Politics and Business
How to Start a Photography Business
Photography is a popular pastime, with many people spending their spare time out and about with their cameras in search of the perfect shot. While some amateur photographers are content to keep their love of photography as a hobby, for others, the dream is to make it a fulltime job.
If you have been harboring dreams of becoming a professional photographer, you may feel unsure about how to make the switch from employment to freelancing as a photographer. This article will explore the steps that you need to take to set yourself up as a photographer and how to make a success of your new business.
Boost Your Skills
Do you receive lots of compliments from friends and family for your photography skills? That’s a great start, but to establish yourself as a professional, it is useful to get some qualifications under your belt. Studying for a recognized photography qualification will help you to improve your skills even further. Having qualifications will also ensure that potential clients will take you seriously, and more likely to want to pay for your services. It could be hard to justify charging your customers professional photography prices if you have no tangible qualifications to demonstrate your level of skill.
Studying for a photography qualification will not only give your reputation a boost, but it will also help you to make useful industry contacts and significantly increase your knowledge of the subject.
Find Your Niche
It is unusual for a photographer to be a ‘jack of all trades.’ Instead, photographers usually focus their careers in a specific field. This is because different types of photography require different skills, and building up a high level of technical ability requires significant experience and practice.
Photography is a wide area and encompasses everything from newspaper photographers, fashion photography and product photography through to wedding photography, wildlife photography, and even underwater photography.
Focusing on a specialism makes it far easier to market your services, and also to build up a relevant portfolio of work to show prospective clients. Having a specialist area to focus on also enables you to establish yourself as an expert in your field, which will be a real benefit once you get established.
Establish Your Brand
Once you know your specialist area, it is time to start work on your brand. Think about what you want your business to convey through its branding. Would you like to be seen as a budget-friendly family photographer, or perhaps a high-end portrait photographer? Whatever the image you want to portray your business needs to be reflected in your branding.
When considering your branding, you will also need to think about your target audience. Who are the customers that you want to attract to your business? You will need to make sure that your brand appeals to the type of customer that you are trying to attract.
Develop a Business Plan
Writing a business plan may not sound like fun, but it is an excellent way to get all your ideas down on paper. A business plan brings together all the elements of your business idea into a tangible form. Your business plan is the first real step toward making your plans a reality. Without a business plan, your business idea has no direction.
To make a success of your business, you need to figure out the practicalities, such as costings, and understanding who your competitors are, each of these will be included in your business plan.
Focus on Finance
If you are planning to switch from fulltime employment to a freelance photographer overnight, then you could be setting yourself up for failure. Unless you have a significant number of clients already lined up, you could find yourself short of cash pretty quickly.
Many freelancers take a measured approach to launching their businesses. Dipping your toe in the water, to begin with, is a safer option. Maybe start your photography business as a side hustle, to start with so that you don’t lose the security of your paid employment. Working as a photographer alongside your day job can be a great way to figure out more about how the industry works, and to decide whether it is the right choice of career for you.
Create a Website
Every business needs a website, and for photographers, a website is even more important. Taking the time to get your website right is essential, as this is the place where potential customers will come to get an idea of your work. Take some time to search for the Best Photographers & Photography Website Builder so that you can figure out which website is the right one for your business. Constructing a professional-looking website full of fantastic images is the best advert for your business.
Showcase your best images on your website, as this will act as a digital portfolio of your work. To avoid people copying your work and passing it off as their own, you may want to include a watermark on the images that you put online.
Shop for Tools of the Trade
As part of your business plan, you will have drawn up a list of costs associated with establishing your business. One of the most significant costs involved in starting your business will be purchasing equipment. To prevent yourself from spending money before you have earn it, it is a good idea to start by buying the essentials that you need. Having significant financial commitments from the start can put you under unnecessary pressure. Once you are better established, you will gain a clear idea of the additional equipment that you need.
In the early days of your business, you will figure out what works best for you and how you like to work. Therefore, making bigger purchase decisions when you have some experience behind you is a better idea.
Promote Your Brand
Once you are ready to start work and have all the details of your business sorted out, you can begin to promote your brand. Establishing a business takes time, so anything that you can do to help to attract customers is worth doing.
Even businesses with the smallest marketing budgets can promote their business and raise awareness of their brand. Social media is an excellent place to start when promoting your business. Building up a following on social media can help to spread the word about your business and what you do. Social media can be used to direct potential customers to your website to learn more about your work. Social media platforms are also excellent for promoting any special offers that you may have running.
Build Your Client Base
To begin with, a lot of your attention will be focused on trying to establish a customer base and to start receiving regular bookings. If you are trying to build up more content for your website and portfolio, you may want to offer potential customers a discounted rate on your photography packages in the beginning. It is essential to be clear on what is included in this discounted price, so the offer isn’t misconstrued as your regular price.
Encouraging repeat business is also essential, so offering returning customer discounts, or discounts for friends and family of your customers is a great way to increase your bookings.
Newly-established photographers can also benefit from exhibiting at relevant trade shows and events. Wedding photographers can attract new business by having a stall at wedding shows and exhibitions. A stall at a wedding show enables photographers to meet potential customers in person and could lead to on the day bookings.
When building your client base, you will need to stay vigilant of people taking advantage of you being new to the industry. Unfortunately, photographers are often asked to work for free in exchange for images that they can use in their portfolio. Working for free is something that you should be wary of, so make sure that you don’t undervalue your services.
Don’t Forget the Admin
As every business owner knows only too well, a lot of your time is spent doing admin work. In fact, sometimes all the admin tasks associated with running a business can take longer to complete than the time spent actually taking photographs.
Scheduling photo shoots, replying to emails, and generating invoices all take time, and are critical to the smooth running of your business. Luckily, there are many excellent software programs available to help you with everything from taking care of your accounts, through to booking in appointments.
To gain a positive reputation, your admin skills need to be as good as your photography skills. Being well organized helps to maintain a professional approach to your business, and will enable you to offer the best customer service. Ideally, strong organizational skills and excellent customer service should be combined with your photography skills. Running your business efficiently and keeping on top of each aspect of running it will ensure that you have satisfied customers that are happy to recommend you, and return as repeat customers.