Research & Refine your Business Idea
Are you constantly carrying your camera with you and snapping pictures? Ever wondered to turn your photography passion and talent into a photography business? If yes, that’s awesome. In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about how to start a photography business.
You may have made a decision to start your own photography business and use your talent to make money and build a sustainable career. However, when it comes to becoming successful in the photography market, which is highly competitive, you must determine your niche and desired clients.
In other words, you should decide what you should photograph and who for. But, why is having a niche so important? Namely, if you take photos of everything around you and offer a wide range of services to clients, you may confuse them and make an impression that you aren’t a professional. Another thing to think about is whether you’d be selling prints.
Therefore, decide whether you’ll use your talent to photograph weddings, infant photos, portraits, landscapes, food, real estate, fashion, events, or maybe commercial advertising photography. Finding your niche will enable you to focus and improve a specific skill set and increase the chances of building prospects in a particular genre. Plus, research the photography market in your area and try to choose a less competitive niche.
Now let’s move on to the equipment and other essentials needed. It is obvious that you need a professional camera, but the type of camera differs depending on the type of photography. Other pieces of equipment you’ll need are a tripod, lighting, lenses, backdrops for studio or portrait photography, a variety of different props, and maybe a studio space.
Last but not least, you’ll need a high-quality editing software program such as Lightroom or Photoshop for fine-tuning your photos and a great photo printer which will make your photos stand out. Just don’t try to save money on these two essentials because they will help you take your photography to the next level.
Creating your Business Website
If you want to attract clients successfully and effectively, having a website is a must. Today, whenever people need some information, the common thing they do is go on the internet and google it. So, create a separate business website today!
Setting up a website isn’t as hard as it may sound, in-fact, many hosting providers have tailored their service around small businesses who may not be tech savvy. We suggest going with BlueHost to host your website, they’re service is simple and easy to use/setup and they’re currently offering 60% off hosting, including free domain registration.
Additionally, creating a blog on your website is also a great way to attract organic traffic and expand your business. Checkout our full guide on the best and easiest way to setup a WordPress blog here.
If you decide to sell prints, you can make your own e-shop and enable customers to find your photos online. This is a great idea that will help you add an additional revenue stream. And, you can use Google Analytics to have an insight into the traffic of your website.
Marketing Your Business
Marketing your business is key when it comes to attracting clients. How would people know about you and your services if you don’t advertise your business? They can maybe hear from some of your satisfied clients, but even though word of mouth can help, it just isn’t enough.
Considering other marketing strategies can really come in handy. For example, create business cards and brochures which will include your URL address and distribute them in popular coffee shops, restaurants, business centers, malls, or wherever you think you may find potential clients.
Being present on events gearing toward your market is another thing to do. So, make sure you appear at events and trade shows related to your niche. For instance, if you do wedding photography, you must attend wedding shows and build a reputation in that specific industry.
Social media marketing is yet another effective and efficient strategy. You can create business profiles on several networking sites and advertise your photography there. Just remember to provide a link to your website. Similarly, you can ask an influencer in your niche to help you and tag your business in her/his posts.
Setting Goals and KPI’s
Starting a business shouldn’t be your only goal. Instead, you should constantly have goals that you aim to achieve. For example, your goal may be to increase the number of either loyal or new clients, or even both. Then, you can work towards boosting the traffic to your website or the number of prints sold. Whatever your goal is, certain key performance indicators (KPI’s) can help you determine the area of your business which needs improvements and thus help you achieve your goals.
The following are the relevant KPI’s for a photography business:
- Traffic sources
- Page tracking
- Conversion rate
- Cost per acquisition
- Monthly, quarterly, and annual sales
- Daily new users
- Unique customers
- Incremental sales
- Sales funnel
- Goal completion rate
- Clicks, likes, and shares on social media
- Brand mentions and comments
- Social media profile visits
By following these metrics, you’ll definitely know what segments of your business you’re doing good and what you need to improve.
Plan your Finances
Organization and planning are vital when it comes to finances, as well as keeping your personal and business accounts separate. Certain Google tools can really come in handy when it comes to financial planning and accounting such as:
- Accounting by Wave
- Rhino Accounting Free Google Accounting App
- FreshBooks Online Billing and Bookkeeping
- FreeAgent Online Accounting Software
- Expensify Online Expense Reporting
- Shoeboxed Receipt Management
- Intuit Online Payroll for Google Apps
Just remember to include all of your monthly costs when organizing and planning. In general, your expenses a month may consist of studio rental fee, supplies, travel, and marketing. It really doesn’t seem much when you put it like this, but the costs can easily go up if you need to purchase new equipment.
If you have to buy everything brand new, the initial investment can really be expensive. Here’s the basic budget for starting a photography business:
- Cameras: $1,500 to $2,000
- Multiple lenses: $1,000+ each
- Memory card: $50+
- External drives: $120
- Flashes: $350
- Lightroom and Photoshop subscription: $120 yearly
- Computer with sufficient memory: $2,000
- Business cards: $20+
As you can see, you should plan on budgeting around $10,000 if you want to start a photography business. But, what to do if you don’t have that kind of money?
Your first option is to go to the bank and ask for either a loan or an overdraft. Alternatively, the finance option that is increasingly becoming popular is peer to peer (P2P), also known as crowdfunding. Just do your research and decide which option is the best for you and your business since all three have both advantages and disadvantages.
Adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Starting a business is a one-time-only task. However, running a business is a constant process of learning, improving, growing, and optimizing in every segment of your work, starting from yourself to the customers.
Hence, you should adopt an entrepreneurial mindset that will help you stay focused, motivated, inspired, and ambitions. Luckily to you, there are business relevant books that may help you achieve this:
- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
- Art Inc. – The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist by Lisa Congdon
- The Artist’s Guide to Selling Work by Annabelle Ruston
- Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact by Jocelyn K. Glei
- Louder Than Words – Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice by Todd Henry
Similarly, you can find inspiration in some of the best photography forums:
- The Photo Forum
- Digital Photography Review (DPReview)
- Canon Digital Photography Forums (Photography-On-The.Net)
- ClubSNAP Photography Community
- The Professional Photography Forum
Other things to consider when starting your photography business
If you want to be a true professional you have to complete some legal requirements. The first and most significant step is to choose the appropriate business structure. Simply put, you should decide on the type of business entity you want to operate.
Several options are possible such as Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company, and there are some significant differences among them. So, do your research or consult with a CPA to ensure that you make the best choice.
Next, you should decide on a name and check that the name is unique and available for web domain address. Once you have your name, you can make it official and register your business so that you can operate in the area/ city/ town you are registering.
Accounting & Bookkeeping:
And, don’t forget tax reporting. Your location and type of business structure are going to determine what type of taxes you’ll be required to report. Apart from state income and federal taxes, sales and use tax may also apply to your business.
When it comes to growing your team and getting some real talent aboard, you have a number of things to conder. The most important and challenging part is organizing team roles. Depending on the size of your business, you’ll need photographers and video/photo editors. If just starting out with a small number of clients, you can consider outsourcing these tasks on freelance sites like Upwork. This will help you stand on your feed and cut down on the expenses. Remember, every penny is worth at the beginning.