Photography is definitely one of the areas in life where more is less. Now that everyone has a smartphone and takes more photographs than ever with it, the general quality of photos is worse than ever! As a result proper, professional pics truly stand out.
Setting up as a professional photographer remains one of the most popular business ideas year after year. So if it’s an idea that appeals to you, you need to be aware that it is highly competitive. But if you are committed, able to do your homework, and are prepared to market yourself with a vengeance then you will massively improve your chances of making a success of your photography business. Here are our key tips for how to start a photography business.
Step 1. Decide on your photography niche
You need to find a niche. No one wants to hire a general photographer, we all want someone who is brilliant in a particular specialism. You may already have settled on a niche. If not, ask a few people to look through your portfolio and say what stands out. What do you want to be known for?
Specialisms can include weddings, sports, property, photo-journalism etc. Think about narrowing your niche even further if you can, for example, a portrait photography business can include sub-specialisms like baby photographs, graduation photos, and ID photography.
When you have decided on your focus you can start to build a brand and reputation in that area.
Step 2. Plan your business
What do you want and need to achieve with your photography startup? These are your business goals. Write down your goals and then list the steps that you will need to put in place to get there.
The plan should also include your ideal target customer and how you will connect with them.
The fundamentals of setting up a business are included in our guide which you can see here.
Step 3. Gear up!
Your photography equipment is likely to be the most significant cost for your business. It is critical that you have the best quality, most appropriate and reliable gear.
You will also need a backup camera, a range of lenses, high-quality flash and lighting, tripods and editing software.
You might also need specialised equipment like feature-packed passport photo software. Well-designed and feature-packed passport photo software, creating a 100% compliable ID photo will be a one-minute job. Besides, such programs might also come in handy later, once your business grows, and you start to employ people. That’s all because the most advanced ID photo makers also come equipped with business managing tools to monitor your employees, review your orders, and maintain a client’s data database.
Depending on your specialism you may or may not need premises. Many photographers work on-site so can set up or open up anywhere. You could run the business from home or hire pop-up premises while you get established.
Step 4. Build your portfolio
A photographer is only as good as the work they have done, so you will need to get a vibrant portfolio together as soon as possible. To begin with, that may mean that you have to work at a reduced rate or even for free to get the opportunity to bring together an outstanding collection of images. However, you can use reduced rates as a means to bargain additional benefits from clients. For example, you could agree to do cut-price property photos in return for business introductions and recommendations.
Step 5. Promote
Images are your business, so make sure that you have a beautiful website that showcases the best of your talents. At the same time, you need to protect your copyright by putting a watermark on the images you use.
Social media is made for image-based businesses. Select the platforms that are most appropriate to your target customer. For example, if you are aiming at a business audience, LinkedIn is the place to be. If you are in the weddings business, Facebook and Instagram are probably the best social media settings for your business.
Any opportunity to get into a situation where you can talk to potential clients can be very powerful as well. Look out for opportunities to attend or promote your business at specialist events or exhibitions.
The most powerful form of promotion is word of mouth. And that is a natural outcome from delighted customers. It will take time. But you can utilise elements of word of mouth advertising by asking customers for testimonials to put on your website and to use in social media.
As you can see, starting a photography business in itself is straightforward enough, if you break it down into do-able steps. With your talent, taking the photographs is the easy part. But if you want to turn that talent into a sustainable business, then you will need to be prepared to combine your creative talents with a clear-sighted business focus.