Beginning steps to starting a successful photography business
Do you love taking photos? Have you ever thought about taking your passion up a notch and enter into a photography business? There are so many things you need to know- where do you begin? Believe me, I did ALL the wrong things when I started out. I started taking on clients and learning how to do photography before I even had a style or a niche. HAHA- you can read about my first journey here:
First of all, you need to know what type of photographer you want to be. Do you want to shoot newborns? How about food? I found my niche in lifestyle families, seniors and weddings. I do take on the occasional newborn- but I don't advertise it. This is all part of learning where your strengths are. Now, I can be empowered to say "no" when I see people wanting me to do things outside of my strengths. Read my blog for more wisdom on saying "no" as a photographer here:
Once you know what type of photographer you want to be, you can begin buying the gear that you need to do your job. I ended up not knowing and buying thousands of dollars worth of "gadgets" thinking that was what I needed. Read about the gear I use for weddings here:
Start looking professional before you really get deep into jobs. Don't do what I did. I just started a facebook page and started making up random logos on powerpoint. Luckily, I was learning how to do graphic design at the same time, and I finally settled on a logo and branding style and colors. But believe me, this is the number one way that beginning photographers can be picked out- when their design is all over the place! Make a partnership with a good designer or learn how to use apps like "blog stomp" or buy etsy-made logo and branding packages.
Yes, it's important to get a business license in your city. And yes, it's a pain in the butt to do taxes and keep track of your earnings.. but I don't regret it! You can never be too careful now-a-days. Most weddings venues won't even let you come until you have insurance and a business license. Also, being sued is a HUGE fear of mine. So I wanted to make sure all of my ducks were in a row.
Getting insurance for all of my important cameras and lenses costs me a total of 10 dollars a month through my local insurance company- but so worth it! If your gear gets stolen at a wedding or gets damaged- you don't want to try to buy 10,000 dollars worth of gear again!
Social media is imperative to get into if you looking for a great way to connect with your clients and get more word-of-mouth power. I don't even take on a client unless I know them through facebook and I can check up on them- This world can be a scary place! Also, social media is FREE advertising for your business! Learn how to be consistent and use it daily to let people know that you are around and you mean business! Out hustle all the other photogs in your area through the power of social media!
Getting a website is HUGE for your marketing and business. I know it's 15.00 a month average to host on showit.com, wix.com or squarespace.com, but DO IT! your own space on the web is KEY. Simplicity is key. Don't worry about having the fanciest website. Just have a clear, concise and clean layout and it will look professional! Also, most people are on their smart phones. Never have a website that doesn't look good on a mobile device.
I didn't realize the power of blogging until 5 years into my business. Blog at least once a week about things that don't have to do with photography- that way google can find you and you will begin to have a pinterest following on your ideas and thoughts.
Using hashtags on twitter and instagram in the key to getting more likes and shares. See how i do it here:
Before I book a client, I make them sign a waiver and model release. That way I know that I am protected. It also allows me to use the images for website and marketing- which is HUGE for my business. I do a waiver to let them know that we will be running, jumping, sitting or any other thing that I need to have them do to pose. I would hate for them to get hurt while doing photos with me!
Of course, you always find family members or friends to start off with first. And being mentored by a pro and shooting with them is IDEAL, before you get started. That way, you have some images in your portfolio already.
NEVER leave your photos on your computer sitting around. Always under-promise and over-deliver. If you say on your website that you will return 5 digital images in two weeks- make it 10 images in 3 days- surprises are what seperate you from another photography business. I have a 2 week turn-around time online, but in reality, I can get an entire wedding done in under 4 hours. See how I do it here:
Also, have a system for backing up and storing your images.
Have a system to make your client LOVE their photos. I use pixieset for all my client galleries. It looks amazing on any size device and my clients love the layout. Here is a sample of my pixieset page:
Here is a sample image gallery for a client session or wedding. They simply click on a image to purchase or to download!
My feed blows up with likes comments and shares from taking the time to update my social media EVERY TIME I have new images. Every time I do a session or a wedding, I blog it, pin it, tweet it, instagram it, facebook it and slideshow it!
Saying thank you is lost sometimes with digital media. I made a handwritten note with a "Thank You" $20 off coupon and a business card and I personally send it to them. For weddings or engagements, I am sending a canvas or a photobook.
Make your customers feel so excited that they made the right choice working with you- let them talk you up to all their friends!
Look around you for places and ways that you can help!
I would love to see how this has helped in your photographic journey!
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