How to Start a Photography Business: The Complete Guide
You’re ready to become a photographer. You have been dreaming about this day for years. You are excited to do your passion, showing the beauty of the world in pictures. This is a great goal to achieve, and with the right tools, you are sure to see your business take off and soar. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started. Below are the steps you can take to see your business take off.
1. Writing Your Business Plan
One of the first things you should work on before you even start to purchase the camera equipment and handle all the other work is developing a business plan.
This is a step that many beginner photographers forget to do. Every serious entrepreneur needs to take some time to get all their thoughts out on paper.
This business plan is vital because it is your roadmap, all the details about your business and how you plan to profit.
You can break it down into all the different parts, including your competition, how the company is owned, the expenses, and the cash flows. While it may seem like a challenging task to create this business plan, it is one of the most critical steps to take.
At this stage, you should choose a good business name, do the market research, and decide what type of business structure you will use. Start taking an owner mindset when thinking through these questions.
You might start your business as a sole proprietorship because you are operating independently. Or you might consider a limited liability corporation to protect yourself from potential liability. Take this moment to think of everything it takes to operate your business legally and who your ideal clients are.
2. Assessing the Cost of Startup
While you are busy writing your business plan, make sure to think through some of your cost to start. These will vary from one business to another but should include all of the essentials you must work with before launching your own business.
For example, depending on how much and the type of camera equipment you want, you could spend $10,000 or more to get started. You must also choose the right business insurance, create a website, get your business license, and have good accounting software to make things easier.
Your studio may be a startup cost as well. If you plan to do this out of your home or do some work outside, then this can reduce some costs, though you may still need lighting and props to help.
If you want a dedicated studio space, you will need to add that rental amount in, along with the utilities and other expenses, right from the start.
3. Getting the Startup Funds to Start
Now that you have a clearer picture of how much it will cost you to get started, you need to secure the funds.
It would be nice to have all that money in your bank account to start your business, but this is not true for most entrepreneurs. You will need to find other ways to find funding.
You can work a regular job and do this on the side as you build up funds. You can ask friends and family to help. Or you can even ask for a loan from the bank. If you decide to go with the latter option, your business plan will be necessary.
4. Build Your Photography Portfolio
When prospective clients come to you for your services, they want to see some of the work you have done to see if your style matches their vision.
One way to do this is to create your photography portfolio that shows some of your best work.
When you build up your portfolio, make sure to consider the type of audience you would like to work with and create it around that idea. Always update the portfolio to make sure that your work is still relevant and current.
5. Buying the Right Camera Gear
Now it is time for some of the fun stuff, purchasing your camera gear. When it comes to the gear you need, you have some freedom to figure out the most important parts to you.
However, you may want to consider getting two cameras, two excellent lenses, two flashes, and then some software like Lightroom and Photoshop to help edit the images. Having two of everything will make it easier for you to have the right stuff, even if something breaks down.
If you are worried about the equipment cost, you may want to consider buying second-hand. You can upgrade later on once your business starts doing better.
6. Building your Website to Advertise
Your clients need to have some way to reach you and decide whether to hire you. A website is a must as soon as you come up with the name for your business.
You can choose to use a free website template, but since this is the storefront to your business, you may want to invest in a little more and make it more impressive.
A viable business starts with a good domain name. A powerful website design, along with a solid photography niche, will help you build a great online presence and a strong brand.
If you need help with getting noticed on the search engines (e.g., Google and Bing) or building online marketing materials, it might be a good idea to hire an all-star web designer to help.
A professional website is one of the best ways to attract clients in. You need to use it to showcase your work. You can organize it all up to show the categories of photography that you do.
Add your personal experience and background along with contact information and a list of your packages. This helps you manage customer expectations right from the start and makes it easier to get ahold of you.
7. Branding and Differentiating Your Business
Another essential thing to work on is how to brand your business and make it different from all the rest. There are many types of photography businesses out there, so you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
You can focus your energy on being the go-to wedding photography person, or focus on professional photography in the real estate business.
Remember that you can’t do everything. You need to figure out your target market and then brand yourself to them. You can choose to do something like senior photography, newborns, maternity shoots, or weddings.
There are many options, but choose one or two and stick with that before finding a way to showcase your work and brand yourself.
8. Growing Your Client Base
Your goal is to grow your client base to become a great business and make good money. You may start with just a few clients, but you want to get a company that earns a good profit over time. Growing your client base is the best way to do this.
There are a few ways that you can do this. First, consider giving your friends and family a standard discount for pictures. This helps you build your portfolio to showcase your work and gets in at least a few clients.
Offering referral discounts to some of your clients if they bring in new clients can help you grow. And advertising on Google and social media are always good ideas so potential clients can find you.
9. Minding the Money and Growing the Business
You can have all the clients in the world, but if you don’t take care of your money, your business will never see success. You need to have an excellent way to manage your money and make sure that it is spent and used wisely.
A reliable accounting tool will make a big difference with this one, so find one you like to use.
When you can manage your money well, you will find it easier to grow your business. You will know exactly how much you can spend on advertising, on new equipment, and even on expanding to a new studio.
So keep track of that money to help you grow more and more.
10. Hiring the Right Help
As your business grows, you may find that you need some help. Whether this is additional photographers to keep up with the clients or just someone who answers the phones and social media accounts and emails, sometimes you just need some help.
Make sure that you hire the right support. Find someone who will represent your business well so you know your customers are taken care of, even when you can’t be there.
Starting your own photography business is exciting. You can control your schedule, meet some of the best people, and do something you are passionate about. When you are ready to get started, following the steps above will help you get your photography business off the ground so you can make this a great career!