10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING A PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
Here we go! Ten things that I wish I would have known before starting a business. I often reflect on what I once thought photography to be. What more can there be than using a fancy camera and scheduling shoots with the people around you? So much more. For this week's post, I thought about what I would tell myself three or four years ago, before getting serious with my work, and decided to form this list. This one's for other photographers out there who dream of doing the same thing:
1. You won't just be a photographer anymore.
This may be obvious for some, but it's so much more complex than it seems. Starting a photography business is something many may dream of, but it's not all rainbows and butterflies! Only 10-20% of your time is actually spent actually taking photos. Instead of spending all of your time shooting, you'll spend your time marketing your business, managing your social media, you'll work to become an expert in branding, be your own web developer, CEO, and a book keeper if you don't have a software or CRM. You are your company. Think about it, there are so many parts to a business-- you have the management team, the employees, the marketing team... and you're doing that all on your own!
2. It takes time.
It takes so much time to build a business, to develop clientele, and to establish that trust and those relationships with others. It may seem frustrating in the beginning when you're so motivated and ready to work, but you have to be patient. In the meantime, you should be consistent in sharing your work, should stay up to date with other photographers, and constantly build your portfolio. Practice practice practice!
3. You should form relationships with other photographers.
This one isn't only fun, but I'm going to stress how HELPFUL this is! There are so many photographers who refuse to take this advice, they look at other photographers as their competition. Don't do that. One of my favorite quotes that I came across, i'm just gonna leave this here:
"CONFIDENCE HAS NO COMPETITION."
Forming friendships with other photographers is amazing. It's so much fun to talk gear, is useful in seeking out advice, and sometimes you even get to shoot together! Who wouldn't want another fellow photographer to hang out with? I say go for it! Make lifelong friendships. You won't regret this one.
4. Money: SAVE SAVE SAVE!
Save your money! I can't stress this enough! You should be doing this anyways on your own, but I'm talking about the money that you make from business specifically. When a client pays you, put 30% of your income into business savings. Set that money aside for advertising or marketing-- things like business cards, paying for your website, your domain, software subscriptions, and of course the dreaded taxes when that time comes.
5. Educate yourself on the legal aspects of your business.
Starting a business is difficult to begin with, but even more daunting when you don't know what the heck you're doing. Do you set it up as an LLC? Sole Proprietorship? Go through an accountant or do it online? Get a lawyer to review your contract? Do you know what you can mark as business expenses? There is a lootttt to think about! Don't know where to start? Click here for the link to a great resource!
6. Stay Organized.
Okay this one also may seem a bit obvious, but when I say stay organized, I mean start your business in an organized way in the beginning, and continue to stick to that. I recommend you track your numbers-- if you don't have a software to do this for you, make an excel sheet to track your business expenses. Track your monthly income from shoots. Sort your photos by dated folders, and in those folders have subfolders with the RAW and edited files. Keep all your paperwork in one place! The list goes on... you get the point.
7. Have a professional website and portfolio.
Keep building your website and never ever stop. Think of your website as a never ending project! You should always be working to make it better. Ever heard of the compound effect?
“The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices.”
Everything that you are doing now, all of the work that you're slowly putting into building your business (EVEN reading this blog post!), it's going to pay off!
8. Back up your photos.
It's so easy to lose your files based on their file names, or where you store them. Don't back them up to just one hard drive, but have two. Use online storage too. I'm going to be honest in saying that I lost my photos once, and it was utter heartbreak! Seriously, nothing hurt more. (I was lucky enough to recover everything after hours of research and help from some tech savy friends... lesson learned!) So do it! Back up your photos! Stay on top of it! You can do it, and you won't regret it.
9. Never stop learning - You won't even want to stop!
This one may just be me personally, but I've found that I never want to stop learning more about the field. It's addicting, I swear. You want to be on top of it and you'll find yourself buying books, doing research, watching videos, even investing in educational courses! Don't ever stop learning, it's how you grow as a person, and how you grow your business! It's how you find more work, how you form more relationships, and have more fun! You can do this by joining photography based facebook groups, asking your photographer friends questions, and even nestling up with a good business book.
10. You get to do what you love every day.
As a photographer and business owner, you get to do what you love every single day! I know it seems like a lot of work, but you'll enjoy what you do. Marketing is fun, developing your website is fun, and so is the learning that you do. Every interaction, every new lead is so insanely exciting because of the story and experience. Each shoot comes with a new adventure-- whether it's hiding in a cornfield to photograph an engagement or running around in forest park while jamming to some good music for a commercial shoot! There's nothing better than being able to take pride in the work that you do, or the impact that you can make.
Thanks for the read! :)