What is the most common mistake made by amateur photographers?
Not thinking like a professional when starting their photography business.
It's why some of the most technically and naturally talented photographers fail to succeed, while other less qualified ones turn their passion into thriving photography businesses.
The only difference between the two scenarios is understanding how to run and market their business, so it connects with their target audience, creates continual work even when times are tough, and guarantees a profit.
Let us help you get your business clicking by turning your focus onto the 8 common mistakes made by photography business owners.
Undercharging for your time
Not knowing how much you need to charge to be profitable, or worse, shooting for free is a mistake many new photography business owners make.
And is detrimental to your new business in several ways: It under minds your professionalism puts your business at risk by decreasing essential cash flow and reducing your client's perceived value of your service.
Remember, every professional photographer started as an amateur, but those who create a successful photography business change their perspective from amateur to experienced studio owner from day one of starting their business.
And people don't want the cheapest photographer recording their most intimate family moments; they want the best they can afford and often dig a little deeper if they believe you're worth it. When you value your photography, others will too.
Thinking word of mouth is enough
Word of mouth (WOM) recommendations are an excellent way of obtaining clients, as people are far more inclined to use a photographer recommended by family, friends, and business associates.
However, WOM has its limitations, and by not reaching out to people and being proactive with marketing, you're reducing your immediate and future income.
Like any new business, you need a marketing plan.
A marketing plan enables you to create targeted marketing strategies. You find those by understanding your target audience and which marketing channels will work best for your style of photography.
To understand your target audience, you must first identify your ideal clients and determine where you'll find them.
For you, it could be by driving traffic from a social media platform such as Instagram (perfect for photographers) or Facebook to your website. Or for local work, canvassing local businesses, attending events, or advertising in local media, such as radio and print.
Working without a client contract
Using a client contract from day one of business is a habit worth forming because if you don't, the odds are you'll eventually get screwed. And there's no point in learning the hard way!
Your client contract outlines the boundaries of each project, so if your client changes their requirements, you have a warranty to fall back on when increasing your fee.
A client contract hasn't got to be complicated; all you need is the following: The scope of the project, terms and agreements, and any other specific requirements and arrangements. You can always hire a lawyer to gain advice on what to include or look at websites like thelawtog.com that provide numerous examples of photographer contracts for you to use.
Not allowing for off-season slumps
Every business has its peak and off-seasons. But the ones that stay afloat are those that plan for the quiet seasons and implement marketing strategies to ensure their peak cash flow periods cover their annual costs or their income remains consistent regardless of seasonal demand.
This is where you have to implement a proactive sales strategy. One that accounts for off-season sales slumps by setting aside reserve funding for when business is slow and offering preseason and postseason sales promotionsto ensure the work continues to flow.
Failing to build a brand (from the start)
As a photography business owner, you are your brand, and you must implement your branding from day one because people connect with brands, not businesses.
When starting your new business, you don't have the luxury of brand awareness; however, by implementing a concise branding strategy, you can create that vital recognition by using your branding on all your marketing platforms.
Recognition also creates trust, which is crucial for converting visitors to your website or social platforms into clients. Fortunately, numerous branding tools are available to help you build your brand and place it where needed. When making your brand, show clients your personality and naturally communicate with them by including your personal info, a headshot, regular updates, and of course, examples of your work.
Thinking you don't need a business plan
Creating a business plan rarely ranks highly on the list of priorities for rookie photographers, but if you want to succeed, it's a common mistake you must avoid.
A well-crafted business plan provides you with a roadmap for success by outlining your ideas, expectations, goals, and timelines for achieving them. Many of those new to running a business often avoid this step out of fear of the unknown. Believing that a business plan has to be a fifty-page document containing everything from initial funding, quarterly financial projections, target audience demographics, marketing strategies, and estimated annual profit.
And while all of those are important, you can provide those answers using a simple one-page business plan.A one-page business plan enables you to get what's important and required for your success out of your head and down on paper, giving you a blueprint to use as you're going forward.
It's a simple plan that provides clarity, helping you stay on track. And if you require future funding to assist in your photography business expansion, you can use it as the outline for a more expansive business plan.
Not honing your craft
Famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, "your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." The point is to shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more and never stop evolving your photography skills.
There are thousands of average photographers out there; why would you want to compete with them? When you hone your craft, you improve it, and if you're going to become the number one photographer in your niche, that's what you've got to strive for.
Be your own worst critic, push yourself to be better, improve your craft, create a standard that your competitors cannot meet. That way, you'll produce work that people notice and want to be associated with. Which of course means you'll be able to charge more for your services.
Not having a website
Is there any business that needs a website more than your photography business? Simply put, no.
Sure, you might be using social media to promote your service, but a professional-looking website is where you turn interested viewers into paying clients by visually displaying your skills and creating a connection with your target audience. And it's also where you can place a call to action, highlighting any promotions or discounts you're offering and a way for your customers to contact you and book your services.
Here are some other ways your website can help your business:
- Increase your brand awareness
- Show people who you are and what you're about
- Instill trust by displaying previous customer testimonials
Most importantly, your clients expect you to have a website and often use it as the deciding factor when choosing a photographer to entrust with capturing their most precious moments.
Are you making any or all of the 8 common mistakes made by photography business owners? If so, don't continue thinking all will be ok because only one in ten start-up businesses survives. Now's the time to focus, address, and overcome them. Do it right, and you will turn your passion for photography into a business for life.