Everyone knows the saying, "if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life." While your career will be much more enjoyable, you will still need to put in some hard work if you want to be successful. Although there is a lot of competition in just about every industry, starting a photography business has its own unique challenges. When people look to hire a photographer, often, they do not know what qualities are essential in any good photographer. Therefore, you will need a clear business plan along with adequate skills, equipment, and more to stand apart from all the other photographers. Keep reading to learn how to start a photography business.
The Early Work
Before you can call yourself a business, you need to cover all your bases in the beginning. There are several components to form your business correctly, and most of these involve ample planning and paperwork.
In order to be successful, you first need to define what success looks like to you. Do you want to be the number one wedding photographer? Do you want to make enough money to quit your current job and do photography full time?
Once you define what success looks like to you, you need to set SMART goals for yourself and the business. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
An example of a SMART goal would be, I want to be the number one wedding photographer in my area on Google rankings in two years or sooner. This is a great goal because you name what you want to do, when you are going to do it, and how you will measure success. Additionally, you put a time frame on the goal, and it's realistic.
Develop a Business Plan
Just like any other business, you need to put a business plan together. Developing a business plan is one of the most critical pieces of your business, as it will help you make decisions based on your goals, competition, and so on.
At the very least, your business plan should include the following components:
- Executive summary
- Description of your business
- Market analysis
- Sales and marketing strategy
- Your pricing tiers
As your business grows, your business plan will likely grow and change as well.
Organize Your Finances
Every business needs money upfront to launch, and some companies need more than others. As a photography business, you will need several pieces of equipment that will make your career possible.
Additionally, you will need equipment for your office and post-production gear. However, you cannot forget that you will need finances for your business license and insurance as well.
Build an Awesome Website
Your website is where potential customers can see your work. Think of your website as your resume and portfolio because the site shows off your talent and skills.
That said, your website should look great because many customers will equate the quality of your work with the quality of your site. If you keep your website clean, organized, professional, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use, customers will be much more likely to click through.
Decide Which Services You Will Offer and Their Prices
If you choose to focus on a niche or specialty, such as wedding photography, choosing your services and prices is easier. For instance, many wedding photographers will offer different wedding packages. One package might offer four hours of shooting, another six hours, and the premium might be eight hours.
Also, each package tier may have additional benefits, such as a second photographer. Furthermore, some couples want parts of their wedding videotaped.
Many photographers that are in the beginning stages of their business offer a number of services. For instance, you might offer client-work or photograph community events and help local shops produce great content.
Some corporations want to take professional headshots of their staff. Whatever interests you, there are plenty of opportunities out there.
Equipment Your Photography Business Should Have
In all likelihood, most of your clients will not have experience in photography—hence why they are hiring you. However, it's still possible that they'll judge you based on your gear.
Your equipment should be in good condition and presentable. No one wants their wedding photographer walking around with a camera held together by tape. Of course, there will be some natural wear and tear, but that should be the extent of any damage.
Aside from having quality and reliable camera gear, you will also need a sturdy computer or laptop to help you with post-production. Also, you are going to need great software to help you edit your work before sending it to clients.
Additionally, you will need some equipment that will help you with the administrative work of running a business. For instance, consider purchasing accounting software to help you stay organized. Although you might not feel you need accounting software in the beginning, and that a simple spreadsheet will do, we would argue against that.
In addition to staying organized, accounting software will make your life much easier when it comes to filing taxes and developing financial statements; you will thank yourself later.
If you want to offer a unique service, you could print photographs for clients. However, in order to offer that service, you are going to need a high-quality inkjet printer—not a laser printer. The reason you do not want a laser printer for photographs is that toner color is not as accurate as ink.
So, how do you know which printer to choose? As a photographer, you may have some brand loyalty with Canon, and they make great printers for color printing. There are, however, several brands that make printers that would be great for the same use.
Now we know what you're thinking, aren't ink cartridges expensive? The answer is, in general, yes. Keep in mind, though, that not all ink cartridges are overpriced. To save money without losing quality, you could use remanufactured or compatible ink cartridges as opposed to the brand-name cartridges.
Whether you've had a business before, or this is your first time, starting a business from the ground up can be intimidating. This is especially true at the beginning with tight finances, paperwork with legal jargon, and a host of other headaches to tackle. Don't fret; just keep in mind these tips for starting a photography business, the rest will come together.
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