Most photographers dream of starting their own business. But the majority never take the steps needed to turn that dream into reality. It’s understandable why that’s the case. Starting a small business can be intimidating.
But creating and sticking to a solid photography business plan can help anyone succeed. In the following article we’ll examine the steps needed to create a photography business plan from scratch.
1. There’s Never a Perfect Time to Start
The single biggest cause of failure comes from never really starting in the first place. Almost everyone considers starting their own business. Many, or even most, people intend to launch their own business later on in life.
People usually decide to wait until things are perfectly settled down before starting. But the vast majority of these people never get around to it. Life itself is seldom perfectly calm or stable. Wait for things to be perfect and the time will never come.
That’s why the first step in creating a photography business plan is to begin immediately. One should think of this planning stage as the first step to independence. This doesn’t mean making huge life changes yet. But it does mean documenting one’s ideas and starting to make it a reality.
2. Start on a Full Portfolio
One should have resources prepared and ready to show to clients at any moment. The best way to prepare is by creating an online portfolio. This is especially important as one can work on it while still employed elsewhere.
There are several free resources which one can use for a portfolio. But most people find WordPress is the best choice when starting a new portfolio. The main reason one should consider WordPress is that it can grow organically with one’s business.
One can begin for free on a smaller scale. But as one’s needs grow it’s easy to migrate WordPress content into a more professional space. One can easily start out by using a portfolio theme. The Easy Photography Profile is one of the more popular options. And from there it’s easy to add in additional features.
3. Consider Content for the Portfolio
Adding content to one’s portfolio might seem simple at first. But it’s often complicated by a number of different factors. One of the most important involves ownership. People often forget that their professional contracts might transfer ownership of a photograph.
Because of this one can’t treat an online portfolio like a personal photo album. People need to be absolutely certain that they have full legal ownership of a photograph before using it professionally. Many people find it best to err on the side of caution and start from scratch.
This isn’t just helpful for legal reasons. Setting out to create original work ensures that photographers are cataloging their needs. It’s often a good way to decide what equipment and services are actually necessary.
4. Start Networking
This step goes hand in hand with creating a portfolio. Any new business will need a solid customer base. This isn’t’ an easy proposition at the very start. But one can simplify it by building up some solid contacts before an official launch.
One should pay attention to the needs of friends and family. Most important occasions call for professional photographers. And it often happens when people are low on funds. Volunteering to do it for free isn’t just a nice favor.
It fits into a photography business plan by building up professional contacts. When people see a photographer at work they’ll often want to inquire about availability and pricing. This can serve to leverage a free engagement into paid work. And at the very least it’s useful for building up the content of one’s portfolio.
5. Categorize the Full Range of Online Tools
An online portfolio is a good start when creating a web presence. But there’s a vast array of useful tools for photographers. In fact, there’s so many tools that one can quickly become lost in all the options.
This is why it’s important to consider one’s online presence before officially launching. When writing a photography business plan one should formally state intent to use various online tools.
Formally stating intent to use a particular tool is important for multiple reasons. It helps to keep one focused on a few options rather than spreading effort too thin. And it also makes it easier to plan ahead for service integration.
Some online tools work well together. For example, Instagram and Facebook have native integration between their services. Other sites require one to learn how to use third party addons or plugins. One should study and document all of it before launching the photography business.
6. Create a Realistic Budget
Creating a budget isn’t a fun prospect. But it’s an essential part of one’s photography business plan. High-end photography equipment is notoriously expensive. But one should consider just how high end that equipment needs to be.
One shouldn’t aim too high or too low. Instead, it’s best to consider how one can maximize available resources. One’s current hobbyist equipment might well be enough to start out with. A photographer needs to realistically consider whether new hardware will help during the first year of business.
This period is the most difficult for new companies. And any money saved on equipment is important. Hardware spending needs to stay within essentials during that period. But after deciding on what equipment one needs it can turn into an actual budget.
The photographer needs to begin by categorizing all of the items. From there one can consider how to shop for them. If an item can be found used at a good price than that should come under consideration as well. Budgeting one’s needs and comparing it to current income provides a solid timeframe.
But one should also consider living expenses on top of it. This will also help the photographer decide whether he’ll devote himself entirely to the business or start out part-time.
7. Make It a Group Effort
Starting a new business is incredibly stressful. Most people rank it among the most stressful and the most rewarding parts of their life. But people shouldn’t assume they’ll need to carry that stress alone.
People usually feel nervous about asking friends and family for help. But the earlier step in building contacts shows just how important networking can be. They often find that their social circle is the most important resource for success.
There’s no single thing that one should look for there. But when putting together a business plan it’s important to consider what others can offer. Friends might be able to help prepare taxes, offer up business contacts or any number of things.
The most important part of networking is to just make need and intent clear. New business owners often find themselves surprised by offers of help. But help is only offered when people are aware of the need.
Starting a photography business isn’t easy. But putting it into the context of a solid plan makes it far less intimidating. To return to the first point, the journey begins by actively deciding to start.
One might go through the steps at a slow or fast pace. But the important part is making the decision to do so in the first place.