One difficult decision that many freelance and startup photographers eventually need to make is if they want to have a dedicated studio space. A studio is like an office, so selecting the right space will be pivotal for the future success of your company.
Experts are predicting that the commercial real estate market will take a few years to fully rebound, so it may be better to start looking for studio space now, rather than later. To help make the process easier, here are some of the do’s and don’ts to selecting your photography studio space.
Do Identify Your Studio Needs Beforehand
Just because you are a growing business does not mean that you need to have a dedicated studio space. Photographers who are shooting more in the field than in a studio likely will not benefit too much from having a nice studio space. If you’re looking to shoot more formal headshots, a studio might be a helpful space to have. Think critically about how your business operates to help you identify if you even need a studio in the first place.
If you decided that a studio will help push your business to the next level, great! Now you need to think through the next tough decision: buying vs. renting a studio.
For some, renting is the better option as it offers more flexibility and is the cheaper option in the short-term. Buying, on the other hand, is great for brand recognition, as well as being the smarter financial decision if you decide to stay in the same area for a long time.
No matter your choice, you still have a long way to go before you can select your exact studio space. Now that your needs have been identified, it’s time to start looking.
Don’t Purchase Commercial Real Estate Alone
Purchasing commercial real estate, no matter the market condition, is a costly venture. Committing to a purchase as large as this one with only your own financial backing could spell doom for the future success of your business. Before deciding that you will front all the costs of this investment, it may be worthwhile to look at the outside resources available to you.
Today, business owners have a slew of financial resources available to help them. If you want to purchase commercial real estate for your business, there are a few different ways to gain access to capital to help facilitate your purchase.
Small Business Loan: The best small business loan to use for real estate is the SBA 504 loan. The SBA 504 loan is a partially-Government backed loan that offers competitive fixed rate financing for real estate investments specifically. With high-approval rates and low-interest rates, the SBA 504 loan is one of the most user-friendly loans available today. If interested in an SBA 504 loan, you can apply for a small business loan today!
Friends & Family Loan: A friends & family loan is exactly what it sounds like – a financial agreement between you and a key friend or family member. These more personal loans, allow stakeholders to feel more lax and laid back about the financial agreement since it is with a friend, rather than an institution. This often actually ends up being a downside of using this method of funding as people become too relaxed. If you do decide to strike up a deal with a friend, make sure that you have a loan contract in place to ease any future issues that may arise.
Local Funding: Most cities across the country have either a chamber of commerce website, an economic development website, or a general city website. These sites usually will house resources for anyone interested in moving there or doing business in the community. For example, here on the Detroit Economic Growth website, there is a team of experts dedicated to helping local businesses find, finance and purchase commercial real estate. Look at your own local municipal sites to see what resources are available to help you!
Whatever route you choose, make sure to do your research before committing to any outside loan agreement.
Do Think More about Customer Experience
As mentioned, a photographer’s studio is like their office. You will be working from the studio all day, so it’s important that you like it! Also, remember that you are not the only one who will be visiting the studio. Clients and customers alike will be coming to see you, so you will want to make sure that the customer experience is superb to keep them coming back.
As you begin to look at offices and studios available on the market, think critically about how each studio is set-up. Will the layout be conducive to shooting good shots? Does the building feel inviting to guests? Is there an adequate amount of space for a waiting area? These are all questions that you have to run through before just settling on a space.
Customer experience can drive loyalty, and subsequently, can drive your business forward. Something like making sure that the space has adequate parking can seem small, but 40% of consumers actually will avoid certain shops if parking is difficult. While this is just an example, it drives the point home that details matter. Think about every element of the studio and how it can impact your customers.
Don’t Forget About Buying Equipment
If you have purchased your very own studio, congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming a bonafide photographer. However, your studio is useless without equipping it with the proper tools of the trade. Let’s brainstorm through what type of equipment you need:
Backdrops: Every photographer needs to have a few backdrops. Even if portraits are not your bread and butter, having a couple of canvas backdrops on hand is always a good idea. When choosing your backdrop, try to add in some variety so you have a pattern or color for any client need.
Lighting Kits: Lighting will be key in making sure your shots look good. Investing in some powerful continuous lighting will ensure that each and every shot coming out of your studio looks professional.
Posing Gear: If you have ever been to a photo shoot where the photographer did not have a comfortable chair for you to sit in, then you know how terrible of an experience it can be. If your studio lacks comfortable chairs, stools and posing furniture for your clients to use, then your clients could choose to look elsewhere the next time they need pictures taken.
If you decide that a studio is an investment worth chasing, good luck! There will be challenges and obstacles you face along the way, but with this guide and some of your own intuition, you can be successful and grow your business to unfathomable heights.