7 Tips for Aspiring Professional Photographers
Guest Post By: Maurine Anderson
Thinking of starting a photography business? I myself only do part-time professional photo work, but I know and have worked with quite a few full-time professional photographers. And over the years, I’ve gathered quite a few tips from them on the dos and don’ts of starting a photography business. Here are the best tips that I’ve seen, heard, and tried regarding starting a photography business.
Start a website and blog.
Your website is going to serve as your portfolio, and a blog can help generate traffic to your site and increase your Google rankings. Start a clean, professional looking website via Wordpress or Squarespace (Squarespace is getting increasingly popular these days), and post your best photo work there regularly.
Consistent branding is going to help people recognize your name or photography business name instantly. Start by creating a simple, yet memorable logo for the header on your website. (A lot of skilled artists on Etsy offer logo creation services for a modest price.) Then, use your logo on all other paperwork associated with your business, such as on your pricing lists, contracts, and watermark if you choose to use one.
Don’t forget about the tangibles.
As a professional photographer, you’re going to work with a lot of tangible products as well, such as business cards, photo albums, photo envelopes, and flash drives. Consider having these things branded with your logo as well. It’s a small touch, but it can make a big difference and leave a big impression with your clients. Even years after working with a client, these branded items will remain with your clients—and perhaps even serve as a marketing tool that attracts new clients down the road. This article has some great ideas on promo products for photographers.
Embrace social media.
No one is going to care about what you’re doing unless you make them care about it. Outside of personal referrals, social media is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal for marketing your business. Create a strong Instagram presence by using relevant hashtags such as #weddingphotographer, #newenglandwedding, and #weddinginspo. Garner a following on Pinterest by sharing your own blog posts there and creating inspiration boards for your favorite photography styles. Mark your territory on Facebook with an amazing cover photo, eye catching posts, and authentic engagement with your followers. There is a wealth of knowledge to be had about social media marketing that can’t be detailed at length in this blog post—just know that you truly can’t underestimate the power of social media in your photography business marketing.
Remember that you aren’t just a photographer.
Simply having strong photography skills isn’t going to make you a successful photographer; you need to have strong business management skills as well. As a self-employed photographer, you’re going to wear many hats, including customer service expert, marketing strategy director, social media marketer, secretary, and bookkeeper. You’ll have to apply for and submit all of the necessary paperwork to make your business a bona fide business. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can work on improving your skills in all of these areas as well.
Don’t forget about taxes.
Photographers have to handle day-to-day business operations just as other business owners do. And one mistake that many self-employed individuals make is forgetting to think about taxes. Being self-employed can make you forget about your income tax burden throughout the majority of the year, but you’re going to have to pay your share of taxes come tax season. This article has some great tips on preparing for tax season during the year, as well as on how to handle taxes come tax season.
Know that there will be days when you don’t like being a photographer.
On a similar note, it’s important to remember that owning a photography business simply isn’t the same thing as pursuing photography as a hobby. There are going to be days when you don’t like doing photo work for a living. It can be hard, for example, to take initiative and get work done when you don’t have a boss standing over your head. It can be hard feeling as though other people don’t take you seriously as a business owner. It can be hard to keep chugging away at work when things in your personal life are kind of a mess. Just know that it is okay to not always love what you do. It’s called work for a reason. And having good days and bad days simply makes you human.