I have been a Digital Photography School writer for the past three years and I have to say, I absolutely love writing and sharing my photography experiences and knowledge. Every time one of my articles get published, my Facebook page and my website get a lot of visitors. I know this is because I use google analytics for my website which tracks visitors on any given day and shows where they spend most of their time (I highly recommend using Google Analytics for your website). I also get a ton of questions on my Facebook business page and the recurring theme of the questions is always something like this, “I love photography, but can you advise me on how to start my photography business and make money from it?”
So I decided to address that burning question in the hopes that it resonates with so many other photographers, who are thinking the same thing and are perhaps a little nervous to write in for the fear of showing their vulnerability. If you are, please don’t be, because everyone, including me, started somewhere and we all had similar thoughts.
#1 – Just Start
If you are thinking about starting a photography business to such a large extent that you cannot think about doing anything else, then just start. Go ahead and take that first step towards making your passion your career. Remember that “done” is so much better than “perfect”.
We, photographers, are always learning new things every day, be it in business, technology or photography skills. If you wait to be a perfect photographer, you will be waiting a long time. Now, I am not saying that you should not invest time and effort in understanding and practice. Skill is very important. But if you are considering learning the craft and the art of photography, then there is no better time than now!
# 2 – Use Social Media
Social media has exploded over the past few years in terms of the number of people who are using it for business, no matter what business they are in. Because so much of social media is both visual and text, photographers and writers have a slight advantage in terms of creating and sharing quality content.
So as a photographer, it behooves you to take advantage of the channel at your disposal. But be aware that the whole point of social media is to be social online, showcase your work, show who you are as a photographer and a person. Network, connect and interact online. It is one of the relatively inexpensive ways to make yourself know and recognized.
# 3 – Practice, Learn and Practice Some More
Photography is an art form with many different nuances. Each aspect of photography has many different interpretations and to really excel in photography, you have to know and understand the basics.
Light, color, composition, emotion, and movement are all critical aspects of a good photograph. You have to learn them, practice them, and then put your own spin on them to make your own photographs go from good to great. There is no time limit for learning photography. The only way you can get better is to keep at it and photograph every chance you can get.
I carry my camera everywhere I go. I have been doing this for so long that it’s second nature now and I don’t think twice about it. Sometimes I will only shoot ten to twelve frames and sometimes I will shoot several hundred. But what I tell myself every time I bring the camera to my face is that this time I have to try something different and create something I have not created before.
#4 – Market Your Work
Marketing is crucial to any business but so few of us really put much into it. Most of us have the mindset that if you produce quality work, then your photography will speak for itself and clients will line up outside your studio for all eternity.
But sadly, that is far from the truth. Like any good product or service, we have to take the time and the effort to educate our clients and our potential clients on why working with us is a great idea. The more you think about promoting your work on a daily basis, the more effort and heart you will put into your marketing. And remember, marketing takes a lot of time. Very rarely does a marketing effort pay off immediately.
#5 – Use Your Network
Unless you live in a personal bubble, you have a network. Networks can be social (i.e. friends and family), professional (peers or work colleagues), or industry related (other businesses that support photography).
So I challenge you to do a network analysis (sorry, I am a computer science major from my previous life so I love all this technical jargon!) and figure out who are all the people that you can reach out to and tap into for work. They might not be your direct clients but they may know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who is looking for a photographer. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing.
#6 – Hustle
You have probably heard this adage before – there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are no shortcuts to anything in life, so what makes you think that there are shortcuts to photography?
Photography, like any other profession, is extremely competitive with a relatively low barrier to entry. This means you have to hustle that much harder and longer to make an impression and to have an impact on your business bottom line. If you are starting out, try many genres of photography.
If you are starting out, try many genres of photography. Use any opportunity you can to improve your skills. Make friends with others in the industry and share experiences. Give it your all and eventually, you will reap the benefits.
#7 – Share
Share your work, your knowledge, and your expertise. The more open and willing you are to share among your peers, your competitors, and your clients, the more satisfying the journey to photography business success will be.
People, especially clients, will understand that you are genuine in building professional and personal relationships and the next time they hear of any photography work, they will connect with you. Photography friends and peers will refer clients if they are booked, help you when you are in a pinch, and work with you on creative projects – all of which as so important for your personal growth and growth of your business.
If you have other tips on growing a photography business, feel free to share with the larger dPS community in the comments below. Remember it’s not what you know, but how good you are building a community.