Guide: Start Your Own Photography Business

Guide: Start Your Own Photography Business

Guest post from Vanessa Guzzo of Vanessa Guzzo Photography

Starting your own business can be an overwhelming and emotional process so the best thing to do is have a game plan. Take things step by step and remove the emotional factor from any business decisions you make. Although photography may be your passion, you must keep telling yourself that it is a business. If you treat your business like a hobby, that’s all it will ever be! Like real estate mogul and entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran once said, “perception is reality.”

Get Your Head in the Game

Mindset is extremely important when launching your business. Start every day with a positive affirmation and smile. The act of smiling triggers the “happy hormone” in your brain to be released so you’ll be ready to take on the day’s challenges ahead.

If you need help with getting rid of your imposter syndrome, then consider hiring a professional business and life coach. Amy Fraughton’s Photo Business Tools course is designed specifically for photographers. You can also check out Coach Marco B. – his eBook The Gremlin can help rid that annoying voice in your head that screams, “I’m not good enough.”

Branding & Marketing

Consider what style speaks to you and reflects your work. Settling on a style can be a difficult task in the beginning but you can pull things from your daily life to look for your style. Are you drawn to designs that are light and airy or dark and moody? Vibrant or muted? Work with a web design company to make sure that your website and product packaging are cohesive. Social media posts and newsletters should also match your brand style.

Create a template (using a tool like Mailchimp) that you can use to create a monthly newsletter with content that will be helpful to your clients. This is not a selling tool but rather a way to keep in touch with clients and to be a resource for them. This way, when they are ready to book a photographer you’ll be the first person they think of.

Be sure to be building your contact list right from the start. It’s super important to collect the email addresses from any potential clients. These will come in handy for when you want to start your newsletter as well as if you want to announce a new service or product.

The Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Creating an LLC or Limited Liability Corporation will help to protect your assets. You should also research various insurance options to protect your business. Some professional organizations, such as Professional Photographers of America, include insurance as a member benefit.

Setting Your Prices

This is the number one most difficult part of starting your new photography business. Here are some of the considerations when setting your prices:

  1. Time spent with client during pre-shoot consultation
  2. Travel time and expenses
  3. Session time
  4. Editing time
  5. Time spent with client during post-shoot consultation/ordering session
  6. Cost of goods
  7. Continuing education expenses
  8. Subscription expenses for things like backup cloud storage and software subscriptions
  9. Marketing expenses
  10. Insurance expenses
  11. Equipment expenses

Once you have an idea of how much time and money you need to invest in your business, you can figure out how much you need to work to cover your expenses and make a profit. For example, if your goal is to net 100K/year and you’ve calculated that your annual expenses are 20K/year, then you are going to have to photograph 10 sessions/month with an average sale of $1000/session. If you only book 5 sessions/month then your average sale needs to be $2000.

Don’t sell yourself short! These average sale numbers may seem intimidating to a new business owner but I assure you that these are very achievable sales if you think boutique business. Clients expect to pay more for quality work and a custom, tailored experience.

What not to consider is just as important. Do not look at what your competition is charging as it will only confuse you and instill doubt in your plan.

Building Your Portfolio

The best advice I can give here is shoot what you love. Finding your creative voice will be a much quicker process if you photograph what makes you happy. In return, your work will be better and more rewarding plus people will be drawn to you which will virtually eliminate your competition because there is only one you!

When working with clients – even if you’re just starting out – pick an online tool like Shootproof that can host client galleries, manage contracts & invoices, and more.

Prints & Products

The a-ha moment comes the first time you shoot a client and deliver their finished wall art or album to them and they tear up with joy. That’s the reward for all of your hard work – both behind-the-scenes and in front of the client.

It’s so important at this stage of the game to have a print lab that you know and trust and have built a relationship with. Your print lab will become your best friend as they are at the forefront of your advertising. This is what your client’s friends and families will see. Look for a professional lab partner that not only has quality products but also outstanding customer service.

Real Life Experience Tips:

  • Always be upfront and honest with your clients. It builds their trust in you.
  • Arrive at your session early. You never want a client waiting for you.
  • Educate your clients without overwhelming them. Be a resource.
  • Always shoot for the end result
  • Give back. Reward loyal clients and donate sessions for a cause that you support

Thanks to Vanessa Guzzo for the use of her imagery in this post!

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