- Choose Your Business Structure
- Choose and Register Your Business
- Photography Business Tips: 3 Essentials You Need Before You Start
- 12 Tips for Using Facebook to Grow Your Photography Business
- 5 Steps for Starting Your Photography Career
- Fact vs Fiction: A Day in the Life of a Self-Employed Photographer
- Start a Photography Business While You Still Have a Day Job
Anyone can start a photography business...
But not everyone can start a successful photography business.
If you aren't fully prepared and committed to the process, finding success as a photographer will be hard to come by.
That's why you need to make sure you've laid a solid foundation upon which to build your business.
The question is, how do you do that?
Here's a few ideas for getting started off on the right foot.
Get the Legalities Worked Out
You're not a hobbyist photographer anymore the second you start charging people for your services.
And once you do that, you need to have a sound business structure in place so you can keep track of your earnings and debts, collect taxes on your services and products, pay income taxes, and so forth.
That usually means registering your business with a government entity, perhaps in your town or city, at the county courthouse, or with a state-level agency.
The difficulty is that the requirements for registering a business vary from one area to the next, so you'll need to do some digging regarding what you need to do in your specific location. Check the "Learn More" links at the end of this section for resources on what you might need to do.
When you register your business, you'll likely have to do so with a business name. You might also need a tax ID number, unless you opt to use your social security number for that purpose.
It's also a good idea to consult with professionals that can help you in this process. An attorney, for example, can handle the paperwork of establishing your business. An accountant can handle the books. Talk with an insurance agent to get your studio, office, and gear covered.
In other words, it's a long process to get the foundation laid for your business, but the more you concentrate on these tasks, the better off you'll be down the road!
Get some deeper insights into starting a photography business in the video above by Jeff Rojas.
Set Up Your Online Presence
In today's world, if your business isn't online, it will die.
Now, this doesn't mean that you have to hire a professional web designer to build you a custom website with e-commerce capabilities.
What's important is that you have a website to show off your work, perhaps with a blog to engage with customers and potential customers as well.
Heck, if all you need is a portfolio, your profile page on PhotographyTalk will do the trick!
The point is to get your images on your website along with your contact information, that way you can capitalize on the popularity of the internet to help build your business.
But don't neglect social media in all this, either...
Using sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr to promote your work and engage with potential clients is as important as having a website.
The key is to choose perhaps two or three social platforms and use them regularly - every day, if at all possible.
The more engaged you are on these platforms, the more followers you'll get, and the more eyes you'll have on your work!
Get additional tips for marketing your photography business in the video above from the Joy of Marketing.
But Don't Forget to Engage in Real Life...
As important as it is to have a solid online presence for your business, nothing beats actually putting your face to your business name by shaking hands and kissing babies.
Ok, so maybe not the kissing babies part...
But engaging with others in real life is crucial to building your business because there's no substitute for interacting with people face to face.
Where someone might enjoy your photos online, they might never think to hire you as their photographer until they meet you, talk with you, and learn a little bit about you as a person.
Another benefit of engaging with people in the community is that it's a great way to network and get referrals. See what I mean in the video above by PhotoMint.
Make it a point to introduce yourself to other local business owners and see if you can strike a deal to get referrals.
For example, if you specialize in senior portrait photography, go to local school events and introduce yourself to teachers, parents, and administrators. Volunteer your time to photograph school dances. The point is that by seeking out connections in the community that are related to the type of photography you do, you'll set yourself up for success in the short and the long term.
Go Easy on New Gear
When I started my business, the first thing I did was buy a decked out iMac with a giant screen.
I justified it by thinking that it would not only enable me to be more precise with my photo editing, but it also looked really awesome on my desk.
In retrospect, neither of those were good reasons to drop $2,500 on a new computer when the two-year-old MacBook I had at the time was more than sufficient for doing what I needed.
I mention that because I think it's hard for most of us to reign in the desire to buy all this fantastic new equipment for our business.
Trust me, you don't need that awesome new computer or a brand new camera body.
If you got to the point that you're ready to be a professional photographer with the stuff you already have, then you've got the goods to make a successful run at building your business.
Now, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy gear that you need. If, for example, you want to be a portrait photographer and you have no studio lights, then, yes, that's a necessary purchase.
But if you have a good camera and lens that works well and you know how to use, there's no point in buying a new camera and a new lens.
Save that money for more prudent purchases (or for a rainy day fund), and you'll find that in time, you can afford to buy new gear when you need it.
Being successful in business is all about knowing what to do and when. Hopefully, with these few tips, you'll have a better idea of how to start a successful photography business.
For more inspiration for starting your own photography business, check out the video below by Lauren Ashley: