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How to start a photography business

If you are here you will most likely already know the type of photography business you want to setup or have planned to setup.  Most semi pro photographers will have been shooting for a hobby or will have just picked up a digital SLR and fell in love with the process.  You may have been shooting for a year or so and be still in full time employment and you are now on the cusp or jumping into your new passion profession and about to start your dream career.

This is a huge and scary decision, but if you are a true believer in what you do, your ability and art, then this is the time to leap!

This blog has been designed and written to help you make the right decisions in the setting up your photography business.  Whether you are a wedding, portrait, pet, commercial, sport photographer… this is a basic step by step guide in how to go about planning your business.  How to create a brand for your business, how to correctly market your business, and also improve and make connections within the industry.

First off we can look at your brand, you maybe thinking but I don’t have a brand?  Well you do, the brand is you!  Owning and running a photography business is a super personal service which you being the business owner and photographer are the sole representative and face.  When people find or hear about your services it will be you they will want to get to know and employ and work with, so you need to make these people feel comfortable, let them trust you and ultimately pay you for your good services.  If you are a wedding photographer for example, the couple that are booking you are trusting you to produce photography of a once in a life time scenario so it is extremely important to make them feel relaxed and give them the best service possible from the day they discover you.  First impressions are everything and this is where good well thought out branding can be so integral.

1. Think about who you are

Your clients are booking you, so think about who you are and why people like you.  Are you funny, serious, exciting, creative, adventurous?  Use this to envisage your dream client and who you want to attract moving forward, what type of people do you want to photograph, what venues or settings and how does your style of photography fit with that particular client.  You do not want to attract clients who want you to do posed couple shoots when all you want to produce is creative documentary photography.

2.  Get experience

Offer friends, family and friends of friends free or low cost photo shoots and treat it exactly how you would book a client.  Take them through the process from booking to delivery of the photos.  Then use the photos for your portfolio and share across social media.  Ask the clients for a short review of your services and ask them to suggest how you could improve.

3.  Brand your business

Branding for photography businesses does not need to cost the earth, you might be on a budget so you could possibly brand your own business or employ a branding company to do this for you.  If you are going to brand yourself, remember to think about the previous two points here and then ensure to reflect this in your branding, your branding should not necessarily be what you like but more what your dream client likes.  Write yourself a brand profile which list your values, ethos and describes your ideal client.

4.  Create your visual identity

Use the brand profile to choose colours, fonts and a logo that will represent you.   Keep it simple only selecting, 2 or 3 colours and a maximum 2 fonts.  Possibly use Etsy to find an affordable pre-made logo or use a branding company to design your brand elements.

5.  Get social with Facebook Business Page

You will now have your brand to represent you and a decent portfolio, so you are now ready to put your business online and start to professionally market yourself.  Setup a business Facebook page and invite friends and past clients to like your page and upload your logo, and some of your hero photos.   See if you can share a full photo shoot and write about the experience and ask the client to write a recommendation on Facebook.  They will most likely share the photoshoot anyway and this is a great way to attract new clients, so be ready 🙂

6.  Setup an Instagram account

After you have some momentum on Facebook, setup an Instagram account.  Remember Facebook is different to Instagram, think of Facebook as a place to engage with friends, family and to have conversations.  And think of Instagram as a place to make connections and attract new clients.  Instagram is set to be the biggest social media platform and is ideal for photographers to market themselves and grow your business.  Follow other photographers that you admire, see what they post and reach out to them for advice.  Make comments and engage honestly as much as you can.

7.  It’s time to setup a website

By now you should have a small following on social media, it’s time to think about a website.  Many people think they need a website as soon as they setup a business, you do but it’s important to get your social media sorted out first and gain some traction with that, remember you can put all your contact details on Facebook or Instagram and gain enquiries directly.  A simple website can be quite easy to setup and get online however you might be feeling very daunted with the amount of choices out there for this, do you use Wix, Squarespace, WordPress… what is a WordPress theme?!  This is a whole subject within itself, and why I have decided to write a full separate blog about this, which will look at all the options out there for photographer on a budget through to more established photography business owners.

Check back soon to learn about the pros and cons of the various website choices out there!

Big cheers for reading!

Adam

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