What are you, new? Launching A Photography Business Is No Joke
The people over at Professional Photographer are zealous for you to succeed not just as a camera-wielder, but as a businessperson. Toward that end, they have (in conversation with Niall O’Laughlin, Marketing Manager at 99designs) assembled [these five guidelines] to assure that you will not go belly up as you endeavor to make the transition from artist to entrepreneur. As one commenter sagely (if somewhat grumpily) observed, these are not merely “killer tips”—they are “essential requirements” for the photography business. Ignore them at your peril.
You have to start with a business plan. “What? A business plan?!” you may be thinking. “But that sort of thing is for business peop… oh. Right. Never mind.” You see? If you’re going to make it out of the starting gate in the photography… wait for it… business, you’ll need to draw up a blueprint for what you want to achieve and how to get there. And it’s no use objecting that you know more about aperture settings than accounting principles. That’s the point. That is (in part) why you need a business plan; to support you in your own areas of weakness.
You also need to secure financing. Whether through crowdfunding, or the more traditional avenues of approaching investors, loan officers, or rich uncles, you’ll probably need a spot of cash to land necessary equipment, carry out a marketing strategy, etc.
You’ll need to create a portfolio. Making the jump from informal photography practice to established photography business will necessitate the development of a showcase of your work—a representative yet impressive sampler that prospective clients can ooh and aahh over. It doesn’t need to be (indeed, should not be) extensive; just enough of a taste to whet your future clients’ appetites.
Early on, you’ll want to start building a client base. Don’t announce your arrival before you’ve even drummed up any interest. Get your name out. Create a logo, build a website, have business cards made up. Set up Twitter and Facebook accounts. Join associations, connect to local networks. The more you can do to make people aware of you and interested in your work at the very beginning, the better.
Finally, you’ll need to be sure you know your market—thoroughly. Become acquainted with what other photographers are doing, and what clients are asking for. Identify a niche, if possible, that is shaped kind of like you. Look over industry publications and websites; familiarize yourself with market trends.
Observing these five guidelines will assure that your photography business stands at least a fighting chance of succeeding.