Updated on October 18th, 2015
10. It always takes a plan.
I talk to photographers all the time who started a business because they love photography. So they create a simple business card, and start offering their services without any thought to the business. No matter what type of business you are trying to build, you have to start with a plan. Is your goal to bring in a part time income every month? Or do you want this to become a six figure business? By setting up goals and tasks that you can see, it’s easier to find a way to make it more successful. It also gives you something to strive for each month.
9. Understand how you will ultimately make a profit.
Even if you have a camera in place, it won’t last forever. And chances are you’ll need more equipment along the way. How about advertising and marketing costs? Insurance to protect you against damages if something doesn’t go right with a client? There are many things to think of when you run a business – not just showing up and shooting, and collecting a few dollars on the side. By putting everything on paper, you can start to see how your prices will ultimately have to cover your overall expenses. Sample – pricing your photography>>
8. Protect yourself.
Do you have adequate insurance for your business? Have you ever thought about turning your business into a corporation? There are many ways to make sure you are covered from all types of problems, accidental or otherwise. Being good at business means you think of all the possibilities before they happen, and make sure you are adequately protected from the start.
7. Don’t forget the contract.
With today’s Internet savvy world, it’s easy to put your photographs everywhere to show off your work. But did your client give you the rights to do so? Make sure you have contracts and model releases in place that give you rights to the photographs for advertising/marketing purposes, and specify Internet rights. Check with an attorney to make sure you are fully covered once the client signs.
6. Don’t be a jack of all trades.
Are you a specialist or a generalist? I’m on sites all the time where the photographer describes himself by saying, “I specialize in weddings, families, babies, children, model portfolios, commercial work, fashion photography…” you get the point. That isn’t specializing; that’s generalizing. Choose what you love to do and do it well. Not only will you become busier – people will know exactly what you do – but you’ll also have an easier time marketing because you are concentrating on finding one type of clientele.
5. Stick with it.
Have you heard the story about the miner who heads west during the gold rush, and stakes his claim. He digs and digs. And digs. Only to abandon everything and head home, leaving his interest to someone else. That person continues to dig, and finds gold 10 feet from where the original miner stopped. Moral: sticking with something to the end will often result in gold. Instead of jumping from idea to idea, advertising source to advertising source, create a plan and see it through. You’re often very close to success right when you are ready to abandon your idea.
4. What separates you from your competition?
Many small business owners get their start by “copying” a mentor. That gives you your idea. Now, what will turn it into your personal success? It’s easier to start a business with a great idea in mind, and someone to follow along the way. But don’t forget to turn it into something personal, something that gives you real passion towards everything you do. This idea develops along the way, so be sure to watch for the types of clients that truly make you happy. Then find more ways to bring in those clients.
3. Know it all or hire those that do.
Bookkeeping. Production work. Paperwork. Taxes. There are so many things that you have to do as a business owner. And I’m positive you could quickly come up with a list of things you hate doing. Instead of spending hours a month doing things that frustrate you, learn to hand those items off as quickly as possible. While its easier to do things ourselves, or put things off because of the cost, it ends up taking away the time you could be doing more productive items.
2. You have to be good at business as well as good at photography.
Yet these two can develop over time. The key is recognizing the two aspects of running a great studio. And knowing when to ask for help to become better at the points you are lacking.
1. Evaluate and learn along the way.
What works for one may not work for another. The important thing is to test and evaluate along the way. What works for you? What doesn’t? Where can you improve? A great business owner will always learn from her mistakes, and use them to refocus future direction. Your failures and successes will help drive you towards future success. It’s all in the way you use what you learn to guide you towards doing it in a better way.