With the decline in cost for quality camera bodies and equipment, we’ve seen an increase in emerging talent. Unfortunately, there has also been an equal amount of increase in photography related businesses. From portrait and wedding photography to street and documentary photography, it seems there is a new photographer born every day. However, if you really want to have a successful photography business, there are 5 things you need to consider before you print out your first business card.
1. Are you technically proficient? Your client will expect you to not only be well acquainted with your camera and gear but also with editing software such as Photoshop and Lightroom. If you find your strengths lie in one over the other, I suggest you hold off on launching your business until you can confidently tell your client that you can handle anything they ask of you. This way, your client is not only happy with your work but just as happy to spread the word about your business to friends and family.
2. Are you ready to deal with business legalities? Starting a photography business is no different than starting any business. There are forms to fill out, tax documents to file, permits, licenses, and contracts. Even if you hire someone to handle all the paperwork, your job as business owner is to be well informed as to all the legalities pertaining to the success of your business.
3. Do you know your operating costs? Whether you rent an office or work out of your home, every business (and every job) comes with unavoidable costs. Rent, transportation, licenses, fees, equipment maintenance, office supplies, wages, etc. Calculating all your costs on a monthly and yearly basis as well as account for any “slow seasons” you may encounter will help you determine your pricing per job. As your business grows, so will your costs as well as your pricing.
4. Have you done your homework? Research is key before starting your photography business. Market trends, demands, and influences as well as potential client base in your area are all factors you need to learn before you start. Is your area saturated with wedding and event photographers? Are the photographers in your area less inclined to work with small children? “Research should include identifying marketing information, trends, and the SWOT (SWOT = Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats to the business) analysis of competitors.” This will help you maintain an competitive edge above your competition.
5. Do you know how to manage clients? All the legalities and market research aside, your top priority once you’ve started your photography business is dealing with and managing clients. Scheduling appointments, consultations, booking location shoots, and addressing individual client needs can be overwhelming especially if this is your first time as an entrepreneur. Establishing a “fool-proof” workflow ethic from the start will help you minimize your day-to-day stresses.
“Having the right answers to these considerations does not guarantee a successful business but will increase probability for success, higher level of client satisfaction and less frustration along the way.”