immerse workshops starting a photography business
Ok, sweet photographer!  You’re starting a photography business and, let me guess, you want a little advice from other photographers!  You know?  The ones who have been there, done that.  Look no farther, because I’ve got your back on this one!  I asked experienced photographers to complete a survey about their thoughts on starting a photography business, and this is what they had to say…

Starting a photography business can be overwhelming…

So before I give you information from other photographers, it’s important to do a little soul searching and planning of your own!  While it’s SUPER important to be a part of a community and ask other’s for advice, you also have to be smart about it!  If you constantly are looking to others to tell you what to do, eventually it will become hard to hear that little voice inside you… who usually knows what’s best and right for your business and life.  If you haven’t already done it, I want you to check out these two blog posts before we get started…

the Mental Art of Starting a Photography Business

Dedicate and commit yourself to being the best artist and photographer you can be!  That’s really the first step!  I can teach you all the business and marketing strategy in the world, but without some camera skills…. all that info will only take you so far!  Now, you may just be learning how to read your light meter or calibrate your screen, and that’s ok!  As long as you’re committed to getting better and always growing, it’s cool!  Read more about that here and I’ll also tell you some of the business facts you need to know and how to find a great community for yourself!

3 Steps to Starting a Photography Business

We’ll chat about getting legal, pricing yourself for profit, and SMO { that’s social MEDIA optimization – bet you thought I was going to say SEO}!  Read more about those topics here or over in the Iris-Works blog, right here!

Now you’re really ready to hear from other photographers about starting a photography business!

The photographers that responded were from a variety of genres and, on average, have been in business for six years, 77% of them invested in photography education {either technique or business}, and self-reported that they take home more than $500 per client {some even reported earning upwards of $900 per client}… and that’s AFTER product expenses were subtracted!  So these photographers know a thing or two about running a sustainable business!

When I started my photography business, I wish someone would have told me…

If you’re a new photographer and just starting your photography business, you should know that: we all start in the very same place.  The beginning.  And it’s hard.  And it’s confusing.  And it’s overwhelming… and if your’e feeling any of those things.  You’re COMPLETELY NORMAL!  One of the most loving responses on the survey simply said, “be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight :)”  So show yourself a little grace and let us help you, ok?

When asked to complete this sentence, “I wish someone would have told me…” the results almost ALL echoed the same thing: invest in education and trust your gut when it comes to making big decisions for your company!  Here are quotes from the survey:

  • take business courses!
  • don’t shoot and burn. IPS is great for immediate feedback on your images and better for the bank account!
  • invest in education, not equipment!
  • running a business should be your first priority in order to succeed.
  • it’s okay to continually re-evaluate! I wish I had known not to be so scared of raising prices, changing structures, etc!
  • learn business & marketing first!
  • invest in a mentor and to rent gear before purchasing.

According to one photographer, “I was all over the place with branding and finding my center in business. Would have helped to have a coach to show me the right path! Would have saved me probably my first 2 years in business floundering about.”  Those are pretty strong words, don’t you think?  Photography mentors can be found online {that’s what I do, duh – check this out} and in your local community!  Find someone who can teach to your weaknesses and who knows how to bring out your personal best!  Those two things make for a winning combination!

This was the biggest mistake I made when I started my photography business…

sparkle society business quotesOh…. how hindsight is 20/20!  If we could all go back and fix our mistakes, it would be such a perfect life…. albeit, perfectly BORING life.  Mistakes, happy accidents, a beautiful oops… these are all parts of of journeys and our stories!  They’re how we learn!  So if you’ve already made some of these mistakes, pick yourself up and move on, ok?!  Here’s what our photographers had to say about their biggest mistake:

  • not pricing correctly.
  • under charging my worth and not knowing how much I needed to charge to be profitable.
  • low pricing. Once you set pricing it’s hard to raise it without tickin’ clients off!
  • operating a shoot and burn business.
  • shooting on auto.
  • not knowing business marketing.
  • i had rubbish business cards and a bad website. {this one made me giggle… nobody likes rubbish business cards!}

And while all of those things are certainly mistakes that a lot of photographers make, this photographer summed it up perfectly, saying “I worried WAY more about what other people were doing than what I was doing. I spent so much time looking at my competition, looking at other photographers, styles, etc. I was worried that my work didn’t stack up, that my style wasn’t as good as other photographers, and spent so much time thinking about and buying actions, style changes, templates, etc.”

Friends, when you focus so much on someone else’s highlight reel, comparing it to your own everyday life, you’re NEVER going to stack up.  So knock that crap off, and let’s find our voice, ok?!  If you want a little inspiration, check out this Spotify playlist I made for you… it’s great {and motivational} editing music!

The best thing I did when I started my photography business…

When I was teaching elementary art and discussing how to give a good critique, I always told my students that they not only needed to identify the problem BUT ALSO give a solution to the problem.  Because, let’s be honest, sometimes we make mistakes simply because we don’t know how to correct an issue or {even more common}, we don’t know it’s there in the first place!  I mean… how many times has that happened to you?!  Right?!?!?  If you could see my first website, you’d totally crack up {because it was a piece of work!}  But we all start somewhere!  So what are some things our photographers did right, when they were starting a photography business:

  • raising my prices!
  • switching to IPS!
  • opening a storefront {my clients tripled in the first year that I opened}!
  • I specialized in one genre and put all my energy into that {instead of being exhausted all the time}!
  • asking an unreal amount of questions!
  • didn’t go into debt – paid cash for everything!
  • took workshops and shot everything I could to find my niche and learn my craft.
  • connected with other photographers and entrepreneurs.
  • I always knew my numbers and, because of that, I could look at my bottom line and know where my biggest profit was and when I needed to ditch a certain product or session type.
  • found a photography mentor
  • shoot ALL.THE.TIME.
  • photograph lots of different types of photography!

I quoted a lot more photographers on that section because it’s important to see that, when you’re starting a photography business, there are lots of ways to find success!  What works for one photographer may not work for you {notice the two opposing views: specialize vs shoot all the styles}!  You have to know your voice, your true north, and then you can start to listen to other voices!  What you may learn from other photographers is A way, not THE way!

We really want to see you succeed when you are starting a photography business!

It’s true!  We never want to see another photographer fall or fail.  For those of us who operate in a true spirit of community over competition, we are inspired when we see others succeed!  Want proof?  When asked what advice they would give to a new photographer, just look at these love letters to YOU….

  • learn all you can about running a business!
  • marketing should be your best friend
  • be patient, know your worth, and keep learning!
  • you are in charge. Hear your client out, find out what they need, then help them accomplish this within your parameters. YOU make your hours, packages, locations, timeline, etc. Only vary from your parameters if you want to, lest there be resentment. If you can’t accomplish their goal, there’s nothing wrong with saying that “I’m not the photographer for you.”
  • learn your camera then learn your light.
  • don’t jump the gun. Invest in yourself and do it right from the beginning.
  • diversify and never, EVER give up.
  • referrals are your best friend but you should also go out and network. Connect with other people in your industry or who partner with your industry on a regular basis {like florists, hair and makeup professionals, venues, etc.}!

To be honest, I think Amanda {from Kimberlin Gray Photography} summed it all up really well.  She said, “Treat your business like a BUSINESS. Don’t try to please your family and friends, make decisions based on what is best for your business. If you have good customer service and a quality product, people will come back to you even if you raise prices, restructure packages, change things up, and more!”

Can we get an amen?!

Starting a photography business can be hard… but oh, so worth it!

Learning from the community of photographers around you, investing in education, and listening to experienced photographers really can change the shape of your business.  If, and only if, you’ve taken the time to understand why you’re starting this journey, what you hope to accomplish, and how your voice is unique from everyone else’s in this world.

The journey starts with a single step.

I wish you so much joy and so many blessings as you start your business.  If you’re ready to take yourself seriously, I’d love to be the one to link arms with you and help you get started on the right track!  I invite you to pick out a FREE mini-workshop to help you get started and to see if we’re a good match!  Come on over here to pick a business, social media, or live streaming video workshop – with love from me to you!  Starting a photography business is an amazing journey and I cannot wait to see where yours leads…

immerse workshops cyrissa

ps – if you were one of the many photographers who chimed in to this survey, I thank you FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART for being willing to share your experiences and advice with us!  xoxo

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