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Let’s be honest, not many people view their photography as a business these days. But even if you are not a professional photographer, there’s no reason not to view your photography as a business because for many that’s the ultimate aim. But being able to make a career as a photographer has arguably never been more difficult. Any prospective photographer now is not only competing with other photographers but with thousands of people with smart phones as well.
So here are 7 ways to help ensure your photography business stands out from the crowd.
If you think about it logically, you would never start any business without a detailed and well thought out business plan. But for some reason, photographers often forego this part of the business. A good business plan isn’t just necessary if you need to finance your new business from a bank, it also gives you a clear understanding of every element of your business, because after all, this is a business.
Not only will it help you plan your budget, understand your market and audience, plan your growth, and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and how to improve them, it will also make you view your new venture as a business rather than a hobby.
We live in a world where everyone’s first port of call for any information is the Internet, so this is often where anyone interested in your work will head first. A great website is an absolute necessity for any business but as a photographer, it is even more important. But any old website isn’t enough. As someone who’s entire business depends on people seeing your work, it’s vital that you have a website that really showcases your work in the best light possible.
So instead of settling for any cheap website that you can find, really spend time researching all the different options available and choose something that is modern and fits within your style (and budget). Websites are not expensive these days and usually for a few extra dollars a month you can also remove the website company’s branding to make it look even more professional.
Once you have found the right website provider, spend time putting your website together and pay attention to the photos that you are uploading. Don’t showcase every single photo you have ever taken, instead, pick a few that really highlight your best work.
Love it or not, social media is now imperative to any business and whether you are someone who knows your Twitter from your Pinterest or you have absolutely no idea, you need to at least have a presence on a few channels. Spend a bit of time reading about the basics, understand what the best practices are when you have taken the plunge, and make sure you stay true to who you are. The powerful thing about social media is that people choose to follow you and your work because of you, so be yourself and don’t try to imitate other people.
You don’t have to try to cover every social media channel. Just pick a couple that you are comfortable with, communicate, and use them well. Set yourself a clear plan of what each channel is for and what your objective for using it is. This will ensure you have a clear message and brand that carries across everything you do.
While it’s always great to view other photographer’s work and be inspired by them, there is only one you, and that’s the best way of ensuring that your work stands out. Try to take photographs based on what you like rather than what you think your followers want to see. The obvious exception is if you are working from a brief from the client, but even then, the majority of the time the client has hired you because they like your style.
If you are struggling to find your style, a good exercise when you are starting out is to collect any photographs that you particularly like from magazines and newspapers. After a while when you have a collection of them, spread them all out and usually, you will see a similar style or look and feel. That’s where you should start, as that is what your eyes find pleasing. Over time you will adapt that to something that is more unique to you.
Big companies spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing. While we photographers can’t do that, you still need to build a marketing communications strategy into your business plan. Your website and social media presence is a big part of that but you also need to think about specific marketing collateral such as business cards, flyers, post cards and email marketing. All of this combined will give you some much-needed exposure for your business and potential clients. But like any other business, you will need a clear strategy and a marketing plan to get the most out of the money you invest.
There’s no doubt that the most important element of a successful photography business is the quality of your photos. While most of this will come down to your creative flair and technical abilities, the actual quality of the end result will also matter. For example, if a client wants to use your photograph on a big advertising billboard but you captured that photo on a basic point and shoot camera, chances are that the photograph will simply not be of a high enough resolution to enable usage at big sizes. The same can be said of lenses, which is why the best lenses cost more than the others. But beyond the camera and lenses, even accessories such as filters and tripods can make a difference to the quality of the final photo.
So, the lesson here is that you should always go for the very best equipment that you can afford and when you are able to trade your equipment up, do so.
When all is said and done, the ultimate success of your business will come down to the quality of your photographs. A good indication of how your photos are received is to sign up to a stock agency and see which images sell and which don’t. Try to evaluate if there is a common theme between your sales and the ones that don’t sell and use that to improve your work, but still keep to your style.
Learn from your “nearly shots” and from your mistakes and remember that it’s okay to make mistakes at the start. The important thing is to learn from them and ensure you don’t make them again.
For a lot of people, photography is their hobby and that is absolutely fine. But if you do have the ambition of making this a career then the first step towards that is to treat it like any other business and set yourself up properly from the start. Like any other business, with hard work, determination, and a clear plan for your photography business, you can make it successful.
Have you got any further tips or advice? Please share them below.