you need to regain inspiration and the drive to keep pushing towards your goals!