Hey all, Tamara here. Every now and then I love to bring in a guest poster – to write about wonderful things photography. It’s near and dear to me, and I’m a few years into the business, but still loving to learn tips, tricks and wisdom from others.
“So this photography thing is just a hobby right?” As a professional photographer, you’ve probably been asked this before by friends or strangers. Many people have this misconception that your business is merely a diversion or a hobby. When in reality you are providing a service and a product, no different than a retail store or a restaurant. Just like with any business, the essential factor in its success is preparing an effective business plan. Not only will it help keep your financial expectations in line, but also gives your direction to your business. Here are the necessary steps to building your own:
1) Set your business goals and objectives
First things first, clearly define your ultimate goal: Is it to be a full-time photographer? Or are you just aiming to make extra income on the side? Once that’s been decided, you’ll need to set future benchmarks or checkpoints as well. They’ll act as indicators that you’re progressing and actively achieving your goal. For example, your first quarter benchmark can be to book 10 photo sessions or to earn 25% of your yearly revenue target. Most importantly, both your fundamental objective and your benchmarks need to be achievable and measurable.
2) Define your business’ identity
Now it’s time to get started on fleshing out what your business and your focus is. One method is to play to your strengths and interests. For example, if your interests are travelling and participating in outdoor activities, you can specialize in travel and destination wedding photography. Rather than working in an indoor studio shooting portraits. Be careful of pigeonholing yourself and creating too specific of a niche. It’s good to have some range and variety, as it’ll give you opportunities to grow and expand your business later on.
3) Competitor and audience study
It is essential to know your competitors and your market, as it’ll further aid in tailoring your business identity. While researching and studying your competition ask yourself the following questions:
• Are you offering similar services?
• How does your pricing compare to theirs?
• How can you set yourself apart from them?
Afterwards you may find that you need to do more to differentiate yourself. Such as broadening your area of coverage or taking on clients located hours away or even out of state. Next, by identifying your market or target audience it’ll help later in targeting your marketing campaigns.
4) Crunch the numbers
Yes, you’ll have to do some math, so put on your thinking cap. First, you’ll need to determine your target profit margin, again be realistic about your projection. Next, outline your assets and reoccurring expenses as they will affect your bottom line. Then define and adjust the pricing of your services, such as session rates and print package values. Make sure that they are competitive and substantial enough to achieve your revenue goal. Depending on your needs, business budgeting tools such as TrueSky can help greatly with organizing and monitoring your financials. By being apprised of your fiscal standing, you can easily determine whether or not you are meeting the benchmarks and goals you initially set.
5) Layout a marketing plan
Marketing for your photography business extends far beyond having a website and relying on client referrals. Promote yourself on social media platforms, namely Instagram and Pinterest as they’re image based networks and free to use. In addition, maintaining a blog integrated with your website, and a digital picture frame in your studio that syncs with your social media accounts, shows potential clients examples of your work and that you’re consistently active.
Eugenia Lin avidly enjoys writing about a variety of topics and currently writes for the digital photo experts at Nixplay. When not writing, she can be found spoiling her pet, Yeti, with treats or trying to be active outside on those typical Seattle rainy days. You can find her at LinkedIn.