Photography Business is still Real Business.

Mike Wilkinson (over at Fstoppers) is of the not-so-unique opinion you have to be good at photography AND business.

“I’m an artiste,” (this is you talking) “not a bourgeois capitalist. I am much more interested in sharpening my skills in photography than in twiddling around with marketing and bookkeeping.”  Well, if Mike Wilkinson has got it right [here], you need to be concerned about both—and your career in photography will benefit immeasurably as a result.  Here’s why he thinks so.

Fiscal Responsibility.
Thinking of going into debt to purchase pricey, but necessary gear?  Not so fast.  Assess exactly what equipment you need, and then do some finagling to see what you can obtain used, hired, or borrowed.  With no guarantee of regular income, debt is a risk you don’t want to take on unnecessarily.

The art of negotiating with clients.
Accuracy, reserve, and confidence all need to be balanced as you explain what you’re going to do and how much it will cost.  And please, don’t toss off an estimate during your first meeting with a client.  You may regret it after taking the time to develop your proposal.

Being able to craft a job-winning proposal.
Don’t respond to a proposal request with a glibly assembled document.  A Word or InDesign document featuring detailed info on your business, some discussion of budget and workflow, and impressive showcase images, as well as a section of FAQs, will have your client congratulating himself for having the good sense to approach you.  Lots of work, you say?  Not really, if you use the same template each time.

Marketing Your Business.
Read Wilkinson’s lips: “Marketing” does not mean scanning Reddit for leads.  You won’t regret the effort you put into getting wider exposure, even through Facebook groups or whatever else will bring you opportunities to meet with potential clients in person.

Web presence.
Here go Wilkinson’s lips again:  Set up a website.  It’s gotta be sharp, current, and well stocked with samples of your photography.  Include a blog.  Potential clients enjoy reading about you and what you’ve been up to.  Don’t worry if you know nothing about website design; Wilkinson’s got some helpful hints for you.

Pricing yourself properly.
You can’t afford to price yourself out of the market with either high or low estimates.  Research what other photographers are charging for similar projects; learn about your client’s budget and expectations.  And know your worth—the client may be prepared to pay more than you think.

Read the full blog [here]. And then get out there and do some real business.photography business