This week I’ve had four photographers who are starting photography businesses approach me to ask for assistance. It is exciting that people are taking that step, and using Beyond Here as a resource to help them.
These four people are all launching their businesses on a part time basis – in addition to holding full time jobs. I like that approach. They have cash flow coming from another source while they build their photography business. As we have discussed their businesses, all four have asked me the same question “Craig, could you critique my portfolio?” While I am happy to provide them with input on the style and quality of their work, there is a real danger that photographers get too focused on the images and not focused enough on the business.
If you are starting your photography business, or reassessing after being in business for a while, here are 7 great questions to ask when you start a photography business.
Question 1 – who do I know who can help me generate clients? When you are starting in business it is common to have high hopes, big dreams, and not many clients! Building a pipeline of clients can take time, but everyone has a network who they should ask to help them. If you are a wedding photographer, do you know a marriage celebrant who could help you? If you photograph new born babies, do you know mothers of little ones who could help? Or a mid wife? If you shoot events, do you know someone who is an event organizer? or who works at an event venue? These people can help you. Ask them.
Question 2 – how can I refine my workflow to complete jobs efficiently? Shooting and editing jobs is only a fraction of the tasks you will do when you are running a photography business. If you spend too long completing jobs, you won’t allow enough time for the important tasks of finding and meeting new clients. A great starting place is to challenge yourself whether your work flow is optimal. Many professionals outsource post production work to allow them to focus more time on clients. Is your workflow working for you or against you?
Question 3 – what will I do if I have a gear failure? Having a gear failure on one of your first jobs is very unlikely but could quickly bring an end to your business if you have not planned for it. Imagine a wedding photographer with only one camera whose gear fails minutes before the ceremony. You are not likely to have a long successful career if your first bride doesn’t get images of the ceremony and reception. So how will you handle this? The easiest is to make sure you have multiple cameras and lenses. Then if you have a failure in one, you can go to your alternate. (If you are a wedding photographer, this is another good reason to work with a second shooter. For more good reasons see here). If you can’t afford to purchase back up gear, make sure you borrow some from another photographer.
Question 4 – do I have a process to get paid? Do you know how you will bill and collect payment from your client? As a wedding photographer I ask for payment in advance. It is written into my contract that payment will be made 4 weeks prior to the wedding date. When I am shooting a wedding it is reassuring to know that not only will I get paid, but that I have been paid already. Have you considered issues around payment?
Question 5 – how will I back up my clients images? When you are running a business you can’t afford for a computing error to cause you a client disaster. There are many ways to back up your clients pictures to protect you from losing your clients files. I keep mine on a laptop, backed up on an external hard drive, plus USB storage of clients files, plus off site back up with an online storage provider. It might sound like a lot of caution, but a photography business can’t afford to lose client files.
Question 6 – are myself and my gear insured? Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a photographers equipment to be stolen. Unless you can afford to replace all your gear in the event of theft, it is important to have insurance. You will also need to look into public liability insurance. Again, small businesses can’t afford for an event like a wedding guest tripping over your camera bag to put you out of business. For more information on liability insurance please see this post.
Question 7 – how can I generate more income from my current jobs? Many people get into the photography business by shooting family portraits or weddings. They both provide an excellent opportunity to better serve your client and to generate greater revenue. If you shoot family portraits and provide images on disk, you have the opportunity to provide prints and albums. That can add greater value for your client and generate more income for you. As a wedding photographer, can you provide high quality prints and frames as well as electronic images? Can you provide the bride and groom with a service to turn their images into a classic album? With one each for both sets of parents? Look at your existing work and find ways to add more value for your client and generate more income for yourself.
Thanks for reading 7 great questions to ask when you start a photography business.