If there’s nothing you love more than capturing slices of life with beautiful photographs, starting your own photography business could be a rewarding next step in your career. But like any business, building your own photography business from the ground up isn’t as simple as posting flyers and waiting for someone to rip off a tab.
Here’s what you need to know about getting your new photography business up and running.
Draw up Your Business Plan
Before you offer your picture-taking services to potential customers, you have to clearly define what your business will offer. Do you want to photograph weddings? Senior portraits? Live action sports? The upcoming magazine shoot for a Hollywood starlet? The sky’s the limit, but it’s on you to choose which style of photography you do best.
Next, draw up your business plan. This is crucial because it not only helps you clarify your business’s goals, but also gives you a “blueprint” to present to potential investors. Your business plan should include:
- Business Name – What will you call your business? And how does that name capture your brand? (Be sure to double-check with the US Patent and Trademark Office that the name isn’t already taken.)
- Description of Services – What does your business offer, and how will it stand out from the competition?
- Financial Projections and Pricing Structure – How much revenue do you expect your business to generate after one quarter? A fiscal year, etc.? And, taking into account expenses for time, travel, equipment and supplies, how much will you have to charge to hit that number?
- Marketing Strategy – Who is your potential audience? And how will you reach them?
Make it Official
Once you’ve developed your business plan, it’s time to establish your business officially with your county. Head to your county clerk’s office to file the following paperwork:
- List yourself as a Sole Proprietor or Limited Liability Company;
- If necessary, fill out a Fictitious Name statement and a form for collecting and paying state taxes;
- Obtain your business license and any necessary permits.
As soon as your business license is in hand, you can open up a business bank account.
And Now for the Fun Part!
With the paperwork and legal mumbo jumbo out of the way, you’re ready to purchase the camera equipment and office supplies that will make your photography business flourish.
Besides the (hopefully) obvious high-quality camera, be sure to get a hold of:
- Lenses, flashes and plenty of batteries
- The best printer scanner you can find
- Top-notch photo paper
- Dynamic photo editing software
- Packaging for deliveries
Now that you have your equipment, it’s time to introduce your new business to the world!
Here’s what to do:
- Build a Website – So much business is conducted online, that if your potential customers can’t find you in a Google search, your business already has one foot out the door. Drive traffic to your website by beefing it up with compelling blog content.
- Establish a Social Media Presence – Nowadays, having a solid social media presence is just as crucial as having a website. And because you run a business where images are the star, you have a built-in advantage making a splash through Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
- But Don’t Forget to Network in Person Too – The Internet and social media are incredible tools for broadening your audience, but nothing beats introducing yourself to your audience in person. Attend trade shows related to photography and your business’s area of expertise (i.e. if you’re a sports photographer, go to sports trade shows), and shake hands with potential clients. Don’t forget to bring cool business cards!
- Create Marketing Materials – Even in the digital age, guerilla marketing remains effective too. Print out business cards and brochures to leave an impression with the potential clients you meet.
- Enter Local Photography Contests – Oftentimes, the winner will receive prizes in the form of cash or sleek camera equipment. Even if you don’t win, you’re still likely to make valuable contacts with other attendees.
Every new business needs time to grow before it blossoms, and yours won’t be any different. But you can take comfort knowing that people are always going to need the services of a talented photographer. It might as well be you. All you have to do is know what you’re good at, stock up your gear, and go find them.