How to start a photography business

*Updated Post: How to start a photography business in 2016

Starting a photography business is  big step.

Please listen to this warning.  Having family and friends hire you and tell you your photography is great is not reason enough to go out on your own full-time.

How will you know when the time is right?  When people in your circle, family and friends refer you to people outside your circle.  This is a sign of trust.  Once the referrals come at a consistent pace you should evaluate your progress. It may be time to take the next steps.

For some people, starting part-time is the right answer.

The first thing you need to understand is what you are about to do is start a real business. Understanding business is important. The competition in the photography industry is too great.

Decide what type of photography you wish to focus on and who would be interested in hiring you or purchasing your images. This is called finding your target market.  One thing I recommend is that you discover your and.  You need to separate yourself from you competition.  The reality is everyone with a camera or smart phone is your competition.

Add up all your expected expenses. Include everything such equipment, rentals, gas, insurance, set materials, assistants, processing time and how much you wish to make in a year.  Then divide the number of assignments, days or hours you expect to earn over the next year. Use your current history as a benchmark, not what you hope or think the number should be. This will give you a realistic gauge as to how much you should charge.  I often recommend per image pricing. If you are still unsure compare prices of other local photographers.

Don’t be the cheap photographer.  This business practice is a race to the bottom.  The only way being the cheapest will work is if you are Wal-Mart.  You’re not Wal-Mart.  You are a professional.  Photography buyers don’t give the big or important jobs to the cheap photographer.

Make sure you keep a list of your rates easily accessible so you will properly estimate all projects.

Develop your branding style and look.  I recommend you hire a good designer.  It will make all the difference in the world in terms of making your business look professional.  Keep the key elements of your look consistent throughout your paperwork, business cards, sales materials and website.

You must have a website.  If you are a photographer and you don’t have a website, you are not in business. Start with a website using your very best images.  Make it is easy to contact you; list the ways on every page.  Don’t expect people will click over to a contact page or fill out a form to do business with you.

Make it easy to do business with you.

Contracts are important to protect you and your clients.  Make sure you keep your copyright unless someone pays for it.  The only real good reason someone would need to purchase your copyright is if they plan on reselling your images.

People are the secret to your success.  Network, network, network.  Connect with people online and off.  Never stop. Everyone is an opportunity for a referral.  Make sure you encourage and reward people who refer new business to you.  These are your fans, supporters and champions. They must be cherished.

Never stop learning.  Photography, business and marketing rules are always evolving.  Read books, watch tutorials on YouTube, take classes, workshops and seminars.

Go to work every day.  If you work for a company, you are expected to be on the job at least 40 hours.  Each day you must prospect for work and do the work you were hired to do.   Keep developing better and more efficient workflows, better techniques, and improve your marketing.

Remember, the day you think you have arrived, that you can let up on the gas pedal, is the day your business and photography begin to decline.

What would you recommend to someone starting a business?



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