You’ve bought your dream gear, chosen your ideal editing software, and are taking gorgeous photos that your clients adore. Despite your skills as a photographer, you may see photography business slow in January, or maybe you’re just not getting as many requests as you expected.
Launching a creative business is one of the best feelings in the world. You get to do what you love for a living, and it’s hard to beat that. Still, it’s easy to forget that you’re equal parts photographer and entrepreneur.
Even if you’re just freelancing on the side, your income relies on your business strategy. While you’ll benefit from some business-savvy, you certainly don’t need an M.B.A. to succeed.
Here’s our advice to help you grow your business and realize your true potential as a creative entrepreneur.
You likely know how much you need to make each month to cover your personal expenses, but have you considered that your business and personal finances should be separate?
Ideally, you’ve filed your business as an LLC, which makes your business responsible for its own debts and finances. This protects your personal assets that aren’t owned by the business and separates your finances.
If you already have a personal budget, start there when building your business budget. You know how much money you need to make each month, so that’s at least as much revenue as your business needs to earn, assuming you’re the only employee. Don’t forget to consider your long-term financial needs, like saving for retirement or covering medical insurance, too.
Then consider other business expenses. Do you fly out for destination weddings? Do you rent a studio with insurance and utility costs? Will you need to update your computer in a few years? These should be factored into your client’s costs and paid for by your business accounts.
Next, consider how your photography business fluctuates throughout the year. Do you see a slow-down between January and April? You may not get as much business, but you still need to make the same amount of money. Determine how much you need to save to cover employee pay, insurance, and other benefits during this season. Divide that total by the remaining 9 months and save that amount each month to cover your expenses year round.
As you begin separating your finances, you’ll start to see other costs you’ve been covering that your business should pay, and that should be factored into your service costs. Track your spending throughout the year so you can accurately price your services and save money to invest in your growth.
In a lot of ways, your photography speaks for itself. But building your reputation as an expert can improve your visibility and generate new leads.
Adding a blog to your business website is a great place to start. You can offer advice on wedding photography styles, how to unify your product images, and other topics relevant to your vertical. This shows how much you know about your craft, and can show up in search results to drive more traffic and engagement to your website.
If your services as photography business are localized, consider listicles like “Top Spots For Senior Photos In Nashville.” This way you’re reaching potential clients that are looking for experts to improve their photography experience.
Once you start building a reputation, you can extend into helping other professionals with their photography business. Start networking to build connections, write guest posts on other sites, or even write an photography ebook on your specialty.
These professional connections can boost your credibility and create a positive impression in the photography community. This way, you can expand your revenue streams into education, or just enjoy the boost in traffic and referrals.
Your relationship with clients shouldn’t end once the photos are delivered and your check clears. Depending on your photography services, clients may want to continue booking you after a positive experience. Businesses will always need new product photos, while a family will be just as excited to shoot baby photos for their second child as they were their first.
Even if your clients won’t offer you repeat photography business, they will post their photos all over social media, hang prints in their home or office, and ideally recommend your business when anyone asks. You can also get ahead of the recommendation and ask clients to leave a review of their experience.
If you have a Google My Business page, send clients a link to leave a review and offer a specific prompt so it’s easy for them to share. Something as simple as “what did you love most about your photo shoot?” gives the client a good starting place to leave a rave review.
You may also ask your clients for general feedback to improve your business. Any positive quotes can be added to your site as a testimonial, while constructive feedback can help you nail your next client experience for a glowing review.
Building relationships, sharing your knowledge, and setting clear business goals are some of the best ways to grow your reputation and earn new clients. As your visibility improves, you’ll earn higher quality clients that not only pay better, but offer a better experience for you, the photographer.