How to start a Freelance Photography Business
Most people tend to think that simply owning a camera and being able to point and click can make you a successful photographer, however, it is never that easy. Just like any other business owner, you’ll have to manage your time, money and business properly in order to succeed. Even being a freelance photographer requires a certain degree of planning and organization.
This article will cover how to start a photography business and what you need to include in a photography business plan. You will learn mindset changes that will be important, tasks that you need to attack first, what to do with your money and how to make sure your business is continuously growing. You might as well want to read How to start a business, and How to get money to start a business to have more insight into managing crucial components of your daily business requirement.
If you are thinking about starting a photography business, check out our review on 3 of the best cameras available out there.
You are now a CEO
Starting your own business means you’ll have to become the CEO of your company who happens to do the photography work as well. You won’t be able to hire people at first so you’ll need to be prepared to take on the many roles needed to properly manage your business.
A lot of people overlook this and feel overwhelmed by the amount of work facing them. One thing that will help you deal with this is changing how you perceive your business.
You shouldn’t think of it as simply trying to earn money by taking photos of people. You’re running a multi-faceted media company that happens to specialize in photography. Your company has goals that it needs to achieve and you’re the one responsible for making it happen.
Start General Administration
As CEO of your newly founded company, there are some administration tasks you’ll need to take care of. You will need to register your business name and also open a business bank account.
You will need to decide which payment methods your company will accept and ensure they are all actively accepting payments. You may also need to find out if you need any license or permits to operate in your area. While doing this you’ll need to keep all your business documents organized and easily accessible.
Generally, businesses have an administration team to handle these types of day to day tasks. When you’re first starting out you will probably have to handle this work as well as your client work.
It’s important you ensure to organize yourself to handle everything on time and still leave time to provide your clients with a quality product.
Decide On Your Prices
Too often, new business owners miss out on money by not being sure of their own prices. Usually, they are freelancers who are used to charging different rates for each project.
In order to meet your income goals, you’ll need to have fixed prices. This also helps you find your ideal client (the type that can afford you!)
You can come up with your prices by looking at similar companies and what they charge. You’ll also need to factor in any costs to you as well as your time spent working.
Some people start by creating a yearly income goal and dividing their overall goal into 12 months. For each service you offer, you should have a specific price. You will also need a goal for how many of each service you want to be paid for annually.
Create a Portfolio
As a photographer, your portfolio will say a lot about you. When people look at your portfolio they expect it to be at the very least visually appealing.
Your portfolio is an area you should spend some time concentrating on before fully launching your business. It should reflect the quality of work that clients can expect from you.
If you’re new, you may have to be a bit creative with what you put in your collection. Try assembling some of the best photos you’ve taken on your own and offer to do volunteer work for people.
Volunteering looks great for your business and you can add to your portfolio. Here are a few options for you to create an easy to access online portfolio.
WordPress website – You can create a WordPress website and use a portfolio plugin to organize your work.
Tumblr – Tumblr is an easy blog to manage with many free themes you can use to show off your work. Use some of the most professional themes and upload your work.
One of the advantages of starting your own photography business is that your operation costs are very low. You need to be extremely careful with debt, especially when you’re starting out. You should be able to generate income on your own before borrowing any money.
If you’re unable to generate any interest in your services, buying an expensive piece of equipment won’t help. Often, people tend to mistake having a great piece of equipment with creating a great business.
If anything, you should borrow money only for marketing which will in turn help you gain more business. However, be careful with debt and do your best to mitigate costs.
Make Sure You Network
Networking in any business is mandatory, however, as a photographer will be the key to shaping how people perceive your brand. Part of successful networking is simply following up with people you have met.
If you meet someone at a networking event and exchange business cards, simply give them a call to check in next week. This helps to create a personal connection and can open the door for you to get referrals.
Networking can be your most cost-effective marketing tool. It costs nothing for you to go to business events in your city and simply introduce yourself to people.
Combined with a solid portfolio, this can be an easy way to introduce people to what you do and get them thinking about you whenever photography is mentioned.
Another part of networking is also making sure you do what you can to help other people. Take it upon yourself to connect people you think would work well together. You can also arrange referrals for fellow business owner’s service.
This lets people know that you’re not just in it for yourself and that you’re genuinely interested in helping other people. This is more likely to gain support from others than if they see you making an effort only to support yourself.
Moreover, volunteer to do work for local publications in order to increase your network. Working with local newspapers, sports teams or a magazine is a great way of integrating your work with your community.
Volunteering is another great way to meet new people to add to your network. Remember, the more people you can reach the higher of the chance you have of getting new business from referrals.
Reinvesting is crucial to growing your business, especially when you’re first starting out. Instead of borrowing money that you’ll have to pay back, you should use the money you make to grow your business. You can reinvest and buy better equipment, marketing materials or other things that will help to grow your business.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your progress and reinvest your profits into areas that give you trouble. If you struggle with getting consistent business, then you should invest in a marketing strategy. Or if you notice you’re unable to attract clients of a high caliber, you should invest in continued professional development or resources that will help you improve your skills.
Make Sure You Continue To Improve As A Photographer
Aside from all the business things you have to be aware of, you’ll need to also work on your craft at the same time. It’s important that you continue to grow as a photographer and expand your portfolio.
If you’re new to photography make sure you know all your basics like shooting in manual mode, learning to work with light and the nuances of your camera. If you’re an experienced photographer don’t be afraid to try new things that help to expand your skill set.
Part of improving as a photographer is also making sure you have the right gear. Although photography does depend on the skill and knowledge of the photographer, you’ll still need a certain level of equipment in order to tackle clients of a high caliber.
It’s important that you are knowledgeable about your cameras capabilities and potential upgrades. You may also need supplies such as lights, lenses, editing software or money to create a photo set. Keep these things in mind when reinvesting in your business.
Set Your Business Up For Year Round Profit
You’ll need to structure your business in a way that lets you earn money all year round. Many of photographers rely solely on weddings for example, but weddings have a lot of downtime throughout the year.
You can decide that in the spring and summer you will focus on promoting your wedding services. In the winter, you can focus on the graphic design portion of your business.
Graphic design can include doing logos for companies, creating business cards or even designing business documents for other businesses. The ways that you earn money with your business are only limited to your creativity. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try different things.
Another potential income stream for photographers is running a blog. A blog acts as a great portfolio and if done properly, can generate you some extra income.
Promoting your blog on social media or paying for ads can lead to your growing an email list, a social media presence and generating traffic to your blog.
You can monetize this through ads on your blog, promoting niche related products (such as camera accessories) or you can use these to increase your brands overall authority and reach.
Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is imperative for your business. As an entrepreneur you’ll face periods of time where you may struggle to get work, therefore, it’s important to have an ongoing marketing process that helps alleviate this.
Before starting to market your business, make sure you have the basics covered. You will need a registered name, business cards, logo and a clear idea of what your business is trying to do. Trying to appeal to all types of people will pull your marketing campaign in 50 different directions
When making your marketing plan, start with your ideal customer. Think about how best to reach them and what type of techniques you can use. Make a list of the resources available to you and decide if you’ll be doing the marketing yourself or hiring someone.
Again, a blog is a great strategy for a photographer. A photography blog lets you kill 2 birds with one stone.
First, you draw attention to your brand and services by sharing your photos online and on social media. Secondly, you have the opportunity to collect leads and build an email list that you can tap into.
An email list will help you build an audience of people who can potentially turn into long-term clients. Email lists can help you get work in different cities, give you a direct link to new customers and improve your brand’s overall perception.
This is a perfect response to downtime as an entrepreneur. You can always tap into your email list to try and generate new business. You can also email past happy customers and ask for referrals. As you can see, email can be a very versatile tool depending on how you use it.
Organization will be your best friend when starting your photography business. Everyone starts out as a freelancer but it’s up to you if you progress past that level. Things, like improving your skills and being clear on your prices, will help you grow as a business owner.
Remember to make administration tasks a priority because they can quickly pile up. Part of running a successful photography business will depend on your creativity and ability to learn year round. These tips will save you time and headaches as you grow as a business owner.