become a professional photographer
how do you know you’re ready?
Many of my workshop and consulting clients get in touch with me for tips on how to go about becoming a professional photographer. Many have a strong passion and a dream and most have a lot of talent.
I truly believe that it is possible to turn your passion into a career. I’ve done it! The key is to not just to be a good (or great) photographer; it’s to start a business that is profitable, sustainable and will give you joy. That is true success!
There are many books you can read and courses you can take and educating yourself is vital before you embark on the process of starting your own photography business.
To help you out, below is a list of some of the main things you should consider. These are based on my own experience and will give you some things to think about and do.
you know you’re ready when:
1. you know your camera!
You should have a thorough understanding of your camera (and it’s settings), lenses, lighting equipment, etc. Getting a great, sellable image is all about skill and experience, not luck. It’s also not about shooting 100 images off in rapid fire in the hope of getting one or two “keepers”.
2. you understand that it’s much more than knowing how to take great photos
You are actually only shooting a very small portion of the time. Especially when you start out (until you are earning enough to outsource some of these tasks), a much larger percentage of your time will be taken up by things like marketing, selling products and services, communicating with clients and potential clients, bookkeeping and balancing your budget, culling and editing images, fulfilling orders, writing blog posts, managing things like tax, insurance, legal obligations. And that list goes on…
3. you have a business plan
You know the answers to critical questions, such as: Who is your target client? What is your pricing strategy? Which products will you sell? What kind of services will you provide? How will you differentiate yourself from other photographers – what makes you unique? What does the customer experience look like and how can you generate repeat business and referrals.
And, I cannot stress this enough, you know what kind of photographer you are. You have defined your niche and know what you want to specialise in. It may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked.
“We Do Anything Photography specialising in weddings, families, maternity, music, events, sport, landscape, architecture, pets, maternity, newborns, food, corporate, commercial and anything else you ask us to do. Please, please, please call us…”
Being a specialist naturally attracts more clients without too much effort, because:
- your marketing message is clear and relevant and targeted
- you can get rid of a lot of the marketing guess work and your marketing dollar will go much further
- you can simplify and only focus on what’s important and what will make a difference
- you become known as an expert
- it can give you a definite point of difference
4. you have a marketing plan
It’s plain and simple: if people don’t know you exist, you won’t get any business. Before designing a logo and launching a website, make sure you’ve decided on your brand and how you will consistently represent yourself to the world. Then, once you have a website you need to know how you are going to drive traffic to it. No, it’s not a case of build it and they will come! Consider how you will use SEO, social media (which networks and how), joint ventures, email marketing, referral programs etc. You will also need to understand how to convert that traffic into real leads and then convert those leads into real clients.
5. you’ve built a portfolio that showcases your style
Once you begin to charge money for your photography, you must guarantee quality and consistency. A great portfolio of your best images will go a long way to demonstrating this to potential clients.
6. you have your documentation
You’ve registered your business, organised insurance, obtained the relevant business license, and have contracts/agreements ready for clients when they make a booking. You have also spoken with a lawyer and a tax accountant, and have opened a business bank account.
Starting and running a successful photography business takes a lot of work, money, time, and energy.
If you think you’re ready, make sure you make the necessary preparations before you start to give you a better chance of having a successful business that brings you both profit and joy!
If you’d like to know more about starting your photography business the smart way, head on over here to be notified about the launch of the new online coaching program: The Smart Photographer.