How to start a photography business in 2022 (& what not to do!)
5 Tips to make sure your new photography business succeeds!
Starting a photography business in 2022 might be daunting! But it is possible to understand how to start a photography business if you do it right.
In this tutorial, John Branch IV, a professional wedding photographer, shares his tips for what to avoid when starting a photography business, and what you can do to succeed!
How to start (and not start) a photography business in 2022
#1: DON’T Buy tons of gear right away. DO start with minimal, high quality gear
You really need to make sure you just get a good camera.
You do not need the best camera or cameras on the market to start your photography business well.
Your clients won’t care what camera you have or use, they will care a lot about you delivering the product you told them you would give them, and that they have a great experience.
Most clients don’t care about pixel quantity, sharpness, how large you can print an image, etc. As long as they get what they asked for and paid for, they’ll be happy.
When you’re first starting, consider renting gear.
You could rent gear for your shoots while you are building your portfolio. This way you don’t spend all your money on the best camera but you can still use the best if you want its quality.
While you are doing that you can save up money from your shoots once you actually start to bring money in.
#2: DON’T Shoot for free! DO provide value to your clients
Everyone says that taking photos for free is a helpful way to build your portfolio and get your name out there but it is a mistake!
If you do free work, people will have unrealistic expectations of what they can ask you to do for free, and not understand the time it will actually take you.
You open the door to being exploited if you take on free work. You’ll become known as ‘the free work guy’ and people won’t understand your prices later on.
Price your work competitively and let the clients see the value they’re getting.
It only makes sense to work for free when it is doing something for you that you need. For example if you need to build up wedding photos and a friend is getting married, you could offer to do theirs for free because it is bringing you needed content for your portfolio.
Don’t let people come to you asking for free work because it will just dig you into a hole!
Your skills and your art are worth money, so make sure you are getting paid for the value you are providing your clients.
#3: DON’T Only use social media. DO make sure you have a website!
Social media is important, but it is not the only platform to use.
If you want to make legit money, you need a legit website.
Having a website, especially a good looking one that is built well, is the best way to look professional and attract customers.
The 3 red flags to your credibility as a business:
- Have an email address with ‘@gmail.com’ – you want your own website domain for your email address!
- Only be on Social Media – you need a website too
- Have bad looking photos – obviously, this will not get you clients
Bad photographs aren’t even the first thing on that list! If you have one or even all 3 of these it will scare away your customers because you will not look legitimate.
People spending thousands of dollars on a wedding photographer are going to want to see your work on your website, not your Instagram.
There are lots of website building tools out there you don’t need to be a master of this yourself. It’s worth it to pay a small fee to use a website tool. And you get great analytics to track visitors and sales, like in the picture below:
#4 DON’T Charge too low. DO price your work fairly
It’s definitely a scary thing when starting out to set your prices. You are worried about scaring people away by charging too much.
This is a similar trap to working for free especially when you are building your experience. Charge what you are worth and you will find the people who understand what you are worth.
Every time you want to charge more for something the first thought you are gonna have is ‘no one is going to pay that’.
Someone will pay for it, but you have to have a legitimate website and a great portfolio if you do want people to be willing to pay for it.
#5 DON’T be lazy with your finances. DO have a budget and save!
If you are not saving money to pay for your taxes, you are setting yourself up to fail financially. As soon as you start making profit for your business, the IRS will be coming for your tax bill.
Every dollar you make, set 30% aside. Do not spend it, do not touch it, don’t look at it! You need to set that aside to make sure come tax season you are able to pay the IRS.
Make sure you look into investments, saving for retirement and saving for future expenses! This is your business so it’s your livelihood. Your future self will thank you for managing your budget well.
Have a business banking account. Keep your personal money separate from your business money.
On top of that, it’s really important you have a budget for your business money. Don’t just have a pile of money that is meant to pay for everything.
You need to split it up into the categories of what you need to pay for (contractors, taxes, gear, exc) and split up your savings into these categories so you know how much you actually have to pay for each thing.
Budgeting monthly for income, expenses, and profit will help you see how the business is going and not have any surprising tax bills hit you. Apps like You Need A Budget make this really simple:
Now you know how to start a photography business the right way!
There are things to avoid when setting up a new photography business, but if you follow these tips you’ll be on your way to having a successful company!
Which of these photography business tips will you apply THIS WEEK?
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