Starting your own photography business—or any other business for that matter—-is a great idea. But before venturing out to talk to prospective clients, you need to be ready, not just in your skills, but also in the tools needed to launch your business.
Here are five important things that you want to have in order for your startup photography business to get off the ground.
1. A Business Plan
When starting a new photography business, it is important that you create a business plan, which acts as your roadmap to success. Your plan should answer the following questions:
- Business model – how do you intend to operate your business? Who is your target audience? What kind of photography service will you be offering? Have you identified your workflow process from lead to shoot to delivery to payment?
- Profit model – how are you going to generate income? How much should you charge clients?
- Marketing plan -how will you market yourself to your potential clients? Does your business have a brand or a unique trait that you want to capitalize on? How do you want your clients to see you?
- Financial plan – how much of an investment will this take up front? How long will it take for you to achieve a return of investment? What is your pricing scheme?
In addition, by formulating a business plan, you may be able to come up with scenarios, ideas, and questions that you have not originally thought of when you first decided to venture out into the photography industry.
2. A Niche Market
When starting out in photography, you most likely started as a “catch-all” photographer – photographing anything and everything. This was a good move as it allowed you to explore the techniques, details, and other aspects of various fields of photography. However, if you want to turn your passion into a business, you may want to identify yourself with a particular niche.
Remember that prospects need professional photographers for specific photography tasks. Therefore, marketing yourself as a jack-of-all-trades would be less effective than if you advertise yourself as, for example, a professional real estate photographer for interior designers and realtors.
Here’s a rule of the thumb in determining the right niche. First, ask yourself what you love to photograph and what you are best at when it comes to photography. Then determine if there are people who are willing to pay you for what you love doing. If you find an overlap between what you love, what you are good at and what people are willing to pay for, then you have found your niche!
3. Quality Equipment
There’s an old adage in photography that the best camera is the one you have with you. In the world of digital photography however, equipment gets outdated very quickly and if you’re going to do this professionally, you’ll want to make sure your equipment is good enough to deliver the type of images your prospective clients will want. You don’t need the most expensive equipment when starting out, but having some professional quality equipment will help you to produce better looking more marketable images. Sure, that 5-year-old, budget-friendly DSLR may still be your trusty companion, but think about saving your pennies to invest in something newer with a better sensor and a greater capacity to capture crisp, appealing images in all levels of light.
4. An Attractive, Easy-to-Navigate Website
A unique and visually impressive website is absolutely necessary for a budding professional photographer. Your website acts as your online portfolio that showcases your photos and services to the world. There are plenty of photography website templates to choose from so be sure to do your research to find the one that best suits you.
You want your website to be simple yet compelling. Thus, minimalist website templates are recommended because they are generally easy to use and navigate. We recommend checking out FolioWebsites and trying out their free 30 day trial as you start considering what photography website company is right for you.
Finally, invest in a domain name via a trusted domain registrar such as GoDaddy, Siteground, and HostGator. Free blog sites with “myurl.wordpress.com” or “myurl.blogspot.com” addresses may not cost you anything, but they won’t help you establish yourself as a professional.
5. A Social Media Presence
Your website is already an effective means to market your photography business. But you can further boost your online presence through the use of social media, considered one of the most powerful marketing tools in the world today. Sharing your photos, blog posts, and service packages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms allows you to reach out and interact with your target market. Through their comments and sharing patterns, you can even study your market’s behavior, enabling you to make appropriate improvements on your marketing plan.
For additional promotion, upload and showcase your best photos in social media sites that specialize in photography such as Instagram and Pinterest. You can also check out online groups and forums where your target audience hangs out. For example, if you are a food photographer, you can go to groups where food connoisseurs, chefs, wine tasters, and caterers gather.
Another example: real estate photographers can interact with photographers, editors, agents, and other players in the industry in the Photography for Real Estate blog and forum. It is actually one of our favorite blogs.
Finally, be confident. Clients often back off if you show hesitation or doubt about your own abilities. Be proud of your work and assure the client that he or she is making the right choice in working with you. Know that you have the right skills to take stunning photos that your clients will love.