Thinking of opening up a photography studio? Or maybe you have a studio, yet it isn’t bringing in much business. What can you do about it? What should you do to move forward, and what can you avoid?
If you’ve always worked for the “boss” and haven’t had the experience of working for yourself, you’re in for quite a shock when you first quit and venture out on your own. Its hard to lose the “job” mentality and start doing everything from an entrepreneur’s mindset. Yet if you’ve ever jumped over to your own business, you know there are some things you inevitably do that when you look back on, you simply laugh at your actions. “Did I really do that?” Yep, we’ve had a lot of those moments over the years.
And some of those moments stand out more than others. Here is some advice for those of you that have recently crossed over to your own business.
1. Staying in the scared zone too long
You want a client or two to build up your portfolio. You want some experience before you raise your prices. You test the waters of a business before you actually tell people you have a business. In other words, you leave it as a hobby for a long time because you’re too scared of what will happen if you make it a true business.
Starting a business can be scary. What if it grows too fast? What if it doesn’t? But living in the scared zone for too long simply cuts off your momentum. If you’re going to do it, just do it. The rest will fall into place.
2. Ignore the marketing
You may need a business card to hand out, so you print up a free set on your computer. Outside of that you let everything else slide. You may think you don’t need fancy postcards or brochures, or a great website to build up your portfolio – that will come down the road. But if you don’t start out at the beginning with a great professional look to your business, when will it come?
Think marketing first. How do you want to look to your customers? How do you want them to perceive your business? And more importantly, how would you like them to refer you? There’s a huge difference between someone saying, “I found a really cheap photographer that’s just starting out and she’ll give you a deal” and “I found a very professional studio that takes amazing portraits – I would highly recommend her, check out her site.”
3. Spending too much money
You’ve finally made the break from the job, and your time is your own. Since the clients aren’t flowing in, you have a chance to sit back and dream. That’s when you can start getting into trouble.
You dream about the perfect studio. And with a little research, you find a backdrop system you can’t live with out, a room full of props, a computer program that will help you with all of your photography management chores, and a new camera that will make everyone say “WOW”.
Maybe you put a little cash away to help build your new business. Or maybe you’re dipping into the credit cards. But if you fall into the “buy it today” philosophy, you’ll quickly be regretting everything that made you want to start your own business in the first place.
Ask yourself a question every time you are about to spend money – “Do I really need this right now to move me forward?” If the answer is no, put it off for awhile until you can truly afford it.
4. Spending too little money
People love to spend money on the “things” within the photography business. Yet the “necessities” often fall by the wayside. A necessity would be anything that will help you grow and profit from your business. Anything else is simply a “shiny object” that gets in your way of building a successful business.
A fourth lens that photographers have been raving about on Facebook would be a shiny object. A new website to help you attract new clients would be a necessity. The difference is one is required to build your business and help bring in clients, and therefore profits. The other is simply something you justify to have because you want it. Learn to spot the difference from the beginning.
5. Trying to be someone your not
In most cases, people can tell when you are being yourself. And when you’re not. If you’re new at business, tell them. If you’ve only been photographing for a short while, admit it. Trying to fool your clients into thinking you are something you’re not will only backfire. Everyone has to start at the beginning and people understand that. Price your products according to your skills and talents. Ask for opinions to help you grow.
There has never been an artist anywhere in time that has gone from zero to one million overnight.
It’s not rocket science
We hope these points are of help. They do not come naturally to many people, it’s just that in your own business it’s your job to do something about it.