It’s no surprise that even the most experienced, professional photographers still make critical mistakes that hurt their business and bottom line. It’s often not even a matter of making photography mistakes. In fact, many of the most common mistakes the pros make aren’t directly associated with photography at all, but instead with the business side of things.
Know the pitfalls to avoid in your quest to become a pro, have a look at these five common mistakes that even the pros make.
Not Having Proper Insurance
One of the very first purchases that many photographers make after getting their kit set up is insurance. It’s safe to say that most photographers insure their gear because it is expensive and losing it, having it stolen, or somehow damaged could spell disaster for a business. Additionally, insurance to cover computers and other support equipment is needed, as are policies to cover business property, fire damage, a business vehicle, and real estate, to name a few.
How many stories have you heard about a photographer getting sued for negligence or wrongdoing of some sort? Photographers must have the proper insurance to protect themselves from these situations as well, which is often covered by an Errors and Omissions policy. This type of insurance protects you in the event that you make mistakes that cause a client to seek damages. Whether losing a memory card full of photos from the wedding you shot the day before or double booking clients for a studio session, these sorts of mistakes, as unintentional as they might be, could result in a lawsuit. As a small business owner with a reputation to uphold, a lawsuit could spell disaster.
An Errors and Omissions policy not only protects you from financial loss, but it also often covers legal fees, and in some cases will pay for an event to be completely re-staged. What’s more, this type of policy doesn’t kick in only when you’re in court, but rather provides you protection from day one so you can work without worry of causing irreparable harm. That’s peace of mind every photographer needs to have. Don’t make this mistake, read more about Errors and Omissions here.
- Source and used with permission: Package Choice
Not Keeping Up With Marketing
Marketing is one of those critical business activities that can make or break your success. At first, it might even be fun - writing blogs about your new business, creating YouTube tutorials, and being active on social media might be something you look forward to tackling.
As time goes by and your business grows, it can be difficult to find the time to keep on top of your marketing activities. You might neglect posting on social media for a few days, or even a few weeks. The blog that used to have new posts every week might be months overdue for a new article. Business cards might be old and out of date. With bookings from morning to night and all the other activities related to running a business, time to eat, sleep, and spend time with family and friends, marketing can fall by the wayside.
Marketing is vital to your ability to continue to be busy with bookings. If you stop advertising and stop interacting with potential clients, you will restrict your business’ footprint, and you might see a drop-off in the number of incoming phone calls and emails., No matter how busy you are, carve out time each week to keep your marketing fresh!
Spending Too Much on Gear
Gear lust is real, and it is a problem for photographers of all ability levels, and even for photographers that have been in the business a long time and should know better. The pros understand that a new camera body doesn’t equal better photos and that a $10,000 super telephoto lens isn’t necessary if their primary job is weddings or portraits. Yet, many professionals still buy gear they don’t need, if only to keep up with the Joneses and try out the latest, greatest photography equipment.
Just like buying a car, buying new photography gear is expensive and should only be done after a thorough examination of your needs, wants, and finances. That $10,000 super telephoto lens might be a lot of fun to play around with, but if it doesn’t help improve your ability to provide services to your clients, perhaps that money can be put toward a better purpose.
Not Accounting for All Expenses
An issue closely related to spending too much money on gear is simply underestimating the cost of doing business. Running a business is not cheap. Aside from all the expensive photography gear you really need (as opposed to that which you merely want), there’s office equipment, office supplies, fees for professional associations, insurance premiums, advertising costs, travel expenses, and so on and so forth.
When establishing prices, take all these expenses into account. Although charging $50/hour might sound like a really great hourly wage, after paying all the expenses, you might only be bringing home $25/hour. The point is, that all the costs of business add up, so be sure you’re crunching the numbers and establishing your pricing plan accordingly.
It’s one thing to take photos that you want to take. It’s another thing to take photos that clients want you to take. There will be plenty of times that your vision doesn’t jive with your client’s vision. There will be assignments that bore you, clients with whom it’s a struggle to get along. All these things can diminish your passion for your profession.
To keep the flame alive, it’s critical to set aside time on a regular basis to step away from photography the job and enjoy photography the hobby. Take a couple of hours here and there to go out and shoot what you want. Find 30 minutes one afternoon to edit some personal photos that have been sitting on your memory card. Go on a quick photography adventure with your kids, your brother, your husband, or some friends. The time away from the grind will go a long way in helping you retain your passion for photography, and that will show in the images you create for clients.