When I first started my photography business over 7 years ago, I was clueless. I didn’t even know if photography was something I wanted to pursue as a career or if it would be just a hobby. These were the days that you actually had to figure things out on your own without help from social media. This was before Instagram, Pinterest, and Rising Tide Society. I didn’t have Facebook groups or a community of photographers to help me along my journey. I relied on Google, YouTube, blogs, and the rare moments when I ran into another photographer and they would actually talk to me. Community over competition was pretty much non-existent among photographers in my area. My hope is that this small collection of information will help you get your photography business going at a faster rate than I did.
Last week, I discussed a few tips for shooting and editing. This week, I am sharing a few of my favorite business tips to help you get your business to the next level and help you avoid some common business mistakes.
1. Get legal
You will want to research this for your area, but at the very least, your business should have a business license. They are pretty inexpensive and the process is fairly simple, so there is no excuse not to have one. If you live in the city limits, you will need both a city and state license.
2. Hire an accountant
You may already know that my husband is a CPA, so I’m slightly biased with this advice. However, once we got married and I started using him as my accountant, I realized how liberating it was to have someone else do this part of my business and I would never want to go back. I keep a spreadsheet with all my income and expenses for the year (that I update monthly) and on January 1st, I email it to Weston and I don’t have to worry about it again until it’s time for me to fork over my money for taxes. Even though I studied business and even took a few accounting classes, it is such a relief to have someone else file my taxes!
3. Get a separate checking account for your business
It is WAY easier to keep track of your business income and expenses if the funds are not commingled with personal funds. Plus, you will look more legit and more trustworthy if you can tell your clients to write a check payable to your business name.
4. Read EntreLeadership
I didn’t discover this book until earlier this year, but it is one of my favorite books right now! No matter how far along you are in your career and really no matter what industry you’re in, you can benefit from this book. Weston and I read this book together and we had so many light bulb moments as we read it. You can order a copy here.
5. Find a photographer friend
This should probably be at the top of the list because it is the best thing that has happened for my business. Being a small business owner can be lonely and stressful at times. No one quite understands what you’re going through like another photographer. It’s so fun to grow your businesses together and if you practice community over competition, both of your businesses can thrive. Shout out to my fellow photog friends that have been there for me over the last seven years! There are far too many to list here, but I appreciate every single one of you!
6. Use Honeybook
When I started getting more serious about my business, I required clients to mail deposit checks to me. One year, I even emailed receipts that I generated myself (What was I thinking??). I hated doing it, but I thought it was the responsible business thing to do. Then I discovered Honeybook. This software has saved me countless hours I would have spent emailing back and forth, collecting signed contracts, and collecting payments. I could talk for days about all the benefits of Honeybook, but I may need to save that for a later post. For now, here is a code to get 50% off your first year using Honeybook. It is worth every penny!
7. Post frequently on social media
In my experience, the best way to keep your business in front of people is to post on social media a minimum of twice a week. Post your recent sessions and tag people in them. This will share the photo to the people that like your page and also to the friends of the people you tag. You may not book anything right away, but people will constantly see your work and think of you when they need photos. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “You took photos of so-and-so a year ago and I love your work. I would like to book you for my [wedding, session, etc.]”
8. Get a website
I avoided getting a website for over 4 years because I was already getting tons of inquiries from people seeing my work on Facebook and I didn’t think I could handle the inquiries from a website. I don’t regret building my business slowly like this, but if you want to grow fast, you need a website. Once I launched my first website, I got booked every weekend for the next 10 months and now I stay booked for months in advance.
I hope these tips will encourage you in your photography business and help you grow faster than I did!
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