How To Build A Photography Business In 2018, Forget The Competition

(Last Updated On: January 6, 2018)


Build A Photo BusinessHow To Build A Photography Business

You want to live on own your own terms in 2018. The concept of doing what you love for a living sounds amazing. However, you may not be sure how to do it. Maybe, you have an established photography business. You may have read some online tips or watched a few videos, however, you’re still not sure about your next steps.

Building a profitable photography business in 2018 is not easy. Especially if you depend on your photography talent to drive your business.


Isn’t your talent what it’s all about? Unfortunately, the modern photographer can’t depend on their eye alone to grow a photography business. However, the successful photographer does understand that no-one else has their eye.

If you want to be successful photographer in 2018 and beyond, you must forget about the competition. There are too many great photographers in the world to concern yourself. When you focus on the competition, it derails you from your goals.

There is nothing wrong with finding inspiration from other photographers. I highly recommend you learn from the best and apply techniques which help you create powerful images, provide unique customer experience and in demand products.

However, your only real competitor is you. Compete against yourself. Establish weekly, monthly, and annual goals. Set your prices based on your cost of doing business and the value you bring to your clients. Develop your brand, which is your reputation — then sell it.

No! you got in to photography to get away from business, you don’t want to deal with selling. If this is your attitude, you will fail.

Below is a video to help you with some photography pricing ideas. You can also subscribe to my photography pricing channel here:

Link to video for email subscribers:

When you open a photography business, you enter in to an extremely competitive industry. It’s so competitive that nearly every person you see walking down the street can take a paying opportunity away from you, only by pulling out their smart phone.

This is why you must learn how to develop your personal brand. The photographers personal brand is not an option in 2018, it’s a requirement. You must sell your talent, style and reputation to people who don’t need you. You must make them want you.

The photographers personal brand is not an option in 2018, it's a requirement. Click To Tweet

How You Do It?

The first step is an awesome website. This is where you sell your services. Instagram is not your portfolio. A website is still a requirement for a serious photographer.

Instagram is not your portfolio Click To Tweet

Next you must decide on your social media platforms. I recommend you start with one and build out after you establish traction. Instagram is an excellent option to develop a community around your photography. However, for some photographers, Pinterest or Facebook is the best choice. You need to discover where your audience hangs out.

Consider going live. As much as showing your work is important to find your fans, so is your personality. 2018 will be a big year for live streaming video. You must be a part of the next generation of social media.

The only way to get going live right is to practice. There are a number of things you can talk about. Give a behind the scenes tour, chat about your favorite photography topics, such as,  subjects which inspire you, locations, posing and lighting. Ask a question, offer a question and answer session with your visitors. No mater what you do, acknowledge your audience, make them feel special and give them a reason to come back.

You can’t sell without a good call to action. This is true in your live streams, blogs and website. Make sure it is easy to contact you and people who encounter your work know exactly what to do to hire you. You’re best bet is to direct people to a web page, easy email or phone number.

Activity is the key. You must be active in your target community daily. If your target audience is local, then you need to get out of your home, office or studio and shake hands. When you meet in person, it’s helpful to have a handout, such as a postcard of your work.

Remember, no one has your eye. This means you can’t rely on your prospects imagination to understand and visualize your work. You must show them, online and off.

Your Marketing Plan

As important as social media is to the photographer, you must develop a full marketing plan. This includes campaigns to develop awareness of your brand, drive traffic to your website, improve conversions (sales) and a retention campaign to keep your customers coming back.

To develop awareness use your social media resources, however, if they are limited, I recommend advertising using Facebook and Instagram. To drive traffic to your website, both social media and ads do work, however, my favorite method is SEO (search engine optimization). Although it takes time to build website authority, I’ve found search traffic earns my photography business the most income.

Improving your conversions is about studying your calls to action, A/B testing your webpages and reviewing your analytics for positive and negative trends.

Retention is an important, yet often overlooked, piece to your marketing plan. To grow your company you need to keep your customers coming back. Communication is key. I highly recommend you use email to keep in touch with your current customers. Your biggest fans will check in on social media to see what’s new. However, you need to connect with all your clients on a regular basis.

Send reminders, give your clients ideas as to when they should consider their next session. Maybe you have an exciting new product, software or piece of equipment. Offer a demonstration with a blog, photo or video.

What Is Not Important

Although I have cameras and equipment ranging from high to low-end, I’ve created images for international, top ad agency campaigns with a Canon Rebel, mid-range lens and a single Alien Bee strobe. Yes, there are very good reasons to invest in high-end equipment. Yet, to create great images, the hottest new camera, gadget or software is not going to save your career. It all comes back to your eye, creativity and how you apply the photographic skills you learn along the way.

If you don’t have specific skills, either educate yourself or pass opportunities on to another photographers. It is better not to take a job, than to poison your reputation.

Kick 2018 Off Right

Pull your best work together from 2017 and update your photos cards and website. Commit to review and update your website at least every three months.

No photographer knows everything about photography. There is always something new to apply to your craft. Never stop learning. Seek out new technology, concepts, styles, workflows and strategies to improve your photography. Do this not to beat the competition, but to personally be a better photographer and improve your photography business results.

Don’t let the frustration of photographers with poor business skills deter you. There are always photographers who charge less. Heck, I’ve lost jobs to photographers who charge more, you want to be that photographer. If you have to depend on price, you are not attracting new clients with your brand and skill, you are bidding for them.

The downward spiral of the lowest price leads many photographers out of business. Ignore the competition, to worry about what they are doing, it does you no good. Build a brand other photographers wish to emulate and exclaim how can you charge so much!

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