How Do You Start A Photography Business?
<p>I had an email this week from a photographer wanting to know the best way to get started in the business of photography. As questions go, its about as open-ended as youre going to get, but the interesting thing is, its one I get all the time. Maybe its a sign of the times that people want easy answers and cookie-cutter solutions, but the fact is, photography as a business is never going to be so simple.
The business of photography is something that you really need to approach based on a honest assessment of your abilities, strengths and interests. From there you can then see if theres any kind of market for your planned products or services, and do some proof of concept research to ensure those markets will indeed pay you for your offerings.
Then youll be ready to start planning your business!
Unfortunately most photographers come at it from the opposite direction. They have a desire to make money selling their photos but no real understanding or interest in the business processes involved in converting photography to income. They mistakenly believe great photography is all it takes to build a successful business.
So with all this in mind, this is the gist of my response to the would-be pro photographer.
1. Start with an honest assessment of your current situation.
Photography is extremely competitive simply because it seems like such a dream-job to so many people. Modern digital technology means anyone with basic camera skills can create a good image, so everything thinks theyre a great photographer with real prospects, you need to work out what makes you different?</p>
<p>What specialised skills do you have that will set you apart from the crowd?
What interests and knowledge do you have that you can use to in your work?
What subjects fields do you do your best work with?
Do you have a distinct personal style of work that sets you apart?
Is you equipment suitable for creating high-res, high quality images?
Do you have the skills and software to take an image from your camera and create a commercial quality print-ready file?
What business experience do you have?
What sales marketing experience do you have?</p>
<p>The idea here is to first of all identify the kinds of products and services youre able to offer, and then assess whether those photographic services are of commercial quality?
2. Is there a market for those products and/or services?
Its one thing to know you can produce some amazing work, but its another to know there are people out there who want to use it. So you really need to put in some time to determine whether or not there is a market for what you do?
It doesnt matter how good your work is if you cant find anyone to buy it, and yet many photographers go into business with little more market research than the encouragement of friends and family. “Wow, those photos are good, you should sell them!”
So somehow you have to answer the following questions</p>
<p>Are there people who need the kinds of images you like to shoot?
Are there people who buy photos of the subjects you shoot?
Are there people who will pay you to create specific images for them?
Are there people who will pay for your expertise or knowledge?</p>
<p>The best approach here is to find other people offering similar products and services, and then see how your offerings stack up? (Google is great for this!)</p>
<p>Are your subjects similar?
Is your technique as strong?
Do you present as professionally?
If the buyer was to view your portfolio and that of your competitor, who would they choose to do the job?
<p>If youre serious about making a business of your photography, you need to be totally honest with yourself when you answer these questions. The truth is, you dont necessarily have to be a great photographer to build a success photography business, but your work does need to be as good as the competition.
You also need to be clear on what youre offering, who your offering it to, and why they are going to buy.
Unfortunately, many photographers – and many other would-be business owners – start with little more than a product idea, and rarely take the time to objectively test their idea to see if theres likely to be genuine demand. They build a business based on little more than wishful thinking and wonder why it fails?
Fortunately these days its quite simple to test any idea and assess the likely demand using the search engines and keyword research tools.
3. Proof of concept testing
This is where you prove to yourself that there is a real demand for your offerings. In days gone by this would have involved surveys and focus groups, and taken considerable time and money, but these days is super quick and easy.
The best place to start is to simply search in Google for other people offering something similar? The volume of search results will give you an indication of the competition, which is a good start. Too many competing results and possibly your idea needs to be more unique. None at all and there mightnt be enough demand for it to be viable.
The real </p>