How to Start and Run a Photography Business

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Putting a Plan Together

When taking photography from a hobby to a business, the first step you should take (and it’s the first step for any home business) is to create a business plan. In creating your business plan. you should narrow down your niche. What will be your specialty area for photography? Will you do wedding portrait photography? Will you do landscape photography? Will you photograph children? Determine who your target audience will be. Will you be doing commercial or stock photography? What are your business goals? How much money will you need to charge? Who are your competitors? How will you market your business? You should have answers to all these questions - and to questions like:

  • What will your business structure be?
  • What if you go a few months with no clients?
  • How much money do you need to make to cover all your expenses, both personal and business-related?
  • What will your hours of operation be like?
  • What are the laws for running a home based business in your city? county? state?
  • Will you have a separate business account?
  • What are your startup costs?
  • What professional organizations should you belong to?

Once you have a solid business plan put together, you can move to the next steps: Procuring your materials and marketing your business.

Procuring Your Startup Materials

Presumably, you will have a good quality DSLR, a few different lenses, and a flash. If you don’t have one, you may want to check out some of the reviews and buying guides for digital cameras here on Bright Hub. Once you have a camera, you will want the following equipment:

  • A computer powerful enough to run any desktop publishing software and with enough hard drive memory to store project photos
  • Photoshop or an equivalent software
  • A website featuring your portfolio and contact details
  • Studio space - even if you are operating from home, you will want to have an area dedicated to taking portrait photographs
  • A tripod

In addition to the above materials, you will also want certain skills. If you do not already have basic computer photo editing skills, you will want to take a class at a local adult school or community college. You also will want to build skills in website development, accounting, and computer literacy. You will be using these skills a lot in addition to your talents as a photographer.

Marketing Your Photography Business

Marketing your photography business is as important as being a talented photographer - if no one knows who you are, it won’t matter if your skills rival those of Ansel Adams. Here are some ways to promote your talents as a photographer:

  1. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media websites to network with those interested in photography and with other photographers.
  2. Join a networking group and go to your local Chamber of Commerce mixers.
  3. Build a website and keep a blog on the website featuring one or two recent photographs.
  4. Advertise in your local yellow pages, newspaper, magazines, and any relevant industry magazines (i.e. if you are a wedding photographer, you will want to advertise in everything wedding-related.)
  5. Spread the word around that you are working as a photographer. Don’t keep this information to yourself!
  6. Post fliers, business cards, and brochures anywhere local businesses will allow.
  7. Take any opportunities when reading blogs to promote yourself.
  8. Write a press release (or have a writer do this for you) and send it to the media.
  9. Get your photographs placed in galleries.
  10. Participate in arts and crafts festivals, your local farmers market (they sometimes feature local artists!) and other such venues.

Business…Means Business…

Finally, if you don’t take yourself seriously as a business, no one else will. Always conduct yourself in a business-like demeanor, show up, and produce high-quality work. Practice a time management strategy that works for you. Seek to continue mastering photography and business skills, and constantly market your work. In no time, you will be on the pathway to a consistent photography business income.