There are many reasons why a photography business may succeed or fail. Businesses come and go all the time. Some are still thriving, even in tough economic times. Here are three keys for success in your part-time or full-time business:
1. Business skills- These three keys aren’t necessarily in order of importance, but if I did have to put them in order, good business practice would most likely be first. I have seen some incredibly talented photographers who have struggled because they are not good business owners. On the flip side, I have seen “average” photographers do quite well because they focused on the business side of their photography as much as or more than their talent as a photographer. Here are some areas to consider:
- Bookkeeping/Record keeping- Organization is a must, not only for tax purposes, but also for budgeting. You must know your expenses versus income.
- Wise investments/purchases- Impulse-buying will kill your business. If you must always have the latest and greatest gadget, you will be in trouble. Carefully plan each purchase for your business. Only spend what you absolutely have to. Keep in mind that most electronics drop quickly in value and will be replaced every few years or so. Quality camera lenses generally hold their value, so spending more on a lens is a wise long term investment.
- Marketing- Social media is one example of how technology has changed marketing. The phone book is being used less. People are finding business through referrals via social media. Customers are searching Google. A website is a necessity if you want people to see your portfolio. If you are slow to adapt to changes, you may miss out on potential customers. Try to keep up with technology and advertising trends. Use promotions and specials to attract attention.
- Customer Service- Great customer service will help propel your business. Not only does it produce happy customers, but also customers that return again and again, and that tell their friends and family about you.
- Pricing- This is always a hot topic- “How much should I charge???” If the wrong pricing structure is used, you will lose customers. Who are you looking to sell to? Define your customer, then structure your pricing and marketing in order to reach that customer. Comparing pricing to other photographers in your area can also help give you an idea where to start.
2. Quality Product- People will pay more for what they perceive to be valuable.
- Great Photography- You don’t have to be the best photographer in town, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be. Work hard at learning and improving. Allow your work to be critiqued by other experienced photographers. Constructive criticism hurts, but is essential to growth. Join some photography forums and make the most of the information you discover.
- Great Presentation- Knock your customer’s socks off with your product. Don’t get your prints done at Walmart (with Walmart.com printed on the back). Use a professional lab. Deliver your orders in nice packaging. People appreciate nice packaging and it will increase the value of your services.
3. Persistance- Success takes time.
- Don’t quit…at least not right away. I have read story after story of successful people who have failed numerous times, but kept at it until—SUCCESS! You may lose out on a big sale, accidentally delete images from a big photo shoot, or have an angry mother-of-the-bride threatening to sue. Don’t give up. Keep going.
- Work hard- Successful people aren’t lazy.
- Motivation- What is your motivation? Family? Financial security? Allow that motivation to give you the endurance to keep going when things aren’t going well. Look to the end goal.
- Patience- Success doesn’t come overnight.