So you think you are ready to venture out on your own as a photographer? Let's see if you have thought about the start up in the right light. No pun intended.
Here is a list of things that you should have in order before you even consider starting your own photography business. Make sure to read all of this before you get that license. Trust me even your name selection will be vital to your success. I will list them first then discuss each one.
- A social media presence is a must!
- Do you understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
- How good is your photography?
- How resourceful are you?
- How wise are you when it comes to dealing with the massive flood of soliciting phone calls and scams you will receive.
This is all I will cover in this post. Let's break these down to see if your ready for these aspects of creating a thriving business.
Social Media Presence
Your social media presence will determine your success in one very important way, Traffic! Yes traffic online can make or break you. You might be one of the best photographers, but if you want your images to sell and your phone to ring off the hook you need people to see who you are. Start a Facebook page if you haven't already. Grow your followers. You can always change the name of the page and keep your followers later when you open your business. Just keep the content the same.
SEO is not as scary as it sounds. There are tons of tools out there to give you keyword statistics. This information is very powerful. Your marketing of your business will rely on this. The traffic to your website will also depend on this. I made a mistake with this one when I choose my business name. I didn't even think about having this problem since my first website I built made it to the top three in searches without paying anyone for any help. If I had to do it again I wish someone had told me about this before I got my license.
I have met a lot of people that take cool looking images. I was surprised to learn how few people ever put their images to print, or even the ones that did had some embarrassing prints. It sounds mean, but I am being blunt and honest. This is business here. People will completely walk away from you over one bad call overnight. This is one thing that I did right. I got to a point where I thought my images were pretty cool. Social media, friends, and co-workers all liked my work seeing it on my phone or IPad. Being a stickler for perfection I tried stock agencies first. Their pay is horrible. Use their rejections to research subtle technical issues on a screen. You might learn a few things. You will get to a point where almost all of your images are always excepted. This isn't enough you need to target sales next. What this is training you for is to key in on things that will grab certain emotions or reactions from the viewers. When you start to understand that aspect of photography, you will be ready technically as a photographer.
How resourceful are you?
We will all have those moments when you feel like you want to panic. You left a key piece of equipment at home for a shoot. You might just be unprepared for an event. You need to be comfortable enough that you take the reigns and make that shoot happen. A photographer has to be able to say this is what I have how can I make this work. The entire time don't forget to smile and show your confidence. Carry spare items in your trunk for these types of emergencies. You can do a lot with para cord, duct tape, and a couple of sheets. You might have to reorganize bookings to keep everything on track if you have an emergency. Keep calm and shoot on.
Do you expect to be contacted by everyone around the world offering you outrageous stuff that they say you have to have to stand out for your business. I had one company call me to list my business on a search engine. They wanted $5,000.00 to list my business on said search engine. Oh were they mad when I said no thank you I am listing it myself. They told me you can't do that you have to pay someone. Really cause this fine print here tells me I can. This next page still tells me I need to pay someone. Oh look there is another very small and fine print link here to register for free. I still get calls that I can't understand. Telling me that I need a website. I can't survive without one. I tell them I have one. They say I don't. I tell them to remove me from their list. This is what you need to expect when you open your own business. There is one more example under this section.
Fraud is everywhere online and in person. I have decided not to except checks for that very reason. I have been contacted for huge jobs. It's a great feeling to get a months work in one day of shooting. Then they want you to do them a favor. Can you take a check keep your fee and forward the rest to the event planner? Don't do it. You are not opening a business to launder money. Don't be liable for some scammer trying to stick you with a bill for the $7,000 dollar check they want to write you and your fee is only $3,000. This is the kind of thing you need to be ready to spot immediately. If something doesn't sound right. It probably isn't. Weather they claim disability or have some horrible event happen. If you don't know them in person why would you want to risk having your account wiped out by someone you don't know. Run your business smart. There are much better gambles out there than anything that sounds like a potential scam.
Well this post went a little to long. Feel free to follow me @jrfinephotography on Instagram or Facebook. Subscribe to the blog to see updates as they come. I will be looking to do a lot on this topic. I think their are to many people that want to try to sell you this information. I think this might help someone figure out if they are ready to make that jump. I would love to hear questions or comments about this topic.