Starting your own photography business is a very exciting time. This week I have been helping a photographer who is making that leap. He is very excited and can’t wait to put his business skills to the test, along with his photography skills. He has several future bookings, but not enough to guarantee the financial success of his business in its first year. In the course of our conversations we discussed how important it was to keep overhead costs low while the income builds up. I have summarized that discussion into these 7 money tips for when you start your photography business.
Tip #1 – Work From Home. To keep overhead costs down the most cost effective business premises are your own home. You can effectively set up your business and pay no more for your premises than you are already paying. It might not be a space you want to bring clients to, and it might not be as prestigious as having your own studio on High Street – but working from home is very cost effective and helps to keep your overhead costs low.
Tip #2 – Rent Gear. When you are starting out and have a new project you may not have all the equipment you need. At times like this it is very tempting to go out and buy that new lens so that you can do an expert job. Resist the urge. A smart money managing photographer will resist the urge to buy lots of new gear until they have the cash flow to afford it. In the meantime, rent any additional equipment you need.
Tip #3 – Minimize Studio Costs. If your photography business involves studio work, the cost of your studio can have a big impact on the financial performance of your business. It is tempting, and great for our egos, to buy or lease a top quality studio space. Unless you have the client bookings to afford it, a lease on an unused studio space can quickly deplete your businesses cash reserves. Remember the objective is to have a successful business and make studio arrangements that your business can afford. Have you considered renting a studio on a daily or half daily basis? Can you build an effective studio in your home?
Tip #4 – Go to Your Client. Having your own studio premises makes it very easy to have clients come to you, but can be very difficult to afford when you are starting out. Have you considered the alternative? Go to your clients. Shoot in natural light. Or with portable lighting. Hold your client meetings at their home or their favorite coffee shop. The extra distance you travel will be offset by not losing sleep over lease payments you can’t afford.
Tip #5 – Outsource Printing. Are you an expert in the print process? Do you have a passion for the latest print machines? Are you doing enough printing to justify investing in the latest technology? If you do, you are in the minority! If you’re not a print expert, get an expert to do your prints. Let them invest in the latest machines and inks, and pay them for each piece you have printed.
Tip #6 – Become an expert in off camera flash. Finally a tip for people wanting to invest in some equipment and improve their skills! Yes, I encourage you to become an expert in off camera flash. It will help you shoot well lit images in a large variety of lighting situations – and at the same time avoid a major investment in lighting equipment. Win, win! You’ll improve your skills and also your income producing potential, without burdening your business with another investment. Remember, when you are starting out, keeping costs down is important while you build the income up. The focus needs to be on achieving business success – not on looking great while your business goes broke.
Tip #7 – Avoid Debt. Debt can have a very serious impact on the viability of any young business. Your business will go through good times and bad, and debt adds pressure when times are tough. Your lender won’t be concerned about jobs that are going to materialize soon, they are just interested in getting their money back. Adding debt, adds pressure. Avoid debt if you can.
Thanks for reading 7 money tips for when you start your photography business. I hope they have been helpful and will help keep your expenses low while you build up the income.