If you’re reading this you’ve probably spent the past few years working on your craft and even potentially earned some money on the side. You may have asked yourself several times, could I make a career out of photography? How would I even start the process of creating a photography business? If this is you, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, I’m going to break starting your own photography business down for you into two sections: “Pre-Steps” and “Starting a business”.
1. Create a website & Social Media Accounts (If you haven’t done so already!)
This might seem pretty obvious to some of you but in this day and age having an up-to-date website and active social media accounts is essential.
Tips for your Website:
- Spend a lot of time researching the layout/presentation and what information/keywords to use. It’s better to focus on a particular niche/area or two, rather than being all over the place. (Think about who your audience/clients will be)
- Look at other photographers in your area and compare your website with theirs
- SEO’s & Keywords – essential when it comes to getting organic views via web searches
Tips for Social Media:
- Be everywhere! Create accounts on every possible platform. (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, etc)
- Be active on all platforms
- Share your best work only (This also applies for your website)
In my opinion, social media is one of the most important aspects of running a photography business. More on this later!
2. Establish yourself to a degree:
This is not always essential but it is highly recommended when creating a business of any sort. What do I mean by this?
- Make sure that you’ve spent some time (preferably a few years) perfecting your craft/skills
- Have a solid portfolio in your niche (I can’t stress enough the importance of this)
- You’ve already started creating a name and/or presence in your niche, locally and/or globally
- If you’ve already had a few jobs in the past, and/or already have a few clients, as well as projects lined up, this will greatly benefit you and your transition into becoming a full-time photographer.
3. Research your Market:
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is your primary area of expertise? (Portraits? Products? Automotive, etc)
- What is your market and how does your market look locally and/or globally?
- Who are your clients? Where are your clients?
- What can you bring to the table that will help make you stand out from your fellow photographers?
With this information, you can now begin creating your photography business!
Starting a Business:
1. Creating a Business Plan:
After researching the topics above you should have a better idea of your market, your potential clients, and earning possibilities.
Determine your cost of doing business / Pricing:
This is a breakdown of all of your annual projected expenses and business costs so that you can determine how to price your services and earn a profit.
Thankfully there are many online resources and calculators to help with this step. I also recently wrote an article on pricing, which you can check out here!
Tip for pricing:
When it comes to pricing, especially at the beginning of your career, make sure to check out how much your peers and fellow photographers are charging! This will help steer you in the right direction on how to price your jobs.
2. Register as a sole trader/proprietor or an LLC:
You can either register as a limited company or as a sole trader. It’s important to note that this process will vary from country to country, so be sure to research the steps required for your particular country. If you have any questions along the way, reach out to your country’s revenue department.
A sole trader is an individual who pays income tax on profits earned from the business. This is the easiest and quickest way to set yourself up for doing business. The downside is that you are liable for all losses.
LLC – Limited Liability Company:
A limited Liability Company exists separately from its owners. What this basically means is that the owners are not personally responsible for the business’s liabilities or debts. This route is more involved and will require a longer period of time to set up properly.
3. Marketing & Advertising:
Now is where all the fun begins! You have your business plan, know your cost of doing business, set up pricing a model, and registered your business. Now what?
Welcome to the world of marketing and advertising. This is most likely where you will spend the majority of your time, at least for a while. You have to let businesses and potential clients know that you exist and that you’re open for business!
Marketing is all about letting brands, businesses, and clients know that you’re open for business.
- Reach out directly to potential clients
- Send out emails stating who you are, what you can do, as well as samples
- Stop by places of business, introduce yourself, and hand out business cards
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and make introductions
- Social Media:
- Grow your social media accounts
- Be active – post often – engage with your community
- Tag brands or companies that you would like to work with in your posts
- Advertise your products/services from time to time
Social Media Tip:
The goal here is to build a community. Let people get to know you. While you should definitely advertise your products/services, don’t overdo it and be a walking billboard. Your community might not appreciate this, so be tasteful!
While you should take advantage of free marketing where possible, setting a budget for paid advertisements is another great option for getting your name and business out there. Here are some examples.
- Social Media
- Paid FB / IG / Twitter Ads (You can target your ads to locations, age ranges, interests, etc)
- Google Ads
- Handing out business cards
4. Networking & Events:
This approach is somewhat overlooked, as it’s easy and comfortable to sit behind a computer screen and send out emails, but I highly recommend also attending networking events. I know that the world has changed over the past year and most in-person events are still not possible. Having said that, many events are still taking place digitally, so definitely be on the lookout for these and attend some events where possible. Connections at the end of the day are what make all of the difference, so put yourself out there!
5. Persistence & Not Giving Up:
Starting a business is always a challenging endeavor. Add to that that you’ve opted to create a business in the creative sector and things become a bit more challenging. Expect things to start off slow and to become a friend of rejection, but don’t let these obstacles deter you! Stay the course and learn from your mistakes. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day!