Photography is an integral part of our everyday life, especially in the age of social media. Platforms like Instagram are picture-heavy, enhancing the demand for photography businesses. That’s not to imply that social media is the only thing fueling the business. Other niches include wildlife photography, wedding photography, and other endless possibilities.
To add icing on the cake, you don’t need a formal degree to earn a good livelihood in photography. However, you need business skills to ensure your photography business makes it in this cutthroat market. Here are some tips on how to start a photography business.
First, Have a Business Plan
A good business plan will help you identify where your photography business is going. You will use it to structure, run, and expand your new business. It is important to note that a business plan is not a one-time document. Even after you have launched the business, you will constantly refer to the business plan to find your path. Besides, the business plan is a crucial tool for getting funding for your business. You can use it to persuade financiers or partners to work with you.
Assess the Startup Costs
There are several costs involved in starting any business, and photography is no different. Besides having raw talent, you also have to crack the numbers. If we are being honest, quality photography equipment can be notoriously expensive. Therefore, if you are on a tight budget, you can forego top-of-the-range equipment until your business starts making money. Apart from the equipment, you have to assess other costs. These include:
- Business licenses
- Studio and office space
- Website development
This assessment will help you come up with a comprehensive financial plan.
Starting a photography business can be expensive. Maybe it needs more than you have in your savings account. But that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dream since you can always ask for assistance. Lucky for you, there are several options. These include getting a small business loan from a bank, utilizing your credit card, and investment from friends and family. You can weigh your options by considering factors like the repayment period and interest rates. No matter which option you pick, you will need a business plan that outlines how you intend to spend every penny and how you plan to pay it back.
Still, on the topic of money, it is essential to note that your photography business might take some time before it breaks even. Keep that in mind when devising a repayment plan. It is also essential to come to terms with the fact that your personal finances might take a hit before the business starts bringing in money. That might mean making adjustments like working another job to stay afloat until your business stands on its feet.
Create a Photography Portfolio
In most cases, your photography portfolio will be a potential client’s first point of contact. Therefore, you can’t afford to get it wrong. Think of your portfolio as your brand on display. This is not a step that you work hurriedly through–you need to give it some thought.
The first thing you need to work on is a digital site. We are not talking about posting your work on your personal Instagram page. While there is no harm in that, having a dedicated page for your business would be best. And remember to look beyond social media since not everyone is on social media. You can consider other sites such as Wix, Format, and PhotoShelter. You can also take it a notch higher and create a hard copy of your portfolio. It might be helpful when you meet face-to-face with a potential client.
Remember, if your portfolio is too broad, potential clients might see it as disorganized. That’s why picking a specialty or two would be a good idea. Take time to decide how you would love to be defined as a photographer and stick to that.
As a rule of thumb, never get attached to photos. Sometimes you work hard on a piece, and it just doesn’t turn out right. That’s okay. In fact, it will happen a lot in this business. So, the sooner you learn to accept, the better.
Build a Website for your Photography Business
Having a website for your photography business is one of the best steps you will ever take. Besides being an excellent way to display your work, it also reduces dependence on third-party platforms. You can display your work how you want it without adhering to other platforms’ aspect ratios. A website also gives you a chance to tell your story. This gives your business a human side, which goes a long way to appeal to the masses. In the future, when your archives grow bigger, you can organize that work on your website. Think of it like an online gallery.
Another benefit of having a website is that you can use SEO to reach more potential clients. If you learn how to use it to the fullest, search engine optimization is such a powerful tool. You can also earn extra money through affiliate marketing on your photography website. The more traffic you have, the more lucrative the opportunities get.
Networking Will Work Wonders
Although digital marketing is the talk of the town, nothing will ever beat the power of human connections. That is why even if your business is entirely digital, you should be open to connecting with potential clients.
We understand that meeting new people can be terrifying–especially if you are introverted. But if you think of the benefits, it is worth doing everything you can to overcome the fear. Focus on the bigger picture, and it will get easier. Remember to bring your business cards–they will serve as a reminder for the people you meet to reach out to you.
Another important networking tip that most people overlook is finding relevant events. You don’t want to waste your time attending an event that doesn’t have potential clients for your business. To avoid falling for this trap, ensure you learn as much as possible about an event before signing up for it. For instance, if you are an event photographer, attending an event with gallery curators might not do much for your business.
Don’t forget to hone your listening skills. Don’t be those people who go on and on about themselves, denying the other person a chance to say a word.
Draw the Line When it Comes to Family and Friends
Your family and friends will always be a huge part of your life. Your new photography business is also about to become an integral part. However, you don’t want those two aspects to overlap because it can get messy pretty quickly.
For instance, when your friends and family come to you with their photography needs, you might be tempted to give them a considerable discount. While there is nothing wrong with giving a discount, you have to keep in mind that you are in the business of making profits. That’s why having a standard policy for them is crucial even before you start the business.
Hiring your friends and family can also be a grey area. If you choose to go down that route, ensure that you hire them for their skills and talent, not just to be polite. Otherwise, you will hurt your business. You also have to communicate boundaries from the word go. Most importantly, don’t skip contract signing to avoid unnecessary quarrels down the road.
Come up With a Marketing Strategy
You can be the best photographer in town, with the best rates. But without proper marketing, your business will never take off the ground. While they say that good work speaks for itself, you must put it out there. You can take advantage of marketing tools like Google ads. You can also consider inexpensive techniques like email marketing–an excellent way to get repeat customers. Blogs are also essential. You can use a blog to establish authority in your field. When people believe you are knowledgeable in your niche, they can trust you with their photography needs.
Never Stop Learning
Photography is evolving daily, and only the flexible will make it. Therefore, you can’t afford to be rigid. Even after you have mastered these tips on how to start a photography business, you need to keep your mind open to new trends in the industry and see how they can work in your favor.