If you’re reading this article, odds are someone has told you that you take really great pictures and you should start up your own business. It’s exciting to think about turning your passion into your full time job, but before you jump head first into this endeavor here are a few things you should think about.
1. Picture yourself as a business owner
It’s thrilling to think about being a photographer, but have you thought about being a business owner. What most people don’t know is that only about 10%-20% of your time is actually spent taking photographs. That other 80% or more is spent actually working on your business. Whether it’s dealing with paperwork, doing the accounting, creating marketing pieces, dealing with disgruntled customers, or updating your website, these are not the tasks most aspiring photographers dream of doing, but they are a crucial part of staying in business.
If you haven’t thought about this yet, take a few minutes to do so. Would you be happy keeping track of your sales and taxes? Would you have fun working on marketing pieces for your business? How much would you enjoy dealing with customer queries – even unpleasant ones? All of these things are part of owning a business and part of a photographer’s everyday job.
2. Think about what kind of photography business you want to have
If you are contemplating starting a photography business, I’m sure you love taking pictures, but have you thought about what you really love taking pictures of? There are so many different specialties you can focus on in this world. There’s wedding photography, senior photography, newborn photography, family photography, sports photography, and a slew of other focuses as well.
It is often encouraged that you select a specialty or one area that you focus on. The benefit of doing this is that it makes it far easier for you to find your target market to advertise and promote yourself. But determining what your favorite thing to shoot is can be difficult. So take some time to think about what you really enjoy documenting.
3. Think about time and money
This is another side to the business that is easy to not even think about. Take some time to write down all the business expenses you think you’ll have starting out. This would include things like: camera equipment, website domain, website hosting, website design, logo design, filing with the state, sample products, software… As you can see this list can become quite extensive and the numbers can add up very quickly. But it’s much better to go into starting a business having an idea in mind of what it’s going to cost you.
Equally important is considering how much time you will spend working in and on your new business. Starting a business can be incredibly time consuming. If you already have a full time job and plan to start your photography business on the side. It’s good to set boundaries for how much time you will spend working. It’s far too easy to get caught up in this exciting new adventure and let time with your family and loved ones fall by the wayside. So be sure you are ready to invest more hours than you expect into this business.
4. Talk to other business owners about their lives
If you want to gain a real perspective on what owning a business is like talk to a small business owner in your area. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a photographer, though their insights would be most relevant, any business owner can give you a perspective on what it’s like. Take them out to lunch and pick their brains. Ask them what their average day is like as a business owner. What their favorite and least favorite things about owning a business are. What they would do differently if they could start all over again. All of their thoughts and opinions can help give you a better idea of whether or not this is the right choice for you.
5. Come up with a Business Plan
You’ve thought about it all, the time and money you’ll have to invest, the struggles you may encounter and the type of photography you’d like to shoot and you are ready to start moving forward with your new business. The last step of thinking about it and the first steps towards building your company are to create a business plan. It is the one step that is so often overlooked but the one that makes the biggest difference in developing and growing your business.
A business plan is basically a formal statement of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It often also contains background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals. For example, my business plan is “Green Tree Media Photography helps our preserve memories and captures the soul and essence of our families, seniors, newborns, and couples. We thrive on repeat business by developing relationships with our clients and providing exceptional care and unique and beautiful art pieces for their walls and home, while maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with our family and loved ones.”
As you can see – I’ve outlined what I like to photograph, the type of service I plan to provide, how I plan to do it and because my husband and family are important to me I’ve included them in my business plan as well. This serves as a constant reminder to me of where I’m heading, what I need to do and what’s most important. Your business plan, of course, evolves with your business, but it can be incredibly beneficial to head into the game with a business plan in mind.
So there you have it. Five Steps for Starting your photography business. Now you may have noticed that the first four steps were more about thinking and preparing than actually taking action, and there is a reason for that. It is so easy to jump into business too quickly and to let your excitement get ahead of you. At this point in time, many photography businesses are failing in the first 2 year of business. So to avoid adding yourself to that statistic, take the time to think through all the facets of owning a business so you can make the best and right choice for you and your family.
Stephanie lives in Central IL, is married to her best friend, Ryan, and enjoys the company of her rambunctious lab-beagle pup, Kit. She is the owner of Green Tree Media and is passionate about photography. To learn more about Stephanie Gagnon of Green Tree Media, visit her website at: http://www.greentreemediaonline.com