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I figured since there are so many photography business tutorials out there that try to tell you what to do to be successful, that I'd go after this topic from the other side - what not to do.
And believe me, as a photography business person myself, there's plenty that you shouldn't do, at least if you want to build a business that's successful in the long-term.
Some of the photography business mistakes I outline below are ones that I'm guilty of committing. Fortunately, I've avoided others thus far.
So, let's talk business and find out how not to fail as a professional photographer.
Don't Go It Alone
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If you're like me, you prefer to do everything yourself.
The problem with that approach in business is that at some point, your business will require so much of your attention that you won't possibly be able to do everything yourself.
That means investing in the skills and talents of other people to help you reach your goals.
As a personal example, when I decided to start PhotographyTalk, the first person I hired was a website designer because I know absolutely nothing about website design.
After that it was a coder, and then a writer, and there was an accountant and an attorney and all sorts of other people in the mix as well.
And while I still keep my finger on the pulse of every aspect of my business, I've surrounded myself with people that I trust to handle their specialties.
Now, this doesn't mean that you need to have a staff of 50 people to help you run your photography business, but having people to help you out will make it more likely that you can build long-term success.
Don't Buy All New Gear
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Another common photography business mistake that I see happening a lot is photographers buying all new gear for their kit.
Granted, if the only camera you have is a 10-year-old point-and-shoot, yeah, you'll need to upgrade your camera. And, really, if that's all the gear you have, you're probably not as close to starting a photography business as you think, anyway.
But if you have a solid DSLR or mirrorless camera and a couple of good lenses, you don't need to buy a brand new Nikon Z7 or Canon EOS R.
Photography gear is expensive when you buy brand new, so by making do with what you have allows you to put your precious resources elsewhere.
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If you really do need new or additional gear, don't buy new.
Instead, see what deals you can find on high-quality used gear, that way you can fill out your kit without breaking the bank.
I've used MPB a number of times, and I've been incredibly impressed every step of the way.
They have a great selection of cameras, lenses, and other gear, and their inventory is always expanding, so virtually no matter what you need, you can be confident you'll find it.
Something else I've appreciated about working with MPB is their grading system.
Each and every item is inspected and graded, that way you know if it's in pristine, like-new condition or if it's been loved a lot over its life.
What's more, their prices are very competitive, they offer fast shipping, and if you need a few bucks, you can trade in or sell your old gear and use the proceeds towards buying something you need.
Saving money, especially in the early stages of your business, is crucial, and by making smart investments in used gear, you can put your hard-earned cash towards other critical needs, like paying people to help you build your business.
Don't Neglect Marketing
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When it comes down to it, you won't have to worry about letting people help you or finding ways to afford gear if you don't devote a big chunk of your time to marketing.
Without marketing, people won't know that you're in business, and without people coming through your door, your business will obviously fail.
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Marketing goes well beyond making a Facebook page and posting things each day.
You need a website. You need a portfolio. You need business cards as well.
You also need to "pound the pavement," so to speak, and actually interact with potential customers.
Find ways to get involved in the community, introduce yourself to other small business owners in your area, or join the Chamber of Commerce so you can make connections with people.
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The point is that your marketing strategy needs to be well designed and multi-modal. The more people you can reach with your message, and the more people that see your photos, the more customers you'll have calling and e-mailing you with requests for appointments.
I know these three tips seem simple enough, but when you have a million things on your plate as a new business owner, it's easy to neglect each one.
Make these areas a particular focus as you grow your business, and you should find that they help you create something that's successful for the long-term.