Starting a photography business seems easy to begin with. All one needs is a good camera, an understanding of photography techniques, a love for photography itself, and the enthusiasm to turn a passionate hobby into a business.
Unfortunately, it really isn’t as simple as that!
The moment a talented amateur photographer makes the decision to become a professional, to earn money from their photographs, he or she ceases to be a photographer and instead becomes a marketer and seller of photography.
The distinction between photographer and businessperson is crucial and understanding of this is essential if the would-be professional has a desire to be successful at selling their photographic work.
Put simply, photographers do not make money taking photographs. They make money selling photographs.
Sadly, the ease of entry into the photography business is so simple that many photographers find themselves asking the question, “how do I start a photography business” after they’ve already discovered that the reality is not as simple as they thought it would be after all!
For those who are new to the photography business, or considering making the jump from being an amateur to professional photographer, there is a structured approach that could save some agony further down the line. This systematic methodology is called “The Six Pillars Of Success” and can apply to almost any small business.
The six pillars are:
Being in business is not for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned. Because of this, it’s essential to maintain a positive mindset and keep your business goals firmly in sight. Commitment is a big factor here, too, and it’s important to be 100% committed to your success no matter the current circumstances. This also means investing in your continuing business education, and having a forward-thinking mentality that’s focused on your future growth.
Knowing where to position oneself in the marketplace is something that will set the aspiring professional photographer apart from the competition. Identifying a photographic genre as a specialty, together with the demographic and personality of the ideal target client are a great start here. A pricing model also helps to determine which of those ideal clients will be willing to invest in the photography services and products on offer.
In its most simple form, marketing is the process of earning, and competing for, your ideal clients’ attention. Effective marketing helps to educate your photography prospects about who you are, your values and beliefs, how you conduct business, and how the client can most benefit from the experience of working with you.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to the success of any business in this day and age. A photographer might be the most personable and friendly person in the world and produce the most incredible photography their clients could possibly imagine, but that won’t matter one bit if no one can find them online. Even with the most amazing-looking photography website, it’s essential to ensure that the search engines have a good idea of what the website is actually about.
No one wants to come across as the stereotypical used-car salesman, and if the client senses the photographer might be uncomfortable with his or her own prices or at all nervous about asking for the sale, they will instinctively become much more resistant to the sales process, making the sales job much harder. The answer is to learn how to sell from an ethical standpoint, and with the client’s needs firmly at heart.
This is where most professional photographers really trip up! They attract the right clients, create beautiful work for them, do a great job of selling it, and then never talk to the client again! This is a huge mistake, and can mean the photographer is stuck in a never-ending quest for new clients. The solution is to stay in touch with your family of valued clients. It’s easy to send them an occasional card in the mail, an email newsletter, or even call them on the telephone just to see how they’re doing.
An Upward Spiral To Success
As you reach the last of the six pillars, you’ll see that a happy family of clients naturally causes you to be happier as a businessperson, which helps create an even stronger positive attitude.
You also get to know your clients in a lot more depth, which then helps you when it comes to positioning yourself and your business in the marketplace.
The process of marketing becomes much simpler and a lot less costly, since you’ll see a lot more benefit from word of mouth marketing.
The SEO for your photography website is also made much simpler because your blog articles, for example, further help the search engines to see you as a local authority.
The sales process becomes easier to manage because you’ve now created a good reputation within the community.
Finally, your family of happy clients will love you more as your photography business becomes more established.
About The Author
Nigel Merrick is a professional photographer, author, blogger and business coach for other working photographers. Learn more about how to start a photography business on the Zenologue photography business and marketing website.