Set up a Facebook page for your business and begin posting details about your products and pricing, sales and promotions you’re having, and the like.
Get involved on Twitter and post helpful information for the general public and other photographers alike. Post regularly to keep followers engaged. Be sure to include original posts and promote helpful content other people in the industry are creating as well. Do your best to limit unprofessional sort of posts, like memes or controversial statements.
Get on Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and other platforms that will allow you to show off your work. When posting your images, add short captions explaining how you created the image or other helpful details that demonstrate your value as a photographer and your knowledge of your craft.
Sole proprietorship - This is the most basic type of business and places all the responsibility on you and you alone. Whatever assets you have are yours, whatever liabilities you encounter are yours as well. There’s no one else to take the spotlight for your success or take the blame for your failures!
Partnership - A partnership allows you to share the business ownership with one or more people. Each partner in the business contributes in some way - including labor or skills, money, property, and the like. Each partner shares in the profits and losses.
Limited liability company (LLC) - An LLC provides each member with similar limited liability features as found in a corporation, as well as the tax breaks of a partnership. LLCs are not taxed as a stand-alone business entity, rather, all profits and losses go through the business to each member.
Work as a second shooter for a more experienced photographer.
Volunteer your services with a local non-profit.
Work on projects of personal interest that allow you to build your skills and which inspire your creativity. Taking time to enjoy yourself and enjoy taking photos is excellent experience!
Start a blog or a YouTube channel in which you discuss tips, tricks, and secrets to photography success. Not only will it give you practice building your own skills, but it will also position you as a photography expert and help build your online following.
Being told you will fail isn’t what anyone wants to hear. The unfortunate fact is that most photographers fail setting up a successful business. In fact, the vast majority of you will crash and burn shortly after
According to Forbes, 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. That’s a startling statistic! It’s an astounding failure rate, but get this: Inc.com reports that 96% of businesses fail within ten years. If you thought that starting your own business would be easy, let alone building something that lasts you for your working life, think again!
There are many reasons why photography businesses fail. Some photographers don’t know how to connect with their potential customers. Others just dive in without any sort of business knowledge. Many don't differentiate themselves in the market and simply blend in with the crowd. There are also photographers that make rookie mistakes, like not having proper insurance, that in itself can end up wiping you out financially.
With all these potential obstacles waiting for you, and business failure statistics staring you in the face, you might as well give up now, right?
The odds may not be in your favor, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tangible solutions to epic failure. In reality, many solutions that can help you be successful for the long-term are simple, easy-to-implement, and just common sense.
With that in mind, here are a set of golden tips to help minimize your risk and increase the odds of weathering these ominous future forecasts.
Cover Your Butt
I’m not talking about pulling your pants up... I’m talking about making sure your photography business has the right insurance coverage.
How many times have you seen headlines in which a photographer lost it all, had to close up shop, and join the unemployment line, all because they skimped on the proper insurance coverage for their business or they didn’t have it to begin with? To make a go of your photography business, it is absolutely essential that you read the fine print and get the right coverage for your gear, your office equipment, and business personal property.
What’s more, cover your butt with professional liability insurance, that way if there is an error or omission on your part (such as failing to get the photos you need because of mechanical failure), you’re covered in the event of a lawsuit. Additionally, you need general liability insurance in the event that a client is injured on your property or in case you cause harm to a member of the general public as you work. We live in a climate in which suing others is a go-to reaction for everything, so having yourself covered and covered well is essential to your success.
There are many options to get insurance for your photography business, but we recommend a company called Package Choice. These guys do one thing and they do it the best: cover photographers with the right insurance that meets their needs. Package Choice will collaborate with you to develop the right policy plan for you and your business. With this customer focus, they seek to provide you with what you need, at an affordable price, and without taking up a lot of your valuable time. With a wide variety of policies and endorsements, it’s the right choice - the smart choice – the package choice, if you are to beat the odds and build a successful business.
Have an Online Presence
In today’s world, everyone has a website, don’t they?
If you want to be among the few business owners that truly makes it, you absolutely need a website. Websites have become so darn inexpensive and so easy to create, that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have one. Companies like Smugmug and Zenfolio are great partners for budding photographers because their website solutions are specifically designed with photography in mind. Show off your photography, set up an online store, and get your name out there to potential clients with relatively little work involved. It just makes sense to have an online presence!
Connect With Potential Customers
Clearly, success will be hard to find if you don’t spend a great deal of time interacting with former, current, and future clients online. What’s the best way to do that? Social media!
I bet you didn’t see that one coming! LOL...but seriously, if you’ve been under a rock for the last decade, social media has kind of become the primary tool by which businesses interact with their customers. Sure, you need a website to give your potential clients detailed information about you, your products and services, and give them a way to explore the fantastic work you do. But you need to support that with frequent posts on popular social media channels.
Here’s what you need to do:
Remember - social media is a great avenue to share information, but don’t bore your clients to death with long posts about your Photoshop workflow! Be fun, creative, and engaging. Doing so will help you build a following and get more clients through your door.
Set Up Your Company Correctly
Having your business set up properly will ensure that you can create a business that stands the test of time. Naturally, discussing the type of business you set up with an attorney and a CPA will be the best route to take. Here are a few possibilities:
There are many other types of business structures you can choose. The best bet, as noted above, is to consult with a professional to help you establish your business to meet your specific needs and goals.
If you’re ready to build your own business, it might sound beneath you to get additional experience in photography. After all, if you’re at the point of establishing your brand, you should have all the skills you need to be successful, right?
Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. Photography is an endeavor that requires constant learning, and that can really only occur by gaining experience. Sure, you can read all the tutorials you want, but there’s nothing quite like getting out there in the trenches and immersing yourself in the work.
You can do this in a variety of ways:
There’s also the matter of joining other professionals to learn and grow together. This might be a local photography club or a nationwide group like the Professional Photographers of America. The value of interacting with other photographers is twofold: first, you can learn from other professionals, and second, you can network with photographers that might be able to refer business your way, or at the very least, give you insights on how to build a more successful business.
Find a Business Mentor
Most photography businesses don’t fail because of a lack of skill or a desire to create compelling images. Instead, photography businesses often fail because of the business side of things. Remember, professional photographers aren’t just photographers - they are bookkeepers, receptionists, social media gurus, and dozens of other things as well. The sooner you realize that and embrace it, the more successful you will be.
To help you figure out the business end, seek out a mentor that has a track record of success in small business. Your mentor doesn’t even need to be a photographer - just someone that can give you tips and insights into all the tasks related to running and managing a successful business. Don’t just look for a buddy to have drinks with and complain about how hard your business life is! Connect with a respected member of the business community who is ready, willing, and able to lend you a hand in becoming a success.
There’s obviously a lot more that goes into building a successful business, but the tips we’ve offered here certainly point you in the right direction to avoid an epic fail. Above all, take measures to protect yourself and educate yourself, and do so knowing that it will take a lot of time to get your business off the ground. In fact, it might be years before you turn a profit, let alone make a good living. That means that if you are to be a successful photographer be willing to wait it out, take the good with the bad, and make the best preparations you can to ensure success.