Tips on Starting a Photography Business
DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert. But, I am a believer that sharing is caring!
Really, I am not an expert by any means … Honestly, I have such a long way to go and sometimes feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. But, when I look back on my old blog posts then I do see just how far I have come — though, I may not be where I want to be today. That’s okay, we all have to start somewhere! I write these tips mainly for myself not because I think I know everything… When I first got started, I was ignored by so many professionals who didn’t make time to help me with some questions I had. I’ve since found those answers and I share them with you here, just in case you are at a place where I once was and have some questions of your own.
Register Your Business & Open a Business Bank Account.
It was important for me to be legit, though, I would not feel comfortable charging anyone for a long time … Register your business name with the Secretary of State ($50). For Oregon: www.filinginoregon.com/business. For Washington: www.sos.wa.gov/corps. When you receive your official document, then you can open a business bank account and get a credit/debit card with your business name on it. It gives you pimp status. Trust me. haha!
Get a Legit Domain. Set Up a Nice Website. Start Blogging.
I’ve heard many times of newcomers who are waiting to start a blog or website. I’m not exactly sure what the wait is for, but there are many options out there to start a blog/website for free. When I first started my blog, I used Blogspot that was linked to my Gmail account. Yes, free. It did its job, helped me get my name out there— again, for free. But, don’t leave your blog static. UPDATE IT. POST OFTEN. SHARE YOUR WORK. SHARE YOUR LIFE. There are prospective clients out there!
Network & Share with Local Vendors.
Along with my blog, I used social networking to introduce my new business: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace. There are so many more networks out there, but I’m quite selective of which I use because of my target market. Hence, why I no longer use MySpace. It was not the right fit for me. I also participated in local events and organizations to meet other professionals who I got to work with even after the party. And if it wasn’t for meeting local photographers who were just like me: either starting out, 1-3 years already in business, or 5+ years successful, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have. Us women formed a fabulous group where we share everything we’ve learned; we teach and inspire each other. If you haven’t found one, maybe blog about starting one. They will come. (That’s how us girls got started.)
Get Good Business Cards.
There are so many marketing materials that I still need but, again, baby steps! However, the first thing you should get is a business card that will help get you into the right hands. Literally. Oh, if you’ve seen any of my earlier card designs, please don’t hold them against me. Yes, they were so bad! Hey, at least they weren’t templates or those really cheap paper materials that falls apart when it rains. My new cards are a-comin’ and I can’t wait to show them off! Like, BAM! Check out PremiumCards.net (there are many other sites, too); they are affordable and there are options for better quality above the cheap templates. I would suggest that you avoid those at all cost. Yes, pun intended.
Find Your Value— and charge!
Figure out what your base price is (what it costs you to do a photo shoot, including gas to and from shoot location plus any meeting with clients that require usage of your vehicle, electricity you use to start and finish processing images, cost of Internet usage to upload images to clients and corresponding emails, land line and/or cellular phone usage with clients, daycare fee for your children when you have to meet clients, etc.) … NOTE: Never step out of your home to work a photo shoot if you’re not getting a minimum of your base price. This is very important or else you’ll always go out of pocket. Add value for your time and talent, if you don’t then no one else will.