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Creating a Photography Business Plan
A guide to starting your own photography business
Putting together a photography business plan should be a careful and thorough process.
One of the great things about staring your own photography business is that you don't have to take big risks. You may start building towards it whilst still in other employment, taking the photos for friends' weddings etc.
As you begin to take on more photography work it can grow into your major source of income. Alternatively, you may be excited about beginning a career as a photographer and keen to plan how to earn a good income through it as soon as possible.
Either way, photography is a really fun way to make money! But you do need to plan well. So I want to help you get things moving by offering some tips and ideas for staring your own photography business.
Supplement your photography business plan with this:
I use SBI! to earn good income from home. Do Contact me if you'd like to pick my brains about it!
The idea of this article is to:
- Help you begin structuring your thoughts and planning a viable business.
- Spark ideas. This is not an outline for a full photography business plan. It is meant to make you think "Oh, yeah! That gives me some ideas..."
So here is my quick guide to forming a solid photography business plan:
1. Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
- What kinds of photos are you best at taking, or do you enjoy taking the most? Which photographic skills do you feel you have mastered best?
- Are you comfortable working with people? If wedding photography is on your list of options then it's important you enjoy working with people.
Not only will you have to organize groups of people for photos at the wedding, but you'll need to plan things thoroughly with the couple.
- Any good with animals!? Pet photography is really popular and many people make good money through it. Have you owned lots of pets? Do you like animals?
- Do you have any experience with online marketing or website building? All photographers should have a website.
It's by no means necessary to be able to build it yourself, but if you are on familiar ground here this could be a crucial part of your photography business plan and promotional activity.
Here are my guides to photography website templates from Wix and photography website templates from Squarespace.
- Do you know many people in your local area? Just moved in? Been there for years? Write up a list of contacts who could be of any potential value to you.
- Are you plugged into a community of photographers in your area? How are you at networking?
2. Assess Your Market
- It's important to get a sense of what demand there is in your area when starting your own photography business.
What kind of place do you live? Is it urban or rural? Fashionable or traditional? Is it popular with young, arty types? Perhaps there are lots of young families, or retirees, or whatever!
What are their needs and what is there most demand for?
- Can you match the demand in your area with your skills? Lots of young families wanting group studio portraits? How much studio work have you done? Can you afford to rent a studio for shoots?
Are you good at being professional: arriving punctually, meeting deadlines, being friendly and helpful? You might be suited for wedding and studio photography.
Or are you a total perfectionist who has to do everything on their own terms!? Perhaps selling fine art prints, attending art fairs, putting on exhibitions and providing photos for card companies would be more your kind of things.
I have discovered photography. Now I can kill myself. I have nothing else to learn.
- Pablo Picasso
3. Establish Your Unique/Style Brand
- It's important that people 'get' what kind of photographer you are when they look at your portfolio. What is your angle, your visual style, your approach to photography?
Having a sense of your own style is really important when building a strong photography business plan. It helps to mark you out from competition and gives you something to work with when promoting yourself.
You don't have to set the world alight! Just don't be afraid to stick to the way you like your photos to be. If you love creating photos, then this might be something that comes quite naturally.
- Write a good 'artist's statement' that crystallises your style of work and approach to photography in concise, written form.
Be honest and don't try to impress the person reading it. Just make an effort to articulate what motivates your work and what you hope to achieve with it.
People don't like high-falutin language because it tends to be a way of avoiding saying anything that's relevant or interesting.
4. Promote and Advertize
- A key part of any photography business plan these days is to set up a website. If you're allergic to I.T. and computers - bite the bullet!
I was an online ignoramus a short while ago. But this awesome system gave me all the tools to set up a flourishing business website - cheaply.
- When people need a local service one of their first ports of call is always the web. Make use of this fact.
I want to help photographers be better at getting business through their websites. If you're struggling to capitalize on the potential of the internet, get in touch with me and I'll try to help you out.
Being the number 1 listing on a Google search results page for a certain type of photography in your local area will be a big boost to your business. A really big boost! Here are 12 basic tips on how to increase web traffic.
A website should feature galleries of your work for prospective clients to view, in addition to lots of other content and a good 'About' section.
- Formulate a snappy summary of what your business offers. When starting your own photography business there will be numerous occasions when you need to quickly and succinctly explain what you do.
It really helps to have a clear idea of what to say/write in your mind. Perhaps you'll bump into someone who could be a useful contact for providing clients. You don't want to splutter out some lame, half-baked explanation of your business! Make it professional and clear.
- Do everything in your power to encourage word of mouth growth. This is still the most powerful form of promotion for any business.
It's hard to factor it into a photography business plan with much detail. Basically, tell everyone you know about your services and encourage them to tell everyone they know.
As you do work that clients are pleased with, the word of mouth snowball will really start to grow.
- Place client testimonials on your website. Recommendations and positive feedback from clients are very powerful.
- Network with other local photographers, who you are not in direct competition with, and refer work to each other. Help each other out and growth each others' businesses.
- Get some high quality business cards printed. You're a photographer - make them visually interesting and cool! Use your own photos on the designs. Nothing dull and cliched.
Here's how and where to make business cards online.
- Put on exhibitions of your work. This can be in restaurants cafes or, of course, galleries. Invite loads of people to attend with nice quality printed invitations. Let local media know about it and encourage them to review the exhibition.
Sell your prints in addition to greetings cards versions of the images to the viewers.
|Advice, tips and news for pro, and aspiring pro, photographers...|
5. Looking After Finances
- Do not allow your clients to delay on their payments. Have a simple written agreement that stipulates a time period in which they must pay for your work. Protect yourself.
- Carefully plan your costs. Know your outgoings. In a photography business plan this could be things like: Equipment, travel expenses, post-processing software, presentational stationery e.g. wedding photo portfolios, business cards, website costs, studio rental/ownership/maintenance etc.
- Calculate how much you need to charge to make a good profit, based on your outgoings. The amount of demand in your area - which depends on the level of competition - also determines your pricing.
- If you are going to be self-employed you must register as such to avoid incurring a fine.
- Being self-employed is cool. You work for yourself and your success is wholly down to your own passion and determination! But it has important tax and legal implications.
The difference between an individual who is self-employed and the owner of a limited company (meaning limited liability, 'Ltd.' after the company name) is that the latter is considered as 2 separate legal entities.
In other words if a limited company goes bust, it is only financially accountable to the extent that it can afford to meet its payments. If a self-employed person's business gets into trouble, then it's not just the money on their books that is owed, but their entire personal capital in any form (house, car etc.)
All the more reason to create a very thorough photography business plan and to budget carefully!
- You could consider setting up a 'Partnership', in the same way, for example, law firms often do. This is just a business with more than one owner.
It has some good benefits: shared liability if you run into trouble, greater capital to call on when investment is needed, the opportunity to thrash out ideas between you, faster growth.
It's pretty rare for photographers to set up a partnership. There's no great need to. Working for yourself is exciting, fun, great for motivation and you get to keep all the profits!
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So that's it, a few key areas to look at when creating a photography business plan!
One last point I would add is that it is well worth diversifying your income streams as a photographer. You might have one major source of business - but do other things too! Sell stock photography, sell prints through your website (photography website templates), attend art fairs and sell work there, put on exhibitions as both promotional and business opportunities.
Starting your own photography business should be a fun and profitable adventure. Plan carefully, be nice to people (!), network, enjoy taking pictures, be smart about matching your services to your local market, spread word of mouth and you'll do brilliantly!
Photography Art Cafe has quite a lot of other information you may be interested in. There is advice on how to sell photos online and how to sell photos offline. I have also written this article, which provides advice for an online photography business plan.
Again, I'm really keen help people out with advice for the online part of their photography business plan.
This systesm, Site Build It!, has enabled me to earn excellent income through Photography Art Cafe, from home! Contact me to pick my brains.
Have Your Say and Share Your Photos
We want to hear your stories, experiences and ideas! How have you constructed a photography business plan?
Where Next?Photography Website Templates - Wix