Wondering how to start a career as a professional photographer? Wonder no more. Here we have collected a list of essential things you may need to start a successful photography career.
Establishing your own photography business is a full-time job. The best way to make it work for you is to create a long-term plan, even if it’s just a draft in your Evernote or a bookmarked article.
Besides dreaming of becoming your own boss, you need to know all the costs, pros and cons. If you have already set up your photography business, this article may help you to revisit certain aspects of it and improve it.
1. Complete Your Marketing Plan
Marketing requires time and effort, but it’s totally worth it. A proper marketing plan will help you to grow your sales and take your business to the next level. And it’s not as complicated as you may think. You just need to find a way to implement marketing into your business routine.
Consider the following categories while putting together your marketing plan:
- Social Media: Facebook fan page, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest;
- SEO: Search engine optimization of your website and blogging;
- Follow Up with Previous Clients: updates, discounts, postcards, “thank you” cards;
- In-person visits: local vendors and stores to give your business cards to;
- Events: trade shows, exhibitions, volunteer events;
- Outbound marketing: weekly email newsletter.
These are just some of the categories you will need to think of when planning your marketing efforts if you want to see your business grow.
2. Start Facebook and Google Place Pages
Social media sites are the best tools when it comes to getting your name out there! Facebook is a brilliant tool to consider. Not only because there are so many people on Facebook but because it’s totally free.
Be sure to add all former colleagues and clients as friends on Facebook. This way, every time you share a new post on Facebook, you can tag certain people and their friends will see your post too. Instantly!
If a lot of your work is generated through word-of-mouth, having the ability to reach a lot of friends’ friends could be really helpful to your business.
Google is another giant in the social media world. You may already have heard of Google My Business. This is a service that almost every successful businessman is using today. There you can describe your business with searchable tags such as “Florida photo studio” or “family photographer”.
You can post your photos in a portfolio along with a video. Moreover, Google My Business allows your clients to review your work. The more followers and people who are talking about you out there, the bigger the chance your site will appear on top in Google search results. This makes all your hard work worth it.
3. Shoot for Free (Portfolio Building)
There are so many photographers out there, which make this career really competitive. However, what will make a client choose you above someone else is if they know you or know someone who knows you. To build a network around your brand and make people talk about you, you need to get them to see your work.
Your portfolio needs pictures of different locations, styles and subjects, therefore you need to get pictures of these types of styles and clients. There are plenty of people and small businesses that will want you to take pictures for them for free or at a discounted rate. Later these people may bring you new clients by talking about your services to their friends or mentioning the fabulous pictures you have on your portfolio site. Thus, this approach is definitely beneficial.
4. Set Up Your Workflow
A good photographer needs to set up workflow for one big reason: you need to stay productive. It is very important to mention how important time management is, as this will have a big influence on the success or failure of your business. So, work hard on establishing your workflow routine to be productive and maximize your profits.
The usual workflow of a photographer looks something like this: finding a client, meeting, shooting, downloading photos, backing up, proofing the photos, editing, and delivering the final product. You can save time on each stage, if your workflow is set up right. As a rule, editing may be the most time-consuming process, so make sure to use some Photoshop actions and/or Lightroom presets to save you time.
Besides shooting and editing workflow, you’ll be surprised to know how much time you might need to answer phone calls and emails, meeting with clients, blogging, printing products and samples, and more.
5. Start Blogging
There are so many good reasons to start blogging! First things first, a blog is a place where you can show your visitors who you are and provide some valuable tips, such as what to wear on a photoset, what the best locations are in your area, or just share pics from your latest photo shoot. It’s also a great place to allow possible clients to get to know you better: just upload a video from behind the scenes to give your visitors a sneak peek of what it may be like to work with you.
The second reason to consider blogging on your site is SEO, of course. As portfolio sites are generally not updated that often, Google just doesn’t see them. By publishing posts on your blog, you will get a chance to get on top in Google search results. The more visitors, likes and shares you get, the more likely your blog will get more traffic.
The third reason is to give your brand a boost and build a strong community around it. A good example of this is Jasmine Star. On her blog she has posted some letters from her readers and clients, helping them to solve some issues. This is one of the ways to get clients’ feedback and use it properly.
6. Get a Portfolio Website
As a photographer, you need a website to start your photography business. Your portfolio will be the face of your business and the best marketing tool, so make sure to check carefully what you are going to display and share there.
It might be tough to try and get a portfolio together at first and you may have to do some free work to get great photo samples. If so, just try to make the most out of the situation: follow up on these clients and take advantage of networking.
A modern photography portfolio site should have the following essential elements:
- Categorized galleries with search ability;
- File delivery tool or client galleries;
- Newsletter signup form;
- Contact me page;
- About me page;
- E-commerce store (if you sell any photography products);
There are so many options out there, both free and paid for, for creating a portfolio site. You need to consider your budget when deciding what kind of platform you will use to create your portfolio. Defrozo and Koken.me are the best free platforms that allow you to create a portfolio, blog, set up clients galleries and add a lot more tasks within the tools. When it comes to paid services, consider Zenfolio and LaunchCapsule.com.
Also, don’t forget that there is another option: instead of doing it yourself, you may hire a specialist to create a site for you. Just make sure you will be able to upgrade your site yourself every time you need to.
7. Keep evergreen relationships with your clients
As I have mentioned before, it’s critically important to stay in touch with your previous clients. As they are already familiar with you and the services you provide, make sure to let them know about new products or special offers you have, like seasonal specials on photo shoots. Don’t forget to send them “thank you” notes after your photo session and a happy birthday message on their birthdays (even if Facebook has to remind you about it). Even if they won’t require your services any time soon, there is a huge chance they will tell their friends and relatives about you if they were impressed with your work. In this way word-of-mouth may work for you.
Over to You
I hope this article is helpful to you. Please, share with us your own tips on how to start your photography business. Also, if you enjoyed reading this article, make sure to share it on social media.
Nancy, the author of this post, is a passionate freelance writer and blogger. She writes tons of inspirational articles on photography and web design, despite the fact that she is an economist by education. She enjoys reading, learning SEO and also losing her mind to French movies. You can check out her photography blog Photodoto and follow her on Twitter.