10 Tips for the Business of Photography
After rebranding my photography business just over a year ago, I have learned a few things about being in a "new" type of photography business that focuses on "commercial photography/videography" and "business portraiture" vs "wedding photography" and "family portraits." Information that I don't think the average person considers when they decide to take the plunge as a full time photographer, no matter the type of photography you decide to pursue.
1. Set Goals
When I was photographing weddings and families, I would just promote, educate, work and hope that I was making enough money. Advertising was spread all over and the age of social media wasn't nearly what it is today. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants, but for the beginning of my time in this photography style I was learning and crafting my style. But, I didn't understand that goals help you to not only grow your style, but grow your business.
When I transitioned my business, the first thing I did was create a business plan and set goals. It helped me to see what the market looked like, where I could stand out, what I wanted to grow my business into and gave me new ideas on how to achieve those goals by getting out of my original business comfort zone.
2. Ask for Help
You never know when someone might be able to help you or how. Last year when I was trying to grow my business in this new direction, I saw a friend/business owner who posted that she was experiencing great growth and attributed it to her business coach. So, I asked how it worked and who it was and she ended up putting me in contact with a great guy who helped me to be able to afford taking his classes, which I wouldn't have otherwise been able to take. Keep in mind, I was still starting out and didn't have a lot of extra cash flow for such a thing. But I learned everything I could while I was there and it was great in developing sales and business skills that I had never known I needed.
PS. I think everyone should take classes like this if you are looking to start a business. If you want help I suggest contacting Greg Orth from Sandler Training! He's amazing!!
Find your local Chamber of Commerce and take classes or just go to mixers. Also, we have a local SCORE mentorship program which I have become a mentee of recently. I suggest you look into them if you really want the best for your business!
3. Set a Schedule
Remember, it's your business that you're running. Figure out if you are going to have regular 9-5 hours or something else. I have a wonderful wife, and 2 beautiful daughters that keep me very busy beyond my business. My wife has normal business hours for work from about 8:30-5 during the week, so for us it works best that I try to keep my work schedule to those hours as well, so I can see my family. Having a work life balance that everyone talks about will keep you from going insane with all of the business stuff, beyond actually taking photos, that you'll be dealing with. Of course I work outside of those hours from time to time, but it gives me a better starting point at keeping my life as normal as possible.
4. Under Promise and Over Deliver
I'm sure you've heard this time after time, but it's so true. It also holds for any type of photo or video business and it's super easy to do with every client. If you tell a client you are going to have X amount of photos within 3 days, get them an extra 10% and try to have them ready within 2 days for example. It's a simple thing, but it makes a huge difference and you will have more repeat customers.
5. Know the EXTRA Costs
Yes, of course you will have equipment costs and you should have some business insurance at the very least. But keep in mind that you might need props, food/drink, gas to drive to meetings as well as shoots, office supplies, website maintenance, equipment might break meaning repair costs and so many other things. So, when figuring your price structure, just know you are going to have to make enough to cover all of the above and so much more.
6. Talk to People
You never know who might be a potential client is what I've learned. So, be nice and talk with people whenever you have the chance. Seek out new places for opportunities to meet people. The gym, church, festivals, etc. Just make sure you have business cards on you for these times. Take the extra time to talk with people around you. You never know where it might lead.
There are a lot of photographers and videographers out there. Just know that if you put yourself out there, chances are you are going to get rejected now and again. There are many factors and possible reasons why. The trick it to be ok with rejection and understand that it might open a different opportunity up for you. If I don't get a job, even if I thought I was perfect for it, I try to tell myself that I now have time to do something else that might come along. Be positive in yourself, your skills and your business that you are great and have ability to push forward. Just know that you will get 0 jobs if you don't put yourself out there in the first place and you can't get or do everything.
Also, know that there is a reason and it's actually ok to ask why you didn't get a job. I do it whenever I lose a bid on a job. I will simply ask why they didn't go with me and just mention I like to ask so that I can do better in the future to improve my business. I always get a nice response with other helpful tips that I put to good use in my business.
8. Make Friends... Not Enemies
The photography/videography community where I live in Lancaster, PA is a really strong one. Most people don't mind sharing information about their businesses, sharing equipment or helping out in a pinch. It's particularly great if you need a second shooter or if you are too busy and want to refer a client to someone else. More people will want to work with you and help you out with your business! There is no room for animosity in our industry and furthermore being friends and helping each other out is just more fun! Especially at the gathering and events!
If you feel like something you are doing is a secret, just remember, you are more than likely a small business and have been using techniques, pricing and equipment that isn't proprietary to anything you do. So, why not share with others and become an influencer instead of someone who is seen as standoffish?
No matter what business of photography you are in, the days are usually long. You have to keep energy up, so be sure to plan out to eat something during your long day. That's all I have to say about that!
10. Remember Why You Chose This Profession
Whenever you are swamped with tons of work, emails, social media and just trying to live life, to look back and remember why you chose this profession! Was it because you liked seeing light? Was it because you love looking at photos and want to take your own beautiful photos? Was it just to take cute photos of your children?
How about to make clients look better than they have ever seen themselves? That's my goal and always has been! I like to take photos for my clients that are better than they've ever had taken of themselves or their business! I try to take photos that make their business look it's best! That's why I love doing what I do, and I continue to strive to be better, not only for myself but for my current and future clients!
What's your reason for being a photographer or videographer? Leave a comment on our Instagram or Facebook page with your reason!