A photograph they say speaks a thousand words, but with the latest technology, we can confidently say that a photograph now speaks a million words. But are you listening to this words spoken daily with smart phones and cameras?
Every single day, we create and share memories, we have encounters, some of which can flicker away if not captured with a camera to be cherished later and it is photography that helps us capture, share and relieve those memorable moments.
No wonder Aaron Siskind said that “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
The world as we know it now however has changed because of the corona virus pandemic with its attendant lock-downs all over the world, so we are no longer as free as much as we want, in going for those outings to snap those beautiful shots.
But the purpose of this write up is not to tell you how beautiful the world of photography is, or how photography is the next best thing after slice bread, but rather to give you a detailed step by step guide on how you can become a professional photograph business owner and generate massive profit, even in the midst of the lock downs.
The good news is that in our post lock down world, has adapted so quickly to working remotely. With more businesses moving online, it means that new websites are been created daily, new business models created, rise in digital marketing companies, and images are now needed for new Instagram campaigns, amongst other, this then is the best time you can start your photography business in 2021 and beyond and profit hugely from it.
So starting your own photography business is a great way to add a second income or it can even become your main income stream, if you work hard. While the photography market is competitive, many photography business owners have been able to find their niche and build a sustainable career, you can do this also.
And as we said, we are going to provide you every detail that you need in this guide, to enable you start quickly and profit from photography business.
Photography has a broad and vast category, so to build and grow your business, you need to choose the area of photography you want to get started with.
The followings are the different broad areas of photography you can start your photography business in.
- Event photography
- Wedding photography
- Advertising and lifestyle
- Sports photography
- Portrait photography
- Fashion photography
Now that you have decided on the category of photography business you want to start, let us consider the likely costs of setting up, before we look at the detailed step by step guide on how to make your photography business profitable.
Below are the basic estimated budget to get started in your photography business, this is however dependent on the country you will be operating from and also the prevailing market rates as at when you are setting up.
- Two cameras: $1,00 to $2,000+ each
- Multiple lenses: $500 to $1,000+ each
- Two flashes: $600+
- Multiple memory cards: $50+ each
- Two external drives: $100+ each
- Computer or laptop with sufficient memory: $1,500+
- Website $100+
- Light-room and Photoshop subscription: $100+ annually
- Business licenses: depends on country or state
- Insurance: $500+ annually depends on country or state
- Accounting: $200+ annually depends
- Contracts: Free of paid options available
- Online gallery: Free and paid option available
- Business cards: $15+
Additional expenses if needed:
- Training, workshops and classes
- Camera bags and straps
- Printed materials for marketing
- Studio and office space
Different cameras and lenses you must know about
Beginner cameras / lenses:
- Canon 80d – 24.2MP, 7fps shooting, DSLR, APS-C sensor, Canon EF and EF-S lens mount
- Sony A7 II – 24.3MP, 5fps shooting, Mirror less, Full Frame sensor, Sony E-lens mount, IBIS
- Nikon 7200 – 24.2MP, 6fps shooting, DSLR, APS-C sensor, Nikon F-lens mount
Intermediate cameras / lenses:
- Canon 6d II – 26.2MP, 6.5fps shooting, DSLR, Full Frame sensor, Canon EF-lens mount
- Sony A7R – 42MP, 10fps shooting, Mirrorless, Full Frame sensor, Sony E-lens mount
- Nikon Z6 – 24.5MP, 12fps shooting, Mirrorless, CMOS Sensor, Nikon Z-lens mount
Advanced cameras / lenses:
- Canon 5D IV – 30.4MP, 30fps shooting, DSLR, Full-Frame sensor, Canon EF-lens mount
- Sony A7S II – 12.2MP, 5fps shooting, Mirrorless, Full-frame sensor, Sony E-lens mount
- Nikon Z7 – 47.7MP, 9fps shooting, Mirrorless, CMOS Sensor, Nikon Z-lens mount
We have succeeded in telling you about all the different categories of photography you can get started with and also what it will cost you and everything else you need to start, it is now time to look at the step by step process you will take to succeed in your photography business.
To help you find your photography anchor, we have prepared this guide and we have been able to come up with the following ingredients for success. So very importantly, before you buy your camera, you must be willing to go through with this processes committedly and religiously:
- Get a Business name/write a Business Plan
Your photography business should be treated like every other business. It is very important that you get your business registered. The structure of your business depends on you, as you can decide if you want a sole proprietor or limited liability. However, the business structure will determine the type of funding you will be able to access, if you want funding for your business.
You may have to seek legal advice in deciding the structure for the business. Now that you have your business registered, the next step is to write a business plan. It will make no sense if you are embarking on a business, without knowing the direction you and the business are headed. So as a serious entrepreneur, there is need for you to organise your thoughts on paper, as this will serve as your road-map.
This road-map should be able to capture details like, what your business is, how it will be profitable, cash-flow, expenses, competition, ownership, funding, target audience, etc.
Creating a business plan may be a difficult task if you are just starting out, but there are many free photography business plan samples online you can download or you can reach out to these guys on https://www.biab.com.ng they will be willing to help.
- Secure funds for your photography business
We outlined the estimated budget that will help you get started in your photography business, by all indications, you have already noticed there are costs attached. But if you have enough money saved up, you may not need to source for additional funds or borrow any money.
But depending on the position you are in, you may ask family members or friends for help. Other forms of funding available to you will be bank loans, grants, business credit cards, or equipment finance loans. You can check with local banks and other lending organisations or state agencies to see what loans you qualify for or grants available for small business owners.
- Acquire Professional Experience
Starting a professional photography business is different from taking random pictures with your smart phone. As a professional photography business owner, you will have to show your prospective clients what you can do, and one of the easiest way to acquire this experience is to work with a professional photographer, as this will help you build a portfolio.
Though there are many videos you can watch online about taking professional photographs, it is very important that you practically work with a professional photography if you don’t have the skills already, before getting started in your photography business.
After you have acquired the skills, you should then consider your target audience and build a portfolio, so you will be able to show them your recent works, when they start trooping into your business.
Here are my favourite places you can learn and develop your skills:
- The Bite Shot
- We Eat Together
- Mango Street
- Come up with a pricing plan
How quickly your photography business will become profitable will depend on the number of clients you have and how much you charge for your services. So the big question is how much will you charge for your services?
You should be able to figure out how much you are worth per hour for instance and use that to price your services accordingly. You should bear in mind that your job as a photographer is beyond taking a shot, but also editing.
For instance, for every hour you spend shooting, you may spend another two hours editing, that becomes three hours, so this should guide you in charging for your services. As a new business owner, you should have a pricing strategy that will either help you break into the market or that will help you build up a client base.
- Build a website
We can definitely say that your photography business at this stage is taking shape. You have registered your business, you have come up with a detailed business plan, you have acquired the necessary professional skills and you have also come up with your pricing list. The next step is to build a website for your business.
These days you don’t have to break a bank to build a website. Simple buy a domain name, as there are many free website templates out there like wix.com or storefront you can start with. If you want something more impressive you can reach out to https://www.biab.com.ng, they will offer you something within budget.
The aim of your website will be to showcase your work, as that will attract clients, with your gallery organised into categories. Your website should also carry your contact information and your pricing details. The about us page of your website, should give details about your background and experience.
- Create your own brand
Your brand is as good as your business. Photography is a visual business, so you must create visibility for your business by creating a very strong brand.
So you must set yourself apart from others, based on your chosen niche, you may decide to focus on wedding pictures or maternity shots for instance. According to Jason Marino “To attract customers you must carve out a brand and style.”
The question on your mind always should be, what makes me a unique photography business owner? Use the answer to the question to build a brand for your business.
- Market your Business
Nothing actually sells till you sell it, including your well “manicured” photography business. The success of your business will depend on your skills in marketing and selling your services.
The key to success in a photography business is marketing. You can’t just wait to take and get paid for photos, someone has to hire you, but who will hire you if they don’t know that you take pictures. So along with business cards, brochures and a website, you should use your personal and professional networks to spread the word about your business. You should also attend trade shows and events geared toward photography business. For example, if your niche is wedding photography, attend wedding shows. If you want to take pet portraits, attend dog shows.
You also have other options available. You can consider the followings as a more practical marketing guide
- Networking with friends, family and colleagues.
- Use Social media as a great promotional tool. So for instance, you can use Instagram to promote your business and Facebook might be helpful also if you create a page for your business.
- Google ads. You should advertise online to attract new clients, by buying keywords that will generate traffic to your website.
- You can find charities to work with and use their platform to get exposure to your business.
- Join groups, clubs and forums
- Start referral program
- Use email marketing
- Start a blog and pull traffic
- Enter photo contests
We promised to provide value with all our write ups, so aside making money from your clients, we have compiled a list of sites where you can sell your pictures online. So if you just want to run a professional photo studio and attend to need of clients or you simply want to take pictures and sell them online, we have it all covered. So along with getting paid to take professional photos, the following sites will allow you to buy or sell your photos.
Here are more resources that involve selling your photos for Instagram:
- Candidly Images
The advice provided in this guide should help you start your photography business and profit massively. We have tried as much as possible to offer you actionable tips that can help you whether you are still thinking about starting, or if your business is already active or you are about to launch!
While starting, it might be scary, but it will be worthwhile in the end, as things will get better if you learn more, improve and scale your photography business.
There will be no greater joy when the dollars start flowing in from the clicks of your camera. Who will not been happy in experiencing such joyous moments?
But you may never experience such moments, until you trust yourself, and take the little steps, that will eventually become the most important big steps.
Do you think we have offered you value with this guide? What are your thoughts concerning this guide? Do you have any business idea you want us to write about? Let us know in the comment section.