5 Secrets That Make Some Photographers Successful … And Some Photographers Fail

I bet you’re like this:

If someone asks how your job is going, you say okay. You may elaborate a little, but it’s just a job. Nothing exciting. It pays the bills. You worry if you’ll get a raise next year, or if your job will even exist next year. But for now, it gives you the income you need.

But I bet if someone asks you what you really want to do, something different will take place:

You’ll get that spark in your eye, you’ll sit a little taller, and you’ll feel a little excitement way down deep. You’ll talk about how you’ve been shooting for a while now and really love photography. You met a photographer (or found them online) who is doing something close to what you would love to do. You’re dreaming of turning that idea into a reality … but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So, did I touch any buttons?

I love chatting with people that have a dream. I know because I was once there too. I hated my corporate job and couldn’t imagine doing it for any longer than I had to. I wanted something else I could do that I truly enjoyed. And so I did what many, many people don’t. Andrew and I started it up as a side business.

You see, there is a big difference between dreaming about it and doing something about it. It’s easy to get home at night and sit down completely exhausted from your day, only to say “tomorrow”. But if you keep saying tomorrow, it will never happen.

Instead, we spent nights and weekends learning all we could about business and photography. That’s where most photographers fail – they love learning about photography, but without the business skills, they are almost 95 percent guaranteed to fail.

And that’s what truly set us apart, and allowed us to move to the top 5 percent income earners in the photography field in under two years.

There really is more to a photography business than simply taking pictures. Yes, that’s the fun part. But unless you have just as much fun planning your business, marketing your business, selling to clients, and more, you’ll never achieve success.

Which is why I thought about it and came up with 5 secrets that help people break through the barriers of “just another hobby” to actually start building a successful business model.

1. Think Like A Five Figure Business Owner

There is a big difference between a small business owner and someone with a job.

When you have a job, “the boss” takes care of everything for you. You do your job and get a paycheck. So you don’t see the entire business model under a microscope. You don’t see the marketing, the planning, the accounting, the legal aspects – everything it takes to run the business. You simply do your job and get paid.

Once you start up a photography business – no matter how much you choose to make – there are dozens of things to consider. Do you have insurance to cover your mistakes? Are you bringing in enough prospects to turn them into clients? Is your business set up in the right legal manner?

Yep, you can no longer think like an employee; you have to think like a business owner. And that thought might never have crossed your mind before.

Dig Deeper: Making Peace With The Enemy

In order to succeed as a business, you have to think like a business. And that means changing your mindset to move from an employee to an entrepreneur.

2. How Many Clients Do You Need?

When you’re first starting out, the concept of getting paid for what you do is completely new. So you jump up and down when the first person is willing to pay you for your work. You don’t think about how much they are paying you, or even if it’s the right amount. It’s just exciting to be exchanging money for your photography.

Yet how many clients will it take to bring you in a decent income? How much should you charge to receive a decent income?

What is a decent income?

With a job, they give you a salary amount, and you either accept the position or turn it down. You don’t think beyond the salary offered to you.

With a business, it’s all up to you. You can make $100, or $1,000, or $10,000, or $100,000, or even $1,000,000. It’s all up to you. And the number of clients you bring in has to reflect that.

3. What Does Marketing Really Mean?

What does it take to market your business? You probably need a business card. And maybe a website or something. But what else does it mean?

Marketing isn’t something you do for awhile to bring in a few customers, and then forget it all together. Instead, its something that helps you start your business, grow your business, and take it out as many years into the future as you desire to have a business.

If you know how to market, you can grow your business as large and as successful as you desire.

4. Photographers Online … Gone Wild

The online world right now is the Wild West. Anything goes. Jump on and do whatever you please.

But does it all work? Can you find success with everything online?

Nope. And that’s the problem. Read any type of business advice and they’ll have you believing its as easy as signing up for a free Facebook account, finding a few friends, making a few posts, and the clients will stream through the doors.

Nope. Not going to happen.

Just like anything in business, you have to have a plan. The online world is simply an extension to your marketing plan. Work them together and you’ll achieve much more in a shorter period of time.

5. The Perfect Storm

“If I can only make $10,000 a year, I’ll be living on easy street.”

My dad use to tell a story of how his one dream after he finished college was to find a job that allowed him to make $10,000 a year. He would have it all. Enough to buy a house, raise a family, live a good life.

Looking back, its funny. But the point is things change. What may be “perfect” today may seem silly and ridiculous a few years from now.

And that’s okay. That’s what keeps us human, what keeps us moving forward.

Dreams change. Times change. Our lives change. And when all of that happens, your next step can and should be built to give you what you want at that particular point in time.

When Andrew and I were in Europe this summer, we started talking about how photography changed who we are … how it’s influenced our lives from the beginning all the way through to today. Yes, we’re not in the same place with our business today as we were back in the mid 1990’s.

But the one thing that really made a difference in our lives is taking action and being able to see beyond what existed when we first started out. We had no idea what we were capable of, or even if we could sustain a lifestyle on a photographer’s salary. But with mentors, advice and action, we took it all the way up to the top.

Yes, we studied photography every day from some of the best in the industry. But what helped us most of all was spending equal time on the business side of things. Without that, our business never would have flourished.

Which is why we decided to do something about it. There are many, many of you out there with a dream. Maybe you’ve been holding back not knowing how to start. Or have a client or two under your belt, but just don’t know what steps to take next.

Maybe you want a little supplemental income to make your family a little more secure. Maybe you lost your job, and this is the one shot you have at building a career.

Five Figure Photographer is for you. It’s a simple, step by step program that takes you through what you need to do to get started in this business, and walks you through building it up into a solid five figure income.

This allows you to build the foundation so you can supplement or even replace your current salary, and learn the tools that will allow you to take your ideas as far as you choose.

And if you act fast, I have a special bonus for 20 lucky people. I know as you start out, there is always one question – one problem – that holds you back. I want to give 20 people a one-on-one coaching session to help you work through that barrier.

Sound like the perfect program for you? Are you ready to make these last few months of 2012 the best they can be?

Five Figure Photographer – check it out now.

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • great post on getting a photo biz going. With the reduction in price for decent cameras, the business is definitely changing at a rapid pace. The entry point isn’t quite what it used to be….

  • Hi Robert
    Yep, that just means we have to approach the biz side of things differently. Always have to do what the consumers can’t.
    Lori