Veteran Tips for Launching Your Professional Photography Business
Jul 16, 2018
If you belong to any neighborhood Facebook Groups, you've noticed that new photography "businesses" are appearing left and right -- many belonging to novices without any real knowledge of the inner workings of their camera, investment in their clients, or even proper business insurance and licensing. "So, what is the correct way to go about kicking off your business then?", you ask.
Knowing how and where to invest, when launching your professional photography business, is incredibly important.
Here are a few tips I learned along my professional journey:
Use your early sessions to build your portfolio and market yourself!
Provide discounted sessions to your favorite clients (those who have been with you from the very beginning, or those you love photographing) and politely request that they share their images with family and friends, on social media (make sure they tag you!), etc. If a new client is referred to you through this, and books a full session, they receive a discount on their next session, or a complimentary product credit ... you get the idea. You should receive new, similar clients without much cash involved. #WINNING! A constantly growing referral system has the potential to organically grow your business!
Hold off on the spending spree!
There's a good chance your style will change dramatically as your new, by-the-book business takes off. Maybe newborns are your jam right now, but by this time in 2019 you could be shooting exclusively lifestyle sessions or even be doing commercial work in an urban studio. Allow yourself what you need to work well, but don't go crazy with unnecessary purchases. Be honest with yourself while you find your sweet spot. Remember, you can rent camera bodies, lenses, and other gear. Once you feel confident in the direction you and your photography are moving, invest wisely.
Branding comes with growth.
For the time being, keep your branding minimal. Your niche or style will likely not be the same in a year or so. Find a design that works for now, until you have found your artistic voice. Your business name should follow suit. "Cutest Colorado Newborn Photography" isn't going to work well for you if you discover that capturing I Dos and vow renewals is where your passion lies. This will help you in pretty much every aspect of your business: client relationships, finance, SEO, etc.
Create a blog, and an Instagram account.
As I mentioned above, marketing is expensive; a website can be, too. Instagram is a great platform for gaining attention and drawing attention to your best and most recent work. You can connect with other photographers, local business owners, and even potential clients via Instagram. Putting a blog to work for you is also a wonderful business tool for newer photographers. When you start a blog, look into WordPress and similar hosting sites that are easy to expand into a fully functional website when you're ready to take that next step. Don't forget to tag clients and encourage them to share!
Make sure you're legit.
One of the most inexcusable mistakes I see new photographers make is not going about their business legally. This can be devastatingly expensive and can get you into serious financial or legal trouble. You should be have at least a basic client contract to cover you and your business. Pay your taxes. Invest in liability insurance and insurance on your equipment. It's not the fun stuff but it is the necessary stuff!
I hope these tips help those of you wanting to go into business. Starting, and successfully running, a professional photography business is not easy but it is so rewarding. Crossing your proverbial "t"s and dotting your proverbial "i"s when you first kick off will make for smoother sailing as you navigate the waters of professional photography.