I remember the feeling I had when I first considered being a professional photographer. It was a freeing and liberating experience, and a whole new world opened up to me. What I did not understand at the time was that being a photographer (artist) was only about 20% of what I would be doing in the future. I’ve become a business owner and at the end of the day, if I want to keep on creating art, and having the freedom to have this career I chose for myself, I need to be a profitable and good businessperson. Many photographers start out by having photography as a hobby and they get stuck when it comes time to legitimize their business. If this is you, then I suggest you learn as much about what having a photography business entails and learn about costs of running your business and having great systems in place to make it profitable again and again. Here are 4 tips to becoming a professional photographer.
1. Learn the technical side. A huge mistake I made when I started my photography business was that I focused too much on the marketing aspect and I neglected the technical aspect. One day I realized I did not know some basic photography terms nor was I practicing them. Shame on me! But I learned my lesson that personality alone won’t make you a profitable business. You need to absolutely master your photography skills and always be seeking to improve your photography eye and technique.
2. Branding. I would also start researching more about what you want your brand to be like, to feel like and in the future, what you would like your images to look like. Branding is such a huge part of what you do and how you sell yourself and it is an ever-evolving process. But the good news is you can start today! Start a brand inspiration board on pinterest or even a printable dream vision board so you are reminded of what you desire your brand to be like.
3. Charge for your work and value yourself. Most upcoming new photographers, especially portrait photographers, first start out by photographing their kids or family. Then they start photographing some friends and next thing you know everyone is saying how amazing you are at your photography but then they start wanting some free photos. I actually started being invited to kids birthday parties in hopes I would be taking my camera. Insert EYE ROLL PLEASE! I soon learned to separate those things. I was not a professional photographer because I have a fancy camera, but I began valuing my eye and the art I wanted to make. I actually totally left a very popular social media platform at the time from which I was not getting ideal paying customers, only freeloaders. It was hard as I was getting noticed but at the end of the day it was not a good marketing strategy or where my ideal paying customers were. Stop shooting your friends for free and use the 2 am discount rule: which of your friends that you could call at 2am with a problem and they would help you. Those friends would get a discount or even free photography. Anyone else, start charging, even if it’s a small fee, but value your work right off the bat. I suggest you tackle #1 and #4 to start raising your prices as you are getting better and better.
I hope you have enjoyed these tips, but if you need hands on help in jump starting your photo business then check out this class I have collaborated with Cindy Reeves from Magazine Mamma and Erin Rachel from the Sixth Bloom. It is called the Photography Business 101 class.
We have a current special where you can save $100 and we have over $150 of bonuses.
My modules deal with how to start a blog and I show you step by step how to start a blog plus hook you up with a 36 blog post guide to get you your first 36 blog post ideas. I also show you where to get professional cheap and beautiful WordPress blog designs and options for you to build your own blog. I also teach a module all about social media for photographers and which social media platforms are the best for photographers. Don’t miss out on this awesome jam packed photography business class. SIGN UP HERE.
There is also modules on branding, pricing your self, knowing what to spend on and all you need to jump start your professional photography business.