Photography has become a popular hobby and profession in recent years. Driven by growth in social media and the decrease in how expensive good equipment is, photography has become a popular business idea. Do not let that discourage you. It simply means you need to prepare for a competitive market.
The first step in any new business venture is to define the purpose of your business. What type of photography do you want to do? Do you want to do this as a side hustle or a full-time job? Knowing these answers before you get started will help clarify the next steps to establishing a successful business. To start:
- Develop a business plan. Unless you will need outside financing to start your business, this does not need to be a formal document. It just needs to state the purpose of your business and what your goals are for your one and five-year mark. You should also include your ideas about how you plan to start marketing your business and how you plan to fund your business. Do you plan to work exclusively on family photography, wedding and event photography, or nature photography? Determine your niche before launching your business.
- Determine your start-up capital. How much money will you need to invest in getting started in your business? At a minimum, you need:
- High-quality camera equipment suited to the type of photography you plan to do. In considering equipment cost, factor in having at least two cameras with two high-quality lenses. You want to make sure you always have a back-up as nothing can drive clientele away faster than an equipment malfunction that delays a shoot.
- Computer equipment and editing software to provide customers with digital copies of the pictures you take.
- Marketing capital. Word of mouth and social media are great marketing tools. However, to grow your business, you may need to consider paid marketing.
- Make a plan for your finances. Whether you are planning a full-time enterprise or a side-job business, you need to have a tight handle on your personal finances. Be clear about what you can invest and what type of return you need to see to meet your goals.
- Create a stunning portfolio of your work. A portfolio will be the primary way you convince clients that you are the photographer for their needs. Make sure the work in your collection showcases the type of photography you want to sell. Find a way to make your work unique from that of other photographers. Do you excel at finding the perfect outdoor spot for family photos? Do you have a knack for identifying the most flattering light for any subject? Emphasize these strengths in your portfolio.
- Come up with a pricing plan. Pricing is always a tough decision for new photographers. Start with valuing your time. How much is your time worth per hour? Then assume the formula that every one hour of photography will need three hours of editing. Every one hour photoshoot will take a minimum of four hours, so price yourself accordingly.
- If you can, invest in a website. Facebook business pages are a good marketing tool, but it is not the best way to showcase your work and book clients. A great website is like a brick and mortar store for photographers. If you can’t justify the expense of a professional website, make getting one a goal in your first year of business.
Be patient. It takes time to grow a successful business. Treat each client as if they are the most valuable. Referrals are the best way to grow a thriving business. Enjoy the journey, and continue to cultivate your love of photography.