When setting up a photography business, there's plenty to think about.
You have to come up with a name, find a location for your office or studio, and file all the necessary business paperwork to form a legitimate business.
There's also designing a logo, having a website created, getting outfitted with the necessary photography gear, and starting advertising.
Yeah...it's a lot!
Given how much is on your plate as you start your photography business, it should come as no surprise that many budding photographers make a lot of mistakes.
Eliminating those mistakes is likely impossible. However, by educating yourself about some of the pitfalls you face, you can at least minimize your mistakes along the way.
Here are three common mistakes photographers make when setting up their business. Watch and learn, so you avoid these same problems.
Mistake #1: Not Networking Enough
Even though you own your own business, you certainly aren't an island.
Operating in a vacuum isn't going to do you any favors when it comes to setting up your photography business and building it into something successful.
That means you need to network with other professionals in your area to build up your connections in the industry.
For example, if you're a wedding photographer, make it a point to introduce yourself to other professionals that serve the wedding photography industry.
That means going to the local bakery and flower shop, stopping by the printers, visiting with dressmakers, and so on.
Simply introducing yourself to these people so they can put a face to the name can help you generate business.
In fact, if you can come to mutually agreeable terms, perhaps you can leave some business cards at their place of business in exchange for having some of their business cards in your studio.
What's more, as you develop these relationships, you will find that people are willing to share their secrets for success.
Even better, there might come a point in which you can team up with another service provider to offer special packages for mutual customers.
For example, you might work out a deal with the florist such that you both offer a small discount if the client books you both for their wedding.
The point here is that there are plenty of reasons why you should put networking as one of your top priorities when you're setting up your business.
Not only can it help you get advice from established professionals, but it can also lead to more business for you!
Mistake #2: Not Having a Studio Assistant
Like I said earlier, even if you're the sole proprietor of your photography business, you aren't an island.
Having help running your business will prove invaluable to you as you build it into something that's successful and long-lasting.
For some photographers, that means having a second shooter to help them at large events like weddings or corporate gigs.
For other photographers, that means farming out editing duties to a third-party to free up time to tackle other business activities.
But what all photographers can benefit from is having a virtual studio assistant that keeps you organized and on track.
If you ask me, the best photography assistant is Iris Works.
Iris Works helps you nail everything down on the backend of the business - all the stuff that takes a ton of time but that your customers rarely see.
Here's a prime example:
You'll spend a good deal of time scheduling clients. Iris Works makes this incredibly easy by helping you maintain a calendar of activities with daily to-do lists.
That means you'll never forget a client meeting or double book a photoshoot because Iris Works keeps track of all your appointments for you.
It's easy to see all your backend tasks in Iris Works' dashboard, seen above. Think of it like a snapshot of your entire business on a single screen.
Just open the dashboard, and you can see everything from what you have on your schedule for the day to what your clients have been up to (i.e. who's paid their invoices and who still has bills outstanding).
Just one look at the dashboard and you're all caught up on what's going on!
Here's another example:
One of Iris Works' many features is a Client Portal that keeps your client information nicely organized for easy access.
You can add details to client profiles like their birthday, anniversary, or their kids' birthdays so you can send thoughtful greetings on their special day.
You can add email addresses and other contact information to send clients details about upcoming promotions.
You can even use the Client Portal to organize leads you get from your website. Adding potential clients to your contact list has never been so easy!
What all this means is that with Iris Works, you spend much less time chasing paper and doing administrative tasks. With more time on your hands, you can focus your attention on things like networking, getting referrals (more on that next), communicating with clients and potential clients, and the like.
Iris Works does a whole lot more, too - from managing invoices to collecting payments from clients to creating contracts and automating client communications.
In short, if you want to get your business started on the right foot, you need Iris Works. It can make all the difference in the world. Just ask their satisfied customers!
Mistake #3: Not Asking For Referrals
If you aren't asking your clients for referrals, you're not doing yourself or your business any favors.
Though networking is essential, when it comes down to it, a potential client is going to value the input of a friend or family member (or even a consumer they don't know) over the word of a florist, baker, or another business person regarding your worth as a photographer.
That means that you need to work out a solid plan for asking for and obtaining referrals from your satisfied clients.
Obviously, the key to getting a referral is to delivering an excellent product, having outstanding customer service, and going above and beyond to ensure your clients are completely satisfied with their experience working with you.
That means you need to be remarkable in every way. Your images need to be breathtaking, your communications with your clients need to be timely, helpful, and friendly, and you need to put the needs of your clients first.
By focusing on delivering the best images and the best customer service experience, you put yourself in prime position to have a customer that's blown away by your efforts and is more willing to spread the word about you to the people they know.
Get more insights into getting more client referrals for your photography business in the video below by Leah Remillet:
When asking for a referral, it's important to do so at points in your business relationship that are most likely to prove fruitful.
For example, asking for a referral when you send the invoice isn't a good plan.
Even if they are overjoyed with your work, no client is going to find a sizable bill all that exciting.
Instead, ask for a referral when you send a few sample images for your client to review.
Tease them with the best three or four images to get them excited about what else you have to deliver, and approach the subject with something like this:
Working with you has been a wonderful experience, and judging from these photos, I think you'll agree! I'd love to work more with folks like you. Do you have acquaintances, friends, or family members that are in need of photography services?
Note how there's no beating around the bush. You offer a compliment (working together has been wonderful) and then get straight to the point asking for a referral.
There are other ways to ask for referrals, too. You can send a letter or offer a discount for future services if someone the client refers procures your services. You can ask for a testimonial to go on your website or create referral cards to hand out to clients that they in turn can give to friends and family.
The point is that, just like networking, you need to work at getting referrals. You'll find that it will become your primary means of getting new clients and will greatly impact the success of your photography business. Pair those activities with the most effective studio assistant, and you'll have a recipe for business success!
Let's have a good ol' fireside chat, just you and I...
I'm going to be very candid with you on a few items that I just absolutely love and think you would benefit from having in your camera bag.
This list of five photography gadgets is based on my experience using every single one of these things...
That means I've put in the time and effort to get to know these products firsthand, so you've got a reliable resource to depend on when outfitting yourself with new gear.
I want to reiterate - I'm genuinely excited about each and every one of these products. This isn't just lip-service!
These things have changed the way I approach photography, and I want you to have the same kind of experience by using gadgets that make it easier to take better photos and manage your photography business.
Let's start off with the small device pictured above.
It's plastic, kind of funny looking, has a number of knobs on it, and pivots at one corner. It's called Handlepod.
What's so special about this thing?
I'll tell you...
You see, I can be lazy at times, to the point where I just don't want to carry much more than my camera with me.
On those days, I'm talking about taking my Sony A6300 and one lens.
This means no tripod.
The problem is, if the lighting gets too dark, getting a sharp still shot is nearly impossible without cranking up the ISO to 1,000,000.
OK, this camera's ISO goes nowhere near there...however, you get the point.
This HandlePod gadget is perfect for such occasions. It fits in my pocket and does the job of my tripod when I'm traveling light.
Technically, it does more than what my tripod can do...
You can use it as a freestanding mini quadpod, as a handheld stabilizing device, or even attach it to a tree, a fence post, or another stationary object for hands-free use.
In short, it's not only lightweight, easy to carry, and versatile, but it's also quite inexpensive too. I love this thing for that very reason!
3D Flex Flash WYNG
The 3D Flex Flash WYNG is simply light modifier awesomeness. I'm not even sure that's a word, but that's just how stinking cool this thing is.
Personally, I don't do a whole lot of flash work. But when I do, I want the best product.
I also want something that doesn't take up a ton of space in my bag because I'm one of "those people" that stuffs his bag full of gear, and often have way too much gear for what I'm doing (let alone to fit in my bag).
That's one of the things I like most about WYNG - when it's not in use, it's incredibly compact.
I can place this thing pretty much anywhere in my bag because it's 3D printed from a single piece of durable, flexible plastic. See it in action in the video below:
In fact, you can crumple the thing up and put it in your pocket, and when you're ready to use it, it reshapes itself as though it was never smashed and folded.
There's also no other parts - no straps or velcro or buckles. You simply slide it on your flash, and you're ready to go.
Did I mention it's crazy affordable too?
In the world of big and bulky light modifiers that are overpriced, this 3D Flex Flash WYNG is nothing short of genius!
Alpine Labs Pulse
Speaking of tiny gadgets that pack a big punch...
Do you see that little guy sitting on top of the camera in the photo above?
That's Pulse by Alpine Labs. Cute, huh?
But trust me when I say this thing might look nondescript, but man is it a game-changer.
Pulse is basically a camera remote, only better in every single conceivable way...
For starters, you control Pulse via a smartphone app. That means you can set up your gear, then have a seat (or a nap!) up to 100 feet away thanks to Bluetooth connectivity.
And I don't just mean you can fire the shutter from the app...
Nope, Pulse is much more powerful.
You can adjust exposure settings like aperture and ISO. You can get real-time image previews of the photos you take. You can check the exposure levels of those photos by scoping out a histogram - all on your phone. See what I mean in the video above...
But you get the picture here. This thing is beyond rad.
BUT, that's just part of the story.
Yep, it's that versatile!
All in a package that can easily fit in a side pocket of your camera bag (or you can stuff it in your pocket with your WYNG)!
Grip & Shoot
I think it's probably the understatement of the century to say that smartphones have become legitimate photography and videography tools.
I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I've gotten some pretty impressive photos and videos on my iPhone. I'm sure you have too!
One of the things that has enabled me to improve my results with my smartphone camera is the gadget shown above.
The Grip & Shoot is the ideal tool for taking photos and videos.
It enables wireless control over your phone, so you can easily do what needs to be done while maintaining a solid grip with just one hand.
Grip & Shoot even has integrated buttons (three of them!) that allow you to zoom in, zoom out, and fire the shutter. You can also start and stop video recording, all from the Grip & Shoot's handle.
That means no more photos with your fingers protruding into the shot because your hand will be far away from the lens, comfortably holding onto the Grip & Shoot. In fact, with Bluetooth 4.0, Grip & Shoot lets you control your phone from up to 100 feet away.
Better still, Grip & Shoot has an open API, so if you have some programming know-how, you can make the Grip & Shoot's buttons do whatever you please.
That's not a bad deal if you ask me!
Ok, so this last one isn't a gadget you can carry in your camera bag, but it's an innovative product that I think you'll agree is something that is extremely useful.
It's called Iris Works, and it's just about the best studio management software around today.
After getting in there and playing with the program's features, I came away totally blown away by just how much Iris Works has packed into one package.
I'm not the most organized person in the world, but Iris Works has helped me overcome that problem.
It has a to-do list function, so I know what needs to be done. It has a calendar so I can quickly see the projects I've got coming up too.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg...
Iris Works does things that will just blow your mind.
Want to know what the weather will be like for your shoot tomorrow? Iris Works can tell you...
Need to send out client invoices in a timely fashion? Iris Works fits the bill (pun intended!).
Do you have contracts to create and send out or payments that need to be collected from clients? Iris Works does that too.
It'll even let you scope out locations and send your clients directions to the shoot - all without leaving the Iris Works interface.
When I say that this thing is the ideal personal assistant for a photographer, I mean it!
At the end of the day, these gadgets have opened up a whole new world for me as a photographer - one that results in better photos and better organization.
That's an awesome feeling, but so too is getting these gadgets without breaking the bank.
But, as I've experienced, each of these products is worth its weight in gold - and more, if you ask me!
Just a couple of weeks ago I caught a flight over to Las Vegas to spend the day at WPPI.
I caught up with a ton of friends in the industry, and had a chance to check out a bunch of vendor booths as well.
There are a lot of great companies at WPPI that have fun, interesting, innovative, and helpful products and services for photographers.
While I was there, I put together a short list of companies that really impressed me.
Unfortunately, I came down with the flu soon after WPPI, so I'm a little late getting this out. Better late than never, though!
Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories
As you can see in the photo above, the folks at Sew Trendy had a busy expo with a non-stop flow of people checking out their product line.
I met the Founder and CEO of Sew Trendy, Valerie Best, a year or so ago, and I have to say that the way she's grown the company and her commitment to providing photographers with the highest quality products is really impressive. It's not surprising that Sew Trendy has been so successful and that their products are so in demand because Valerie is one of the hardest working people in our industry.
I managed to elbow my way through the crowd to scope out some of Sew Trendy's newest products, and they certainly didn't disappoint.
Their J'Adore Velvet Collection of maternity gowns really impressed with Sew Trendy's signature beautiful lines, impeccable construction, and, of course, that awesome stretch velvet material!
Belly Beautiful Photography
Sew Trendy has some new newborn photography offerings as well, including the Newborn Mesh Wrap shown in the image above.
This wrap is made of a stretchy knit that's not only soft, but is extremely easy to work with, so you can snuggle the baby up and get beautiful shots.
But the most impressive product I saw at Sew Trendy's WPPI booth was the Charity Rainbow Skirt.
The skirt is crafted of gorgeous, bright rainbow colors that give an expecting mom a light, airy aura in her photos.
These handcrafted skirts not only look great, but 20% of the proceeds of each skirt (and all of Sew Trendy's Rainbow Baby items, for that matter) are donated to Primary Children's Hospital to help families offset the costs of pediatric ailments.
A lot of people recognize the name Sirui, and associate it most often with tripods.
I have a long history with Sirui. They're one of my favorite companies. In fact, I have a W-Series tripod from these guys that I wouldn't trade for the world.
It's waterproof and dustproof, which is awesome since I take a lot of shots at the beach. Additionally, my W-2004 model has a built-in monopod that comes in handy when I want to travel fast and light.
And while Sirui makes some really, really good tripods, they certainly have more to offer than that.
Like their tripods, Sirui monopods are well-built, easy to use, and have handy flip leg locks that make setup and breakdown a breeze.
These things are incredibly sturdy, too, and give you smooth panning rotation and swiveling.
But my favorite Sirui item I saw at WPPI is their new Three Lens Mobile Phone Kit.
The kit has you covered with an 18mm wide-angle lens, a 60mm portrait lens, and a fisheye lens to capture creative, mind-bending shots.
Each lens has multi-layer anti-reflection coating so you get high light transmission and precise colors with 4K image quality.
And with minimal vignetting and distortion, these things will help you snag some awesome photos with your phone!
I've gushed about Holdfast many times in the past...
Every time I run into Matt Swaggart, founder of Holdfast, I feel like I'm running into an old friend. That's because Matt's developed a company that focuses on the relationships with its customers as much as it focuses on creating incredible products.
And even though I own some of their gear, I'm always surprised how taken aback I am when I see their stuff at expos like WPPI. It's simply some of the most beautiful photography gear I've ever seen.
You can see the sheer volume of selection in their MoneyMaker line in the image above. But that's not Holdfast's only claim to fame...
If you've never experienced the joy of seeing and feeling (or using!) one of Holdfast's Roamographer bags, man, are you missing out!
Like the MoneyMaker (and everything else Holdfast makes), the Roamographer bag is gorgeously designed and beautifully made.
Not only is it an eye-catching bag, but it's incredibly durable, made of Great American Bison leather that only looks better and better with time.
Add in a removable camera insert that cradles your gear, carrier straps to carry your tripod, and a shearling-lined shoulder strap for comfortable carrying, and you have the makings of a piece of gear that will quickly become your new best friend!
One of my favorite booths to visit at any expo is Ikan because they have a mountain of gear available and I love checking out the latest, greatest stuff that will help me take better photos.
At WPPI this year, Ikan had a huge display of NiSi filters, which I've been using for about three months now.
Let's just say that I'm really glad that I picked up a NiSi V5 Pro Filter Kit, as it has not disappointed thus far!
Not only are these filters made of cinema-quality glass that gives you clear, sharp results with spot-on colors and minimal aberrations, but the V5 kit also comes with a filter holder, adaptor rings a carrying case, and cleaning supplies.
Add to that a soft-edge grad, a reverse grad, and a 3-stop, 6-stop, and 10-stop ND filters, and you have the makings of a complete filter pack for landscape photography.
I've only had a chance to use my new NiSi filters a couple of times, but I can tell you this - they are among the best filters I've ever used, and they will be part of my kit for a very, very long time.
On top of that, the new faces I met at the Ikan booth at WPPI impressed the heck out of me. This company is in good hands, that's for sure!
If I were to describe the people at Skylum using just one word, that word would be fun.
Don't get me wrong - they aren't just a great group of people to hang out with. They also take their work very seriously.
I'm a huge fan of Lightroom, if for no other reason than it helps me keep my photos nicely organized. For someone that isn't the most organized sometimes, that's a godsend.
But I have to say that when it comes to editing my photos - most of which are landscapes - I turn to Skylum for their superb Aurora HDR 2018 and Luminar 2018 software packages.
There's plenty of reasons why Skylum's software is my go-to these days.
But chief among those reasons is that it's simple and effective.
I can literally cut my editing time in half by using Luminar because it comes preloaded with presets that make editing my photos a breeze.
There's over 40 non-destructive filers, LUTs that offer one-click options for simulating color grades and film stocks, and the ability to make your own custom presets, too.
It's a truly innovative program from a truly innovative company. If you want to boost your productivity in post-processing, give Skylum a Look!
The fine folks pictured above are from Calotype, one of the most innovative photography companies around today.
If you've never heard of Calotype, get ready to be impressed...
I first met these guys at Photo Plus in 2017, and I have to say that I admire their dedication and hard work as much as I admire their product.
Speaking of which...Calotype is a web-based suite of tools for professional photographers that improves your management of day-to-day tasks that helps you streamline how you spend your precious work day.
In particular, Calotype is geared towards photographers that work in high-volume areas like sports photography or school photography. Why? Because Calotype tracks all that client data for you - names, dates, photo packages - you name it!
Calotype even helps you organize images, create encrypted image galleries for your clients to view, customize pricing lists, manage email marketing, and so much more.
In short, it's like having an office manager without having to pay one!
I've known Spider Holster's CEO for the better part of eight years now, and the dude is an absolute machine.
He's always on the forefront of innovation, coming up with new and exciting products that the photography industry needs. He's a bit of a mad scientist in that regard...
It's hard to capture the essence of Spider Holster's gear in a simple photo like the one above.
That's because their stuff is something you really need to see and use to believe just how good it is.
Their Spider Pro dual camera holster is a feat of engineering and design that makes shooting a much simpler, streamlined task.
With your cameras on your hips, you not only have easy access to your camera to take quick shots, but they're also out of your way. No more worrying about stupid shoulder straps getting in the way!
What's really impressive about the Spider Pro is that it moves with you. In other words, you don't feel bogged down by your gear, nor do you feel restricted in how you move around.
Even with a long lens attached to your camera, you have excellent freedom of movement to get the shots you want with the confidence that your Spider Holster has your gear safely secured.
If you're a wedding photographer, I can't think of a better piece of kit to have. It's that good!
I've known the CEO of Iris Works for a few years, now, and I can say that her winning attribute is the laser focus she brings to the photography industry.
You can see that laser focus in Iris Works - it's a software package that is specifically designed to help you get a handle on everything you need to do.
Iris Works has tools that address every part of your business. It's got a calendar, billing and invoicing programs, and automated messaging so you can keep track of your appointments, invoices, and communications with clients.
Not only that, Iris Works gives you the ability to create contracts, galleries for individual clients, and maps with your favorite shoot locations.
You even get a daily snapshot of what's going on in your business, so you can see on a single screen each task you need to complete for the day.
Not bad, right?
I think we can all agree that the fun part of being a photographer is taking photos and interacting with clients.
I think we can also agree that the less-than-fun aspects of photography are all the business tasks that seem to take up so much of the day.
You know, managing tasks, creating contracts, following up on leads, and so forth.
These are necessary evils of the self-employed photographer, no matter how much time they eat up over the course of the day.
But what if I told you that there's a way you can simplify the business side of photography and spend much less time managing your studio and much more time actually taking photos?
The big secret, you ask?
It's called Iris Works.
Iris Works Gets You Organized
I've been called a lot of things in my life, but organized is not one of them.
The life of a photographer and a business owner is a busy one, and things just always seem to pile up. I'm sure you know the feeling!
That's what's so great about Iris Works - it gets you organized so that you don't waste precious time trying to remember what you're doing today or what invoices still need to be sent out.
Iris Works gives you a studio dashboard where you can see your entire business life all on one page. And when I say "your entire business life," I mean it!
There's immediate access to your to-do list, your calendar, and what projects you're working on. Heck, it'll even tell you what the weather will be like for your shoot tomorrow.
That means that in just a few seconds of interacting with the dashboard, you know exactly what's going on that day to keep you on track.
Speaking of Keeping on Track...
Iris Works includes many handy features, including one called Workflows that keeps you at the point of the spear, so to speak, that way no important task ever passes you by again.
You can set up timelines so you tackle necessary tasks in a timely fashion and manage the to-do lists I mentioned above, complete with due dates so you know what needs to be done and when.
What's more, Workflows helps you stay on top of sending out client questionnaires and invoices too. You can even load your email templates right into Iris Works and incorporate them into your Workflows for seamless, automated communication with your clients.
That means that if you typically send an email to a client asking questions after they book with you or to remind them of what to wear before their session, you can now have your virtual assistant, Iris, do it for you. You still get that all-important personal touch in your emails, but without the hours and hours of work to do it.
Iris Works Handles Contracts (and other paperwork Too)
One of the biggest pains of being a self-employed photographer is all the documentation that's required.
You need contracts, of course, and you need to keep track of who's signed them and who hasn't.
You need to create invoices, send them out, and collect payments as well.
That's a lot of paperwork, to be sure, but Iris Works streamlines the process of chasing all that paper.
You can create custom contracts for any occasion and even send them electronically for an e-signature. That makes it incredibly easy to track who's signed what. And that's not limited to client contracts, either. You can send and track model release forms, and print releases with Iris Works as well.
What's more, Iris Works gives you the tools you need to create invoices for each client. Not only that, Iris Works will send your invoices, track who's paid and who hasn't, and send your clients a receipt once they've paid.
You can even see your annual revenue to keep tabs on your income, and with integration with PayPal, Square, Stripe, and Quickbooks Online, Iris Works even makes collecting payments super easy. That's a feature that is sure to get your business off on the right foot!
Scout Locations Without Leaving Your Studio
Do you have a photo shoot in an unfamiliar place?
Don't waste time driving out there to scope things out...
Iris Works includes a scouting feature that allows you to look for shoot locations and even store them in Scout. You can identify your favorite go-to spots on a map and mark them with a mapping pin so it's easy to find your spots later on.
You can even store images and notes about each location, that way you have more details to determine which location might suit your photo shoots the best.
Better still, sharing the location with your clients is easy as well. With a few clicks, you can send the location to your client - complete with directions - without having to leave the Iris Works interface.
Talk about a slick feature!
Your Clients Get Something, Too
Iris Works makes sharing the images you take with your clients a breeze as well.
All you have to do is create a profile for your client, then upload their images using the Iris Works gallery feature, or connect with ShootProof, a more robust gallery option for those who want to offer products.
Set password protection on the gallery so only your clients can access it, and if you choose, give them the option to download their images digitally for their instant gratification.
That means that not only can you manage your client's account from Iris, but you can also communicate with them, send them invoices and contracts, direct them to shoot locations, and deliver their images right from within the Iris Works Interface.
That makes this software the studio assistant you always knew you needed, but could never seem to find.
That wait is over, my friends!
If you truly want to streamline your business and improve your bottom line (who doesn't?!), Iris Works needs to the next addition to your studio.
If you don't believe me, let Iris Works prove the proof is in the pudding. Give it a try free for 30 days to see what a positive difference it can make in your business life.
It goes without saying that if you want to build a successful photography business, you have to be adept at communicating with your clients.
That means every email you send, every meeting you have with clients, every phone call that you answer, and every post, tweet, and blog you write needs to be on point.
Of course, the problem is that no one gets into photography because they write great emails or love to talk on the phone...
That means that a lot of us might be lacking in the communication skills department.
That's where this quick tutorial comes in!
If you're not all that confident in your ability to communicate with your clients in a consistent, professional, and effective manner, try these easy tips.
The way you communicate in person, via e-mail, on your blog, and so forth needs to be along the same lines as you communicate in your photos.
By that, I mean this: There is a time and a place for formality, but more often than not, simply being personable, candid, and friendly will go a long way.
Yes, there need to have boundaries, and you need to do and say the right things when communicating with your clients. But don't take the need to be professional with being cold or distant.
Just like you strive to help people connect with your images by triggering an emotion or a feeling, recognize shared emotions or feelings with your clients.
For example, if you have kids you can use that experience to relate better to a maternity client. If you're married, you can parlay your knowledge to wedding clients.
You get the point...
People don't just seek you out as a photographer because of your photos. They do so because of who you are too. Whenever you communicate with clients, show them who you are, and your communication will be more successful.
There's no way around it - the best communication is timely communication.
This goes for current and prospective clients alike.
For example, if you've just wrapped up an engagement session with a client that hasn't yet hired you for their wedding, don't wait for months after you deliver their engagement photos to talk with them about their plans.
A better strategy would be to give them a follow-up call or email a couple of weeks after you deliver their engagement photos.
But...the focus of your communication shouldn't be, "Hey I photograph weddings too!"
Instead, focus first on being grateful for their patronage, and inquiring about how they like their photos or if there's anything they need from you.
Only after you put their needs first should you bring up the topic of their wedding. And even then, you should strive to be authentic and not pushy.
The point here is that you have to strike a fine balance between being an effective salesperson and being genuine and honest. You have to be timely without being pushy too. That takes time to master, believe me!
Streamline Your Communications
One way to be timely (and informative) is to work on things you can do to streamline your communications as part of your efforts to simplify the business side of photography.
For example, a lot of clients ask the same questions - How long before I get my prints? What should I wear? How much do your services cost? - and so forth.
Rather than answering the same questions over and over, find a way to communicate those things to potential clients.
This could be something as simple as a FAQ section on your website. You could also email them to prospective clients as part of your sales pitch.
On another note, your mass communications need to be streamlined as well because you'll have precious little time to devote to posting regular blogs, social media posts, and emails to clients.
For example, sit down and write several blog posts in one sitting, and then schedule them to publish a couple of weeks apart. That will prevent the "I'll do it tomorrow" line of thinking that often turns into weeks without any new blogs on your website.
Similarly, you can automate social media postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth. Again, schedule posts in bulk so you have a constant stream of posts to keep your subscribers engaged and interested.
When it comes to emails, using a platform like Iris Works allows you to use email templates (pre-made or customized) to send out at any time, for any occasion.
What that means is that you can still send emails to clients that have that personal, friendly touch, but because sending them is totally automated by Iris Works, you don't have to spend a ton of time putting your emails together.
When you're in business for yourself, there can be a temptation to try to do everything on your own.
What you'll likely find going down that path is a lot of stress and frustration that takes away from your ability to provide your clients with the best products and services.
I'm not saying you need to hire an army - far from it.
But what you can do is arm yourself with the best photography management system around, the aforementioned Iris Works.
Iris Works is the ideal studio assistant because it helps you achieve all the communication goals outlined earlier - being personable, timely, and streamlined.
Remember the automated email function? Well, Iris Works has tons of other features that help you be a master communicator.
In the Iris Works dashboard, you can see your daily to-do list, so you have reminders right at your fingertips for sending out emails and other communications.
With Workflows, Iris Works reminds you to send invoices, questionnaires, and emails, so you're always on top of timely communication.
Iris Works even allows you to send contracts and get e-signatures for quick turnaround time, and then you can keep all your important business documents in one place, nicely organized, right in Iris Works. Talk about streamlined!
But that's not all of Iris Works' excellent communication features...
Sending out contracts is one thing, but Iris Works tracks which contracts have been signed and which ones haven't, that way you know which clients need a little nudge to get their paperwork in order.
What's more, after you send an invoice, you can collect payment via PayPal or Stripe. If payment is past due, Iris Works keeps track of that as well.
If that doesn't knock your socks off, consider this: You can even use Iris Works to send clients login information and passwords to their image galleries, and with the Scout feature, you can even give clients precise directions to a shoot location.
The bottom line is that you have too much to do as a photographer and as a business owner to do it all on your own.
When time is of the essence, having a studio assistant like Iris Works not only helps you maintain consistent communication with your clients, but you can also deliver images, send invoices, get paid, and a host of other business-related tasks. And it's a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring a human assistant!
Don't keep struggling to stay on top of your day-to-day to-do list. Get Iris Works and discover what it's like be organized and maximize your efficiency!
Starting a photography business can be a stressful, time-consuming task.
But do it right, and you can build a business that is successful for years to come and provides you and your family with the income you need to lead a good life.
There's a lot that goes into making a business successful, and if I'm honest, the cards are stacked against you.
It's a fact that most businesses fail within the first year. Heck, not that many survive past two years, and fewer still are in business a decade down the road.
As with anything, building a successful business requires a ton of preparation.
The groundwork that you lay now will be a crucial element of how successful your photography business will be.
Though this isn't a comprehensive guide on jumpstarting your photography career (that's available here), what's included below are a few simple and quick steps you can take to be sure that you're starting things off on the right foot.
Let's have a look!
Goals, Goals, Goals
I'm not really a goal-oriented person in my personal life, but you can bet that I learned how to set goals in business.
Having something to work towards gives you and your business direction. In the short-term, goals can help you sift through everything that needs to be done just to set up a business (i.e. creating a business plan, securing financing for a studio or office space, setting up a website, having a logo developed, etc.).
Long-term goals help frame everything you do in the short-term in terms of how they will help you achieve success in the future.
Basically, having tangible and attainable goals helps you develop a roadmap for success. Achieve one goal, then move on to achieve the next one, then the next one, and so forth.
It's easy to become overwhelmed by everything you have to do as a business owner. It's also easy to get stuck on the little details when you should be looking at the big picture.
Developing goals for your business will help you avoid both of those things and focus on what you really want - developing a successful business.
Efficiency is Key
Here's a newsflash that many beginner photographers don't want to hear...
When you start a photography business, the vast majority of your time will not be spent taking photos.
Instead, you'll be managing your books, answering phone calls and emails, scheduling appointments, sending invoices, and so forth.
In other words, you'll be as much (if not more) of an office manager as you will be a photographer.
Granted, those tasks are a necessary part of business, but they don't have to consume all your time.
Efficiency is key here, and outfitting yourself with the right virtual assistant can help you build a streamlined operation.
For me, the best option to get your photography business in order is Iris Works.
To start with, Iris Works keeps you organized so you minimize the amount of time trying to keep track of what needs to be done and more time actually getting those tasks completed.
Iris Works features a dashboard (shown above) with your calendar, a to-do list, and even an overview of all your current projects.
And that's just the beginning...
Iris Works also includes something called "Workflows" that allows you to set timelines for projects, create the aforementioned to-do lists, and even send invoices to clients so you're sure you don't miss billing anyone. You can also create messages to clients and schedule the messages to go out at specific times. Timely, consistent communication with your clients really has never been easier!
What's more, Workflows has pre-loaded templates for many of these tasks, so you can save time not having to build your own (although, Iris Works lets you build custom templates if you want).
Yet another primary task that Iris Works can handle for you is doing all of that documentation...
You know, creating contracts, sending invoices, and collecting payments.
Build your own custom contracts right within Iris Works, and send them electronically for your client's signature. Do the same with model release forms too! See how to create and send a contract in Iris Works in the video above.
When it comes time to bill your clients, just send your invoices through the Iris Works platform, and you can easily track which clients have paid and which ones haven't. You can even send an electronic receipt once payment is received.
If it seems like I'm gushing over Iris Works, it's because I am! And I'm not alone...
This is a game-changer for self-employed photographers - believe me!
Check out Iris Works and see all the other incredible features it offers to help you streamline your workflow and develop a strong, successful, long-lasting business.
Spend Time on Marketing
You can take the best photos in the world, but if you aren't able to market yourself and your work, it's going to be tough for you to stay in business very long.
One of the behind-the-scenes tasks you'll need to tackle is marketing your business.
Now, this can mean a lot of different things, but at its heart, your marketing strategy should serve to not just get your name out there amongst the buying public, but it should also be geared toward differentiating you from everyone else.
Photographers are a dime a dozen, and as the new kid on the block, you need to prove that what you offer is better than everyone else, including the photographers that have been at it for awhile.
When you market your business, be sure you have a consistent message.
That message should focus on your personality. Why?
In a sea of photographers, you are the only you! It's the simplest and most effective way to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Who you are impacts everything you do, from the style of the photos you create to the manner in which you interact with clients.
The question is, how do you incorporate your unique personality into your branding?
It's simple - use mediums that allow you to showcase who you are.
Post photos to Instagram to showcase your artistic style.
Make YouTube videos to introduce yourself to your clients and show them who you are as a person.
Write frequent blog posts talking about your workflow or offer educational tips about taking photos or processing them.
The point is that putting an ad in the paper saying, "Hey, I'm a photographer, and I'm open for business" isn't going to do much for you.
Instead, focusing on getting your name, your face, and your personality out there will get you started off on much stronger footing.
Check out more tips for boosting your photography brand in the video above from Vanessa Joy and B&H Photo.
Take Time for You
The quickest way to burn yourself out and start to hate photography as a business is to push yourself too hard.
Yes, there is a lot to do - perhaps much more than you initially thought.
But burning the midnight oil each and every night and neglecting your mind and body is not going to do you any favors.
When you're self-employed, it can be extremely difficult to get yourself into a schedule, but as I've found, setting some boundaries for when you do and don't work can do wonders for your spirits.
That means that when the clock strikes 6:00 pm (or whatever time you choose), make it the end of the day. Resist the urge to check email, edit one last photo, or add a few more things to your to-do list.
Additionally, make sure you take breaks during the day to recharge your batteries. Take a quick walk. Grab a snack. Text your kids. Just step away for a moment a few times a day, and I promise you'll find that you can get more done (and with a better attitude).
Combined with setting tangible goals, streamlining your workflow with Iris Works, and focusing on marketing, you'll be well on your way to building a successful photography business!