So you have a digital camera and you are thinking of turning your photography hobby into a successful business. But where do you start? From a logo, to a website, blogsite, domain name, email account, business card, camera equipment, lighting equipment, accounting software — you are feeling a little overwhelmed. The question is, what should you do first?
Identify the one action that will make the biggest impact
When starting any new business, you will have many things to do. The hardest part is knowing what to do first. Although, several things may be important, think to yourself, “what is the one thing that will make the biggest impact in launching my business?” For example, hiring a great accountant is important, but without any clients or income, this step will have very little impact in launching your business.
Biggest impact for photography businesses
Get a website! Getting a website will have the single greatest impact on starting a photography business. Certainly, word-of-mouth and referrals will bring you business as well. But, for example, if someone refers a business to you, what is the first thing you do? You go online and check out their website! Times have changed, getting a professional looking website is not difficult or expensive. There are many beautiful template photography website companies out there. You simply upload your own photos and content. You can even change the look of the website without any graphic design skills. Best of all, many of these companies help you set up your domain name and email accounts. These companies charge anywhere from $6 – $50/month on average. (Once your business is more established you may wish to hire a professional to design your website/blogsite – see branding below).
What content should be on the website?
Make sure to include your business name and location. So often I see photographers have forgotten to give their location! Don’t have a studio or a physical address? That’s okay. It is just important that you include the city and state/province that you work in. This is important for Google. You want your website to show up when someone searches for photography services in your city! For example, a potential client may type “Windsor Wedding Photographer” into a Google search. You want to make sure that you have mentioned on your website that you are a Wedding Photographer in Windsor!
Also, be sure to give your contact information – email and telephone number. It is ideal to have this on your “contact” page, and at the bottom of every page on your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you!
Finally, write a little bit about yourself and what type of photography you do. People can’t hire you if they don’t know what you do!
What images should I put on my website?
Many new photographers worry that they don’t have enough photos for a portfolio page. Don’t worry! Less is often more. If you are starting a wedding photography business, put up some wedding related photos. Don’t have very many wedding photos? Try this: go to your local florist and buy a beautiful bouquet. Then take some beautiful detail photos of it. Ask a friend if you can take some detail photos of her engagement ring and wedding band. Slowly, as you get more clients your portfolio will grow and you can add more photos. If you are starting a kids portrait photography business and you don’t have a lot of photos of children – ask a friend if you can photograph her toddler for the website.
I am by no means suggesting that you lie to clients about your level of experience. These are just some ideas on how to get supporting images for your website. Also, getting out there and taking more photographs is a great exercise in photography!
Unsure of your company’s identity? What about branding?
You always hear about people who haven’t started their photography businesses yet because everything behind the scenes, (branding, logo, studio, etc), isn’t perfect yet. They are afraid to start until everything is perfect. Chances are they will never be perfect – and they will never start. Your style and your company’s identity will become clearer to you the more you photograph. For example, you may decide that would like to photograph newborns only to discover, from experience, that you don’t have the patience. And you later realize that you really excel in the fast pace world of wedding photography.
Things to think about
There are many simple/plain website templates out there that you can choose from, if you are still discovering your style and brand. You can refine the your website’s style later. Look at established companies – they are always updating their website’s style! Don’t wait until everything is perfect behind the scenes to start your photography company. You might just be waiting forever! Get your website up, because it is the one action you can take that will have the biggest impact on propelling your photography business forward. Good luck!