Let me start by saying, I am still learning…not just in photography, or the art of running my own business, but in life. I’m no expert, but I work hard and really care, and honestly want to do well and make those around me happy, so I think that’s a great place to start every morning.
I think when you go to your local courthouse to purchase a business license, you should be required by your state to attend a course on how to start a business; you should sign up for the course and attend before you’re even given your licence. The cost should be factored into the payment for your initial licence. In a perfect world there would also be a system in place so that your class not only covers the basics of starting a business, but also instruction on your particular business-details that pertain to you. I realize the latter part of that plan may be a little much to ask, but the former is a rational idea.
5 Big Surprises
- 1) The business of running a photography business- Read. Research. And repeat. There’s so much to learn about licences, taxes, bookkeeping, etc. There are many online articles pertaining to starting a business in your state. I think this is a good jumping off point with relevant questions to ask yourself when starting a business in Alabama. https://www.uah.edu/sbdc/resources/new/389-sbdc/10295-thinking-about-starting-a-business-in-alabama This article specifically addresses important steps in setting up a photography business. https://improvephotography.com/35114/how-to-set-up-a-photography-business-legally/
You’ll spend more time at your computer than you will behind your camera=MIND BLOWN.
- 2) Time spent marketing- It’s important to walk among your audience and reach them. This includes various social media platforms-Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are the ones I’m involved in. I know there are others, but these are enough to keep me busy. Remember, it’s called social media for a reason. Interact with your followers and those you are following. It’s bad form to only post images and leave. That’s like showing up to a party to try to sell something and walking out after your pitch. BE SOCIAL.
Check out the statistics on daily use of these platforms:
- Almost 1.5 billion people log onto Facebook
- Instagram has 500 million users
- There are 157 million Twitter users
- There are 2 million pins posted by Pinterest users
If this is where your potential clients are, you want to be there promoting your business.
- 3) The value of patience- When I decided to dedicate myself to photography and to run a full-time photography business, I was told the same thing by several people. It will take at least three years before you’re successful and doing more than treading water. That seemed like a really long time to me, and honestly, I didn’t believe it. It’s been a little over three years since I began BANG Images. Now, I’m a believer! Coasting is never something you’ll do as a business owner. Success comes with much hard work and time.
- 4) SEO. What’s that, you say? SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Would you believe I once had a conversation with a famous wedding photographer who pointed out a mistake I was making and said it would have a negative impact on my SEO, and I didn’t believe him?!? And now I ask myself, “WHY, oh why, are you so stubborn?” I didn’t understand SEO and thought if my photographs were good enough, the business would come and I didn’t need to learn about SEO to be successful. WRONG. Learn it. Practice it. Master it. Take a look at this link for the most up-to-date info. https://backlinko.com/seo-this-year
- 5) The art of communication- I speak for many people I know that consider themselves photographers, or artists, or both when I say, communication doesn’t always come easily for creative people. In fact, “introvert” is the word I hear most often in these circles. The art of communication is something I’ve personally had to work on. Obviously, I knew I’d be interacting with others, but coming across as confident and making others comfortable during a photo session, are skills I hadn’t considered. And small talk is not my strong suit, but I’ve definitely gotten better.