Starting a Photography Business
It's a challenge, and a little daunting, going from amateur photographer to paid professional photographer. But don't let that stop you.
Are there tens of thousands of photographers out there? Yes
Is the professional photography market saturated? No. I really don't think so. Almost everyone has a friend who takes photos. But not everyone knows a professional.
If you're reading this there are many many photographers just like you at the cliff's edge of starting a photography business, but don't quite know where to begin. And most don't move forward from there.
Let me tell you now, if you want to start a photography business, then go ahead and do just that. If you absolutely have the technical part sorted, in that you take great photos, what's stopping you? The easy bit is done (although you'll always keep learning and refining your skill).
Although I'm saying "do it", I'm not suggesting for a second that you go jumping off that cliff without considering a few other things.
Many photographers make the mistake of thinking they can just start a business because they're good at taking photos. This happens in almost every industry. Just because you're good at something technical like photography, or laying bricks, or baking, or floristry, that doesn't mean you can go right ahead and run a business. This is a common reason for small businesses failing very early on.
The next step for you is to learn about starting up and running a small business. You can take all the photographs in the world. Unless you take the time to learn what you need to do to start up and run a small business, with planning and consideration, you'll be intensely frustrated, want to give up, and probably fail.
Here are the fundamentals, I believe, you need to work through carefully.
This is essential. You really have to do the work here, on yourself. Because you're wanting to start a photography business, the most important factor within your business is going to be you. So it's important to do some work on yourself.
Us creatives are hard on ourselves. We compare ourselves to others and feel unworthy; we question our ability and feel we're not good enough; we suffer with self-doubt and hide ourselves and our work away; we worry about what people think.
Think about all the things you say to yourself internally.... "I'm not good enough"; "I'll never be as good as them"; "I won't earn any money at it". There's so much to take care of internally, and it only becomes apparent when you're embarking on setting up a photography business. You come out into a different arena, you get blinded by the competition, and it's daunting.
Creating a positive mindset, re-programming your thinking pattern will be a complete game changer for you. Not only will it help you successfully start up and run your photography business, it'll have such an enormous effect on your life too!
Here's an easy start to creating a positive mindset :
Practice being grateful, even for the little things.
Acknowledge and embrace all the great things about you and your work
Look to others for inspiration
Surround yourself with people who believe in you
Whatever you don't know about running a business, make a plan to learn more
Stop judging yourself negatively (and others)
Identify Your Ideal Client
It's good to identify and know who you're positioning your business in front of. Who your business is speaking to. For example, if you're a wedding photographer, you really want to be communicating directly with couples who are engaged, rather than to every single person on the internet.
Many photographers make the mistake of starting up a business without identifying their ideal client, and this just makes it harder to get the work they're looking for, and it can take the enjoyment out of your skill and passion.
So be clear about what it is that YOU DO, and this will help you to position yourself correctly and target the clients who fit what you do.
You absolutely need to have an identity. A brand. I had no such thing in the beginning and the results of that were a big fat ‘nothing’. I didn’t know who I was, and because I didn’t know…nobody else did?
Again, it's about being clear about what you do, your message, the look and feel of your business, the client experience you want to achieve.
Your brand isn't just about a logo and a colour palette. It's so much more than that. Your brand tells a story about you and your business, it resonates and connects with your ideal client. It's that thing that is special and identifiable about you and your business.
Think about MacDonald's. There's more to their brand than the 'Golden Arches' that you see everywhere. Instinctively, you know that beyond their logo, you're going to get food that's fast, easy to get on the go, inexpensive.....and so much more. You know these things about MacDonald's because it's (just a part of) their brand and identity.
Getting to grips with your brand identity can be tricky to get your head around. Right now, if you’re not branded, or even if you’re not sure, take a look at other photographers you like, look at their websites, their social media and everywhere they appear. See if you can see and feel their brand, their consistency, their message, their voice, exactly what they do. What is it about them that you like?
Also consider yourself as a consumer. Think about a supplier that you trust and buy from. Their brand is the connection between you and them, so take some time to identify what it is about them that inspires you to buy from them.
It doesn’t matter what your profession: photographer, shoemaker, baker, car mechanic…..
WE HAVE TO MARKET OUR BUSINESSES
Marketing a photography business is not as scary as it sounds, but like any business, marketing does need to be thought through and planned. If not, you'll run the risk of jumping on and off different social media platforms, running an assortment of ad campaigns, spending vast amounts of money and quite possibly achieve next to nothing.
What exactly is marketing? Well I can tell you what it isn’t………..it isn’t something to be afraid of. Not like it used to be decades ago. Remember the salesman that would show up at your front door? Or the cold calls on the phone (although there is still some of that these days). The advertising in the yellow pages or Thomson’s Local.
How to market a photography business?
Plan everything! Plan how you're going to approach putting you and your business out there, what social media platforms are appropriate for you, are you going to do hard advertising, e.g. in a magazine or newspaper or flyers/leaflets or in an online directory?
Take a step back and get clarity on
- exactly what you do as a photographer
- what you want to achieve
- who your ideal client is
- what your ideal client needs
- your brand message
- what you want your client to achieve
- your budget
- your pricing
Have a killer website that's branded and showcases your work. Your images need to be consistent in their look and feel, and showing the type of photography that you do, that speaks volumes to your ideal client.
Keep your website and your social media platforms in sync with each other, up to date and on brand.
Be consistent if you're serious about getting results. None of this happens over night. So posting and being visible for a week and deciding it's not working for you, definitely won't work for you.
Think about yourself again as a consumer. You'll find that you buy from consistent suppliers. So as a photography business providing a service to your ideal client, keep at it.
My eBook is out soon (May 2021) giving you lots of useful information and tips on all of this to help you plan, set up and run your photography business.
Until next time.