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Pro Tips for Starting a Photography Business—Part 2: Key Business Strategies

March 15, 2017  •  3 Comments

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By Rachel Brill

Transitioning from photography as a hobby to a full-fledged business can be incredibly fulfilling, but it can also be stressful. We’re here to help, so we asked some of the top pros in the industry “What is the one thing every photographer needs to know when starting a photography business?” We divided their answers into three themes: stay true to yourself, business strategies, and creating a business plan. In Part 1, we delved into the first theme: Trust that what makes you unique will make you successful. Now, in Part 2, we share key business strategies from five professionals.


Create an Impressive Portfolio First

Fine art photographer Dan Ballard encourages photographers to take the time to create an impressive body of work before going pro. “Create great images and everything else will follow. While you certainly need great marketing and business skills, if you have great content to promote and share doors will open with a slight nudge instead of a hard push. Spend years perfecting your craft before trying to go pro,” he said.    


Find a Mentor

Seeking out mentors is an effective way to advance quickly along your path. Wedding photographer Tiree Dawson said, “It can be a huge help to find a mentor when you set out to start your photography business. Ideally, try to find someone who has a successful photography career and has the time and willingness to share their experience with you. It doesn't matter if their style isn't the same as yours, or they work in a different area—it can in fact be a plus! Spending time with someone who has already trodden parts of the path you are embarking on can be one of the quickest ways to learn and to achieve the success you hope for.”


Be Prepared to Hustle

To achieve professional success you need to have the right mix of creative skills, business know-how, and a strong sense of initiative. Documentary photographer and photojournalist Ginny Dixon said, “I know lots of great photographers who can't make a living doing photography because they don't know how to hustle and aren't smart in business. Likewise, I know several mediocre photographers who kill it because they have great business, social media and branding skills. You have to do be willing to do it all and all the time.”


Be Reliable

Building a reputation as a reliable professional will give you a business advantage, according to landscape and portrait photographer Joseph Roybal. “When it comes to client satisfaction and content delivery, you can never do too much. Over deliver, deliver content early, and communicate openly and freely. Do not fall into the stereotype of ‘photographers are flakes.’ Breaking that stereotype down from the beginning will set you up for success and also set you apart from your competition in the field,” he said.


Create a Beautiful Website

Fashion and glamour photographer Lou Freeman emphasizes the importance of creating a great first impression with your website. “Your website and online presence is your storefront and the most important draw to confirm your sales options. A wonderfully designed and well-executed site will allow your possible clients no option but to buy your services,” she said.


In addition to having a dynamic website, it’s imperative to have a well-thought-out business plan. In Part 3 of this series the pros explain why you need a business plan and the essential elements you’ll want to include.


Rachel About 7_2013Rachel About 7_2013


 Rachel Brill is a marketing editor at Zenfolio. She has been editing for 13 years and writing for six years. She has a BA in journalism and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Thank you for the great tips and advice
Photography is one of the most exciting hobbies you can pick up, but when you're first starting out it can all just seem so daunting. But don't get discouraged! It's important to remember that everyone started somewhere. There are no Mozarts in photography, virtuoso geniuses who were born knowing everything there is to know about the craft. More often we began like Beethoven, sitting at the piano in tears.

But while learning how to compose a symphony would take years of practice, composing a great photo can be done at the click of a button—if you know what you're doing. Fret not if you don't, however, we've got some simple tips that are easy to remember, easy to follow, can be used with any camera, and will improve your photos in no time—no technical knowledge required.

10 Things That Must Be Known When Starting Photography
Paulina Sobczak(non-registered)
Hi Rachel, Thanks so much for this. It was a very helpful read. One of the most useful tips I would have to agree on is getting a mentor. My partner has run a number of successful businesses over years, and he's been guiding me at lot.

His 5 simple helpful tips have been, so important to my growth.

1. Research, Understand, Plan, Execute.
2.Don't rush into things without understanding what it is and what impact it will have on your business. Something I am learning a lot.
3. Make a realistic budget, and revisit your business plan on a weekly basis.
4. Running a business is 80% business 20% creativity. Make sure the balance it right at the start, otherwise you will focus too much of your time editing beautiful photos and not enough time being organised and finding new customers. As you get more customers, you can hire someone maybe. Which would free up more time for you to be more creative?
5. Don't get trapped by fear. You are good enough. Have faith in yourself.

Paul Sobczak
<a href="https://www.paulinasobczak.com/">North London Photograhper</a>
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