A camera opens up a plethora of possibilities for anyone. It records special moments, documents historical events, enhances vacations and presents business opportunities to become a source of income. The big question is “how do you make money with photography”?
So many photographers dive head first into photography and can come away with incredible images but don’t have a vision. With today’s digital cameras your experience through practice and education can transform your hobby into a profession.
Here are some tips from a professional photographer who specializes in Adventure Travel Storytelling, Gregg Jaden Instagram @greggjaden_. His goal when he started out was to travel the world and snap some timeless visuals while telling meaningful stories.
Here are 7 Essential Tips to Becoming a Viable Photography Business
Find Your Niche
Like any successful business, it is usually created from raw passion. Usually that passion fuels a desire to create something you love. A niche is a great place to start. It helps you focus on what you are good at while you learn to improve what you aren’t so good at. Digital mirrorless cameras are so small, convenient and robust ultimately simplified for beginners. They allow users to shoot auto or manually refining your photography skills. When you shoot a niche you tend to become an “expert” in that niche. For example if you shoot food, once you master succulent, delicious style photos you can approach local restaurants as a starting point. Local businesses are usually a great place to start. You will need to take lots and lots of photos, learn editing (only keeping the best ones) and create a portfolio before you approach anyone.
Even though Jaden chose landscape travel and adventure as his career path the applied the basics to his craft.“When learning and developing your skills in photography, it’s best to practice as much as you can. I found my landscape images were fun to shoot but other people actually liked them. This was the moment I transformed my passion into a business. I started putting together projects to pitch to Brands so I could enhance their marketing while delivering assets to them. I managed to convince some Brands early on to come along on my journey. Fortunately we still have an incredible business relationship today. I’m all about relationships” says Jaden.
Have a Mission and a Model
Is you are serious about becoming a business you will need a well-defined mission and a model. What this means is be clear on your mission. What is your Business? Who are your target clients? What image do you want to convey? What exactly are your services? What level of service do you deliver? What businesses relationships do you want to maintain with clients? How will you improve the lives of clients with your technology and services? What was the driving philosophy that made you become a company? These are all important to answer before writing your mission statement.
Following a model of other successful businesses can help when you start but then adapt that into your own model. Your own brand. “As a photographer you always have to think of yourself as a business not an individual. There will be many times you will need to team up with other’s to deliver on projects. Many larger brands are hiring you based on you being a pro but also solving existing problems and offering multiple services that only a team can provide. You will also want to set monthly and quarterly targets that will help you keep that cashflow coming in consistently to stay alive.” Says Jaden.
This simple understanding of business basics will go a long way. It could be the difference between being a starving photographer vs a viable growing business. Skills you will want to learn also are structured cold calling, business meeting strategies, social media as well as business style communication. “A long time ago, I realized that 98% of business problems come from a breakdown in communication. This either comes from topics being lost in translation or misunderstanding with deliverables. Always have the initiative to keep yourself open to conversations with clients and never keep them in the dark. Avoidance with clients is the quickest way to kill any business relationship” Says Jaden.
Have a Game Plan
The hardest part of becoming a business is where to start. A good example is, what is your daily, weekly and monthly goals? How do you organize yourself during a day? What are the best times to call on businesses? Basically this is what to work on and when. This is vital for any small startup to be efficient and grow. One of the hardest challenges for any new business is productivity. “A game plan will save you from spinning your wheels. Like any successful business there is a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly plan. Some days you will feel like you have no idea what you are doing. When this happens always go back to who your game plan” says Jaden.
Network And Be Genuine
“Networking is critical for your success. When I mention networking at my speaking events I always emphasize be genuine. The worst thing anyone can do is attempt to sell during networking. Unless someone asks you for a pitch do not give one. Get to know people as people and business colleagues. Learn more about them so if you ever do pitch to them down the road you will already understand them more than any competitor” says Jaden.
Every professional wants to stand and make a dent in the market. Your best strategy for photographer turned business pro is to take photos that Brands will appreciate and relate these to their product or service. Your portfolio should speak volumes about your talent but also convey you can do way more than what your portfolio says.
Learn Your Value
Before you charge clients find out what the rates are for the type of work you want to deliver. Factor in gear, lighting, equipment and your time. Many times new photographers give their services away to get a deal for almost free. It is ok to start out like this but you cannot do it that long before going out of business. Charge for time to shoot, editing time, factor in a small percentage for equipment or any rental costs need to be passed along to the client.
It is smart to have multiple streams of income while you are working towards that big Brand deal. Some streams you can pursue are selling our photos online, stock footage, partner up with others companies like video companies to offer your skills as a photographer. Once you become very good and can offer value to others, designing a course you feel the industry needs.
It’s is important to approach your business as a professional company that has been around a while. Be who you are as a Brand. Be solid with your website message. Be professional when approaching, dealing and delivering to clients. Always communicate like a pro, explain the process to clients so they understand and listen client needs before recommending anything. Remember if you think of yourself as a photographer you will always be a photographer, if you think of yourself as a photography business there is no limit to how much you can grow.
by Stephanie Jones
Company – BWAᐧ