Today I swapped Facebook messages with a very enthusiastic photographer who has visions of a career change and making a living from travel photography. Her enthusiasm coupled with a healthy dose of “where to next doubts” reminded me of myself when I was starting out in 2008. It prompted this post – getting started in your photography business.
Plan for your financial success.
Lots of people dream of turning their hobby into their source of income. It is all about “living the dream” and reminds us that “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. Cool! But getting started in an industry you may have very little experience in is a daunting challenge. So, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned over the last 6 years. Here are 7 tips if you are planning on getting started in your photography business.
Tip 1 – Capitalize on Your Enthusiasm
The early stages of starting a business are very exciting, you are full of enthusiasm and enjoying the new challenge. Capitalize on your enthusiasm! Act on it, get started, do something.
There is a hugely empowering feeling that comes with taking action – get started, and get started now! Organise a website, join a stock photography website, shoot a pile of new images, write an advertisement for yourself, find an online community to join. Whatever it is, act today. Get started.
Tip 2 – Expect Mistakes
As you start in an industry you don’t know, you are not going to get every step right first time. Expect mistakes, they are part of the learning. When they come, welcome them. This is how we move forward. I started out with a horrible website and expected that to get lots of visitors, and then get lots of clients. That’s not how it works. The mistake and the lesson are both ok. Learn the lesson and move forward.
Tip 3 – Ask for Advice
If you want to reach your goals slowly – do it your own way, don’t ask for input, and refuse to take advice. If you want to reach your goals more quickly – ask for advice from people who’ve trodden this path before you! As a photographer, ask for advice both on your images and how to market your images.
The bad news is that making images and marketing images are entirely different skills. The good news is that the photography industry is full of people who will share their experience and help you. All you have to do is ask.
Today there are a wide variety of ebusiness opportunities
Tip 4 – Be Prepared to Learn
Asking for advice is the first step. Being prepared to learn is the next. Running a successful photography business is both a journey of self discovery and a process of continuous improvement. Whether its learning a new lighting technique, understanding how e business works, learning about stock photography, getting better ways to pose your subject, or knowing how to improve your post production workflow – be prepared to learn. Keep improving. Then improve again. And again. And again.
Research your target market
Tip 5 – Research the Market
Right when you start you are full of energy but without direction. This is a great time to study the market.
If you are a travel photographer, what are successful travel photographers shooting? What style of images are popular? How are they lit? Why do they work? If you are a stock photographer – what are the current trends in stock photography? What are the next emerging markets? What is the under served niche you can target? If you are a wedding photographer, how are the best wedding photographers in your area marketing themselves? What style of images are they shooting? Why does it work? Is there an opportunity for you?
Use some of your new starter energy to see what the market is doing.
Tip 6 – Plan your Finances
Starting a business means generating an income – and having an income higher than your expenses as soon as possible! It is very easy to get carried away with the romantic notion of being a photographer, and not bother to look at your income and expenses. When you are starting out, you are setting the principles you will run your business on forever. You need to look at both expenses and income and assess how well the business is going. Happy clients is one thing, a happy accountant is another. Keep it real.
Tip 7 – Keep Going!!
You will run into road blocks, you will get discouraged, you will have doubts. When you get to the point of being about to give up – this is the time to keep going! If this were easy, everyone would do it. There is something special in overcoming difficulty to arrive at success. The journey makes you better – keep going!
There are hundreds of other lessons learnt in starting a photography business. Please leave a comment on this post if you have an issue you’d like me to address, a question you’d like answered, or just some encouragement!
Finally, the lady I swapped messages with today has already found a community of photographers, she is asking questions, and listening to the answers. If she can keep that up, and keep going when she has doubts, she will do very well.