Top 5 Tips to Start a Photography Business

Starting a photography business can be a highly rewarding experience that gives you a lot of freedom to do something you love. While many people start out in the photography world with the best intentions many of them fail to get their business off the ground because they don’t put in the necessary work to start a successful photography business. At the beginning and even throughout the lifespan of your photography business you will not just worry about taking amazing images, there are a number of other details you'll want to make sure you take care of at the beginning phase to grow your business from the start.

  1. Business plan

A business plan can be a tedious amount of work to write and many photographers skip over this all together. Creating a business plan, however, will give you more clarity on where you want your business to go, your goals, finances, expectation and more. Your business plan will be a complete summary of your business and is necessary if you are planning on asking for any type of loan to get started. Some of the key areas your business plan will include are:

  • Your mission statement.
  • Start off budget.
  • Financial forecast.
  • Target audience.
  • Marketing plan.
  • Future expansions.

 A majority of the items that follow should already be included in your business plan and are vital for establishing a successful photography business.

  1. Bookkeeping for tax purposes

A huge mistake many beginner photographers make is not setting up a proper bookkeeping method. This is vital not only to ensure that you get paid what you are supposed to but is necessary when tax season comes around. You want to make sure you take into account the amount of taxes you will most likely owe in regards to the money you are getting paid. You also want to keep records of the equipment you use or any business purchases you make for tax write-offs. Additionally, you need to keep careful records of travel expenses and any other business related expenses. For this, you might want to consider working with a financial adviser to ensure you keep everything properly and well organized. We hire a professional accountant to do our taxes for our photography business. This saves us loads of time, plus, their tax preparation fee is also a tax write-off.

  1. Bank account

To keep you personal and business spending separate you want to set up a bank account specifically for your business. This will also make things significantly easier when it comes time for taxes. 

  1. Pricing

Knowing how to set up your pricing is important to build a successful photography business. While you may be tempted to charge lower than what other photographers are charging in your area this often will not result in more business. To properly create your pricing list consider just how many hours you want to dedicate to your business each month or week. This should include the time you'll spend editing, traveling, shooting and consultations. Then figure how much money you realistically want to make. This will give you a general idea of how to price your sessions.

  1. Portfolio

Creating a portfolio of your best images will be a primary focus when you just start out. While you don't have to have hundreds of images you need to have something to show potential clients what type of photographer you are. Click here for tips on how to create a killer portfolio.

Top Tips for Building Your Photography Portfolio

When you’re starting out as a photographer, one obstacle that you’ll need to overcome is how to build a photography portfolio. If you want to attract new clients, you’re going to have to showcase your experience.

Very often photographers will use stock images in their marketing material because they don’t have images of their own. This is not the best approach. The reason for this is because if a potential client inquires about one of the stock images or asks for something similar, would you definitely be able to replicate it?

A good portfolio is an essential tool for all photographers; it’s what you’re selling. Your portfolio is the physical product that potential customers will look at when deciding whether or not to hire you.

Top tips for building a killer portfolio

Below are a few ideas to help you build a portfolio that sells:

  1. Sign-up for a workshop. As a photographer, you never stop learning. There’s always a course or workshop that you can attend to improve your skills. If you’re looking to attend a workshop or course, try and choose one that offers a shootout or model photo shoot so that you can leave with images to use in your portfolio. Just remember to find out whether you’re workshop host allows you to use the images in your portfolio or for marketing purposes. Even though the other workshop attendees might be using these images in their own portfolios, at least you will have something to show potential clients.
  1. Use what you have. There’s a good chance that some of your family and friends represent your target audience. If they do, ask for their help in building your portfolio. Do you know of a friend who’s getting married soon? Ask if you can shoot some engagement photos for them. Have a sister who’s having a baby? Arrange a maternity or newborn shoot for them.
  1. Hire models. If you have the budget, hiring one or two models for a shoot is a great way to start building your photography portfolio. You’ll find a few websites where people who are new to the modeling scene will be willing to exchange time in front of the camera for prints. While this can be an affordable route to take, these models don’t necessarily have enough experience to give you really good results. It’s best to approach a professional modeling agency about hiring models for the day. Make sure that your model’s hair, makeup, and outfits look impeccable and stylish, and ask that they have a few different outfits ready for the day so that you can get several different shots. You may want to select the outfits for them ahead of time to make sure the look resonates with the target market you are trying t reach. And don’t forget that model release form!
  1. Shoot for free? As a new photographer, you need to find a balance between building your portfolio and still earning an income. Offering to shoot photos for free doesn’t mean that you’re giving everything away for free though. Try offering the “sitting fee” or “session fee” only for for free (and use the word “complimentary” instead of “free”) and then give the clients the opportunity to purchase prints from you. This way you’re still making some money for your time. Put a time limit on the shoot to make it worth your while and don’t forget to setup the in person sales meeting with them afterwards so that you can sell them the prints, albums or canvases. This approach helps get potential customers through your door and gives you invaluable experience, plus helps you make some money at the same time.
  1. Arrange a styled shoot. Successful photographers know how important networking and industry partnerships are. Make a list of vendors who compliment your area of expertise and arrange a shoot with them. This way everyone is contributing something to the shoot and benefitting from it at the same time. You’ll also make some great connections for any upcoming shoots or events. For example, if you specialize in weddings, partner with a venue and a caterer for some great shots that you can all use in your portfolios. As an added bonus, create a small welcome guide or brochure that includes the images and the details of all vendors involved so that everyone can use it for marketing purposes.

Building a photographic portfolio isn’t difficult, it just requires a bit of planning and some creative thinking.

A Photographer's Guide to Pricing Mini Sessions

photographer's guide to pricing mini sessions

Mini sessions are a great way for photographers to add a new offering to the mix that will appeal to a wider audience. Offering mini sessions doesn’t mean selling your regular services and products for less money, instead it means simplifying your offering and spending less time on the shoot.

One of the biggest questions most photographers have is how do I price my mini sessions? Below are some things you will want to consider when creating your price strategy.

How to price your mini photography sessions

  1. Outline your goals. Decide how much income you would like to make from the sessions and how much time you will be willing to dedicate to them.
  1. Consider all expenses. Before you set your prices, remember to factor in all costs that you may incur including marketing, editing, props and hiring an assistant.
  1. Limit the time. A mini session shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes so consider this when setting your prices and timeline.
  1. Make it a limited offer. To make your mini sessions even more appealing, highlight the fact that they’re available for a limited time only. Scarcity motivates people to take action sooner rather than later so that they don’t miss out. By making your mini sessions sound more exclusive, you’ll attract clients faster.
  1. Add something extra. Increase the appeal of your mini sessions by adding something unique to your offering such as a frame or an 8x10 print. Don’t forget to factor this into your pricing.
  1. Create packages. Change up the available options by offering mini session packages. But don’t offer too many options to choose from as it can be overwhelming. I suggest limiting the packages to no more than three with your optimal pricing package being the middle one.
  1. Outline the session. Make sure that potential clients understand that the mini session won’t be like a regular photo session. It will be specific and simple and won’t include outfit and background changes.
  1. Create a fun price list. Make your mini session price list stand out by running sessions around special events such as Mother’s Day or Christmas. And make sure all your marketing materials and mini session price sheets match when it comes to design.

    How to Get Moms as Clients for Your Photography Business

    Mother's day is a great way to not only bring in a lot of new clients but can also be a great way to show some extra appreciation for the many moms in your community. While May can be a busy time for most photographers you don't want to pass on the opportunity to do something special just for the moms near you. When you develop a relationship with these moms early they are more likely to think of you when they need photos of their family, kids, or special events. Here are 3 ways you can attract more mom clients to your business for Mother's Day.

    1 - Mommy and Me mini sessions

    One of the best ways to bring in new clients is to set up a mini session. Mommy and me mini session are a fantastic way to promote your business to new clients who may not have the means or time to book a full session with you. While mini sessions can be a good amount of work in a short period of time they can be hugely successful and beneficial. Not only will you get to meet new clients but, assuming all goes well, you will have a significant amount of raving reviews to help boost your reputation as well as get some new referrals.

    2-Teach a mom's digital photography class

    Momtographers is a thing. Plenty of moms pick up photography as a hobby once they have kids because they simply are taking hundreds of more photos they ever have before. Whether they want to start a side business or just want to learn how to take better images of their little ones you can offer up a Mother’s day photography class or a Mommy and Me Photography Class for them to bring their littles. It can be a great way to make new connections, bring in new clients and get your named passed around to a whole new market.

    3- Mommy makeover headshots

    Mom's are so busy taking care of everyone else that they simply forget that they deserve a little special treatment every now and then. Chances are you already know plenty of hair and makeup artist in your area that may be willing to do a special for mother's day. Team up with your favorite hair or makeup artist to give moms a little makeover before stepping in front of the camera. Not only will you have the moms you reach but also the moms the hair or makeup artist brings in to fill your schedule with.

    Why Your Wedding Photography Business Needs a Blog

    why your photography business needs a blog

    More and more wedding photographers are actively running blogs on their websites, including well known photographers such as Katelyn James, and Jasmine Star. So why is it important for wedding photographers to have blogs?

    As a wedding photographer, your clients are including you in a very special and personal day in their lives. They’re trusting you to capture moments throughout the day that they’ll treasure forever, which is why the more they can get to know you, the more they’ll trust you and want to hire you.

    Top 3 reasons to have a wedding photography blog

    1. Educate your clients. Brides are always on the lookout for tips and information that will help make their day as perfect as possible. A blog gives you the chance to educate potential clients and might even get them thinking about extras such as engagement sessions, bridal portraits and day after shoots, providing you with great up-selling opportunities. Imagine how much better your clients’ weddings would flow if you’ve already educated them on things such as how to pose, the first look, the cake cutting and how to get family members together for formal photos.
    1. Showcase your work. Running a blog ensures that you’re always updating your website with your latest work. Use your photos in your blog posts to demonstrate ideas, poses, and tips and showcase your work at the same time. This also gives potential clients a better idea of your shooting style and what they can expect if they decide to hire you. Brides usually also share tips and ideas with friends, family, and their wedding party, offering you additional reach and opening the door to referrals.
    1. Search engine optimization. When someone searches for a wedding photographer in your area, you want your website to show up on the first page of Google and actively running a blog will increase your chances of ranking well, especially when you’re using keywords in your copy. Being present on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat is also a great way to share your work and boost your online rankings but Instagram posts and comments fade and Snapchats disappear after 24 hours. Having a blog means you’ll be able to preserve your work and clients will always be able to find your content and portfolio.

    Not only will a blog showcase your expertise but it will give you the opportunity to let your personality shine through. It will also give clients a good idea of what it’s like to work with you and ultimately help you connect with your ideal client.

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