Starting your own photography business is a great way to make money from your passion. Here’s how to start a photography business in 12 simple steps.
Even if photography is one of your biggest passions, you’re still going to experience challenges as a business owner. The work won’t always be as easy as you think, and there’s no guarantee that it will be steady, either.
But, it will be worth it. If you know this is what you want to do, go for it and don’t look back.
Here are the 12 steps you need to follow in order to figure out how to start a photography business.
1. Choose a Niche
Keep in mind that there are many different forms of photography. It’s better to specialize in one or two niches than to try to be a jack of all trades. This will help you create authority in your market, not to mention, better identify who your market is.
A few niches in the photography business include:
- wedding photography
- headshot and professional photography
- product photography
- special events photography
- fashion and fine art photography
- landscape photography
- travel photography
These aren’t the only kinds of photography for you to specialize in. You may find something even more specific than the items on this list, or you may already know exactly what your calling is in this business.
Either way, you have to figure this out before you take on any other aspect of starting a photography business.
2. Research Your Market
Establishing a niche sets the foundation for everything else you do with your photography business. It determines the kinds of clients you get and the hours you work and even the rates you can set as your business starts to take off.
It also gives you a sense of direction when doing your market research. This is another crucial aspect of your business. You need to have a good understanding of the other photographers you’re competing against in the local area and who your target market is.
Research helps you develop a customer persona and it gives you guidance when setting competitive, yet reasonable prices.
3. Identify Your Products and Prices
The next thing to do when starting your photography business is to establish a clear set of products and prices.
Think about it, how many edited photos do you plan to offer per session? Are you willing to offer clients access to all of their photos or would you like them to pay per additional edit?
Consider whether you’ll charge for your time or for the shoot, the edits, and an album of photos as a bundle. All of these factors will play into how much profit you’ll end up earning for your efforts.
4. Start Working on Your Brand
Once you’ve gotten all the product details out of the way, start thinking about your brand. Come up with a name for your photography business, choose your brand colors, and create a logo. You can design a logo on your own or hire a graphic designer to do it for you.
But, these aren’t the only major aspects of your brand. Other branding details include your company values and your mission statement. These will help you connect with your audience and they’ll be good things to fall back on when you need motivation or a sense of direction in your business.
5. Set Up a Website
Having a clear brand makes setting up your website a breeze. It gives you a color palette to work with, helps you choose the kind of typeface you’d like to have, and even guides the navigation process as you’re creating your sitemap.
If you’re not sure what a sitemap is or you don’t know the first thing about web design, don’t worry. There are plenty of places where you can buy and create your domain with ease – like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.
6. Get All Your Business Paperwork in Order
The cool thing about setting up a website for your new business is that you may end up realizing you like graphic design and web development almost as much as you like photography. These skills go hand in hand and they can make your new business even more profitable than it already has the potential to be.
Filing taxes and formally establishing yourself as a business, on the other hand, isn’t as fun. But of course, it also has to be done.
This is one of the steps you need to be the most careful with. You need to make sure you’ve filed all the proper paperwork before you start to book and bill clients.
More so, you should start preparing for tax season as soon as you open your business. This will set you up to best keep track of all your expenses and deductibles, and to make sure that everything is filed as it should be.
7. Buy New Equipment
Speaking of expenses and deductibles, make sure you keep all of the receipts when buying new equipment. You can’t expect one camera and a few lenses to be enough for your photography business. You need to invest in at least one backup camera and a handful of various lenses.
It’s a good idea to purchase lighting equipment, tripods, and maybe even a drone depending on the kind of photography work you plan to do. Extra batteries and the right camera bags/protective equipment are necessary purchases, too.
8. Purchase Editing Software
Just when you think you’ve spent enough on registering your business and buying new equipment, don’t forget you also need to buy editing software.
Your best bet is to buy more than one. Take your time to research what the best programs are and how much value you really get out of them. Then, purchase two to three to start and learn how to use them. Keep an eye out for any additional presets or editing systems that may be worth buying in the future, too.
9. Create a Workspace
You can’t do much with your brand-new editing software if you don’t have a designated place to work. No, your favorite spot on the couch or your kitchen counter won’t do. While these are nice for when you have a little bit of work to do, you need a place where you can get your mind into work mode every single day.
That space may be a room at home that you turn into an office, a co-working space, or a private office space that you decide to rent. Whatever it is, you have to create your space and make it exactly what you want before you start getting clients.
Keep in mind that if you’re trying to do photography sessions in your studio – like for headshots or family pictures – you need to make room for that, too. You’ll also need to invest in backdrops and special lighting, and maybe create a seating area for your clients.
10. Establish a Routine
At this point, you’re pretty much ready to open for business. You won’t have a calendar full of photography sessions right away. But, you will need to spend your time wisely if you want your business to succeed.
Create a schedule for yourself to follow every day. Think of what you need to do to take care of yourself and to support your business. Make time for self-care activities like exercise and eating right, but make sure you get everything that you need to do done.
Your routine will help you focus and start building more leads. It will also keep you focused on your goals as you’re going through the ebbs and flows of starting your own business.
11. Connect with Other Photographers
Keep in mind that you don’t have to figure everything out entirely on your own. It’s worth using some of your time to reach out to other photographers and learn from them.
Ask them what their struggles were when they were starting out. Find out what they did to improve their skills and get more clients. Learn from their mistakes and be a friend to them — and remember, don’t get too competitive or try to steal other people’s ideas.
12. Start Booking Clients
This is a lot of photographers’ favorite part about starting their business. It’s amazing what happens when you put so much work into something and the fruits of your labor start to show.
Before you know it, you’ll be shooting sessions back to back and having to make people work around your schedule. Your days will be filled with taking photos and doing edits and collaborating with clients to create the best vision possible.
It’s a wonderful process, constantly filled with challenges and surprises. It’s all possible if you take the leap to start the business you’ve been dreaming of.
How to Start a Photography Business on the Right Foot
Of all the steps on this list, there are some you need to put more effort into than others. Branding, for example, is a task you have to get perfectly right if you want your business to get started on the right foot.
This is the first thing people will notice about you. Its how they get to know who you are and what you do and it’s what perks their interest to hire you. As such, every piece of your brand needs to be spot-on as you figure out how to start a photography business.