One of the most commonly asked questions I get, either by email, via Twitter, or in the LinkedIn photography business and marketing group, is “How to start a photography business“, so I thought it would be useful to post a quick-start guide for anyone wanting to get started as a professional photographer.
Making the decision to become a professional photographer is the easy part… So easy in fact that no barriers whatsoever prevent anyone with a camera and at least one eye from considering professional photography as a business opportunity.
Indeed, the ease of entry is so simple that many people find themselves asking the question, “how to start a photography business” after they’ve already started and found the reality wasn’t as straightforward as they expected it to be!
So, if you’re new to the photography business, or are thinking about becoming a professional photographer, here are a few thoughts on the subject that might save you some heartache later on when you discover the many challenges involved!
How To Start A Photography Business: Legal Stuff
This is not a guide to the practicalities or legal requirements of starting your own photography business, as there’s already plenty of information readily available on that topic, and the requirements can be heavily dependent on where you plan to operate.
However, the key word here is “business”, so you should first make sure that you create an actual company or business under which to conduct your professional photography endeavors.
As I already mentioned, the legalities of creating a photography business vary tremendously from country to country, and can even vary from state to state here in the USA, so it’s highly advisable to seek legal advice from a business attorney or your local small business advice center.
Having created the business entity, you’ll also need to acquire the necessary licenses, as well as appropriate liability and equipment insurance to keep yourself covered in the unlikely event that someone decides to sue you following a mishap of some kind.
You may also need to register with the local tax authorities for the collection and management of sales tax etc.
Obviously, it’s important to make sure you do your research into how to start a photography business legally in the location you plan to operate in.
Building A Solid Foundation
For example, it’s no longer just about the photography!
From now on, you’re a marketer and seller of photography!
But the main problem faced by people who are starting out is knowing how to assemble the elements needed to be a professional photographer and actually make their photography business work for them, instead of the other way round.
And I know from my own personal experience that things can sometimes get a little overwhelming, especially in the beginning. It’s also not uncommon to hit something called the plateau effect, where you suddenly feel as though you’re putting in more and more effort, but not really getting any further.
To help you overcome these challenges and to put everything in the right perspective, I’d like to outline a very simple but strong foundational approach that anyone can use to build their photography business. This structure can help bring many of the elements needed for a profitable photography studio into sharper focus, and provide the professional photographer with a clearer sense of direction.
The Six Pillars Of Success
There are basically six elements to this approach. When brought together, they form six distinct pillars that will support everything you do from the moment you start your photography business.
Here are the six pillars, which you can take each in turn to see how they figure into answering the question “how to start a photography business”…
- Business Mindset
- Business Positioning
- Photography Marketing
- Website Marketing and SEO
- Selling Photography
- Client Relationship Management
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