How to Restart a Photography Business
Summer is approaching and for military families, that means it’s moving season! My family has been at our current Air Force base for almost three years and are set to move cross country again (from Idaho to North Carolina) in just a few weeks. Having a photography business and being a military wife is an asset because I can pick up everything and move when Uncle Sam tells us it’s time to go again. However, restarting a business and rebuilding a client base can be challenging to anyone, whether you are military or moving for other reasons. As I start to plan our relocation again, here are some tips that have helped me and other business owners that have relocated our photography businesses.
1. Know the legal requirements in your new area. Research what is required of you for licensing, permits, etc. For example, when we were stationed in Florida, I had to have both a county and city business license and file a fictitious name request. Some counties also had the standard sales tax plus an additional amount to charge clients. Know if your new area allows home-based businesses or not. The Small Business Administration is a great place to start to research requirements if you are moving to another state.
2. Network with other photographers both before and after your move. I knew we were moving to the Boise, Idaho area and emailed back and forth with other local photographers that were on a common photography forum, introducing myself and my business. After I arrived, I joined up with a local photographer group through Facebook and was able to meet many of them through meet ups and shootouts. Being the new person in town can cause hesitation from some people, but when I formed relationships, most realized that I was just another photographer who LOVES to shoot and be creative. When I move soon, I’ll be saddened to leave some of my photographer friends behind.
3. Begin preparing and saving now. Obtaining permits, licenses, etc. can add up in cost. If you know your contact information for your new location, begin ordering business cards and marketing materials. These costs can add up, but it’s also a GREAT advantage for you! As we know, photography is so much more than just shooting and a lot of it is in how well you run the business side. Take time to reflect on what has and has not worked well for you. Revisit your business plan and make any changes in pricing or policies that you have found need improvement. It’s also a great chance to rebrand and to revamp your website. You’ll have a fresh new set of eyes viewing your site and your marketing materials so make sure they really highlight your style and your best work. It’s an amazing way to have a fresh start in your business.
4. After you move and get settled, become acquainted with your new area. Pinpoint your target market and learn where you can find those clients. If you are a wedding photographer, consider visiting local florists and caterers to introduce yourself in person and ask if you can leave business or marketing cards. I focus on children’s photography and had to be a little creative in our small town. With a lack of children’s boutiques and other places my target market usually frequents, I found that my best places to get my name out to other moms of small children were the library and a local playgroup. Becoming the photographer for a local preschool also helped me gain a bigger client base.
5. Consider a “New Kid in Town” special for a short time to get your name out to the community. I created marketing cards advertising myself and offered a limited time discount on sessions. I also put a client referral program into place so they were eager to share my name and information with their friends. Word of mouth has always been my best advertisement and I gained quality clients from the marketing cards. Treating them with respect and delivering a high quality product made my new clients more than eager to share my name with their other friends.
Relocating your business can be daunting! As you start from scratch again, it is hard work to prove yourself and gain respect from the community and other photographers. But it also gives you a fresh start and renewed excitement in your business as you get to watch it grow again.
Melissa Gephardt is a military wife and mom of 3 who specializes in children’s portraiture. Currently residing in Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, she looks forward to their next adventure in life as they move to another military base this summer! Her work can be found at www.melissagphotography.com or on Facebook at Melissa Gephardt Photography .