We started our photography business in 2009. That’s almost 11 years ago, but it seems like a lifetime, especially once we reminisce on all that’s happened.
And once we believe all the mistakes we’ve made, well, it feels more like two lifetimes!
But mistakes are just wonderful little learning opportunities in disguise. And while we’ve had our justifiable share of screw-ups, we’ve been ready to learn and improve as a result.
So we’re getting to pull the curtains back, share plenty of our mistakes, and therefore the things we wish we had known once we were just getting started.
We learned these lessons the hard way.
Hopefully, by sharing them with you, you’ll be ready to avoid these mistakes, and have a smoother ride to success!
1. Learn To Shoot In Manual Mode directly
We shot our first year of weddings in Aperture Priority Mode. At the time, it appeared like the better option. But we’ve since realized that it had been actually making things harder on ourselves!
See, the importance of learning to shoot in manual mode isn’t because modes like Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority are useless. they will be a solid choices in certain situations.
The real value of manual mode shooting is in how it forces you to know what’s happening together with your camera, and therefore the light around you.
Learning this early will assist you get more control over your images, and improve your shooting skills quickly.
Another bonus is that manual mode also allows you to be more consistent in your exposures, which helps you save time together with your editing!
So this isn’t some photography snobbery here. Learning the way to shoot in manual mode goes to assist you during a ton of the way , and therefore the sooner you’ll find out how to try to to it, the more benefit you’ll see!
2. you’re Not Just A Photographer
When we got started we thought that if we had great photography skills, we’d have a successful business.
But that couldn’t be beyond the reality .
If you’re starting and running your own business, you would like to wear a baker’s dozen of hats.
You are a photographer/customer service expert/book keeper/marketing director/social media whiz/branding dude/website creation person/secretary/treasurer/CEO/CFO/ and just about the other title you’ll consider .
The sooner you realize that you’re getting to got to become good at tons of various things, the earlier you’ll start improving at all of them .
Great photography skills are important, don’t get me wrong. But you would like to possess tons of other ones if you’re getting to make a business out of it!
3. twiddling my thumbs
This is a lesson we still need to remind ourselves of continually.
When we first got started, we figured we’d have a wildly successful business rolling within a year.
Fast forward 6 years, and that we still didn’t feel we quite got there.
It takes time to urge good at photography. It takes time to urge good at marketing. It takes time to urge good at customer service. It takes time to urge good at business organization…
Basically, it takes time to urge good at the handfuls of belongings you got to be good at to run a wildly successful photography business.
So don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t happening as fast as you expected.
If you persist with it, and keep improving, you’ll get there.
4. People Skills Are the foremost Important Skills
Photography may be a people business.
Even if you’re a landscape shooter, your clients are people. and therefore the better you’ll work with, and lookout of, the people you are doing business with, the more success you’ll see.
From that time on, we saw that the more effort we put into being great with people, the more success we had.
That book changed our business and our lives. i do know that seems like an exaggeration, but I promise it’s not.
5. Unnecessary Gear and Business Purchases are often Crippling
It’s very easy to urge caught within the never-ending cycle of shopping for things to “help your business”.
With photography, it’s even more dangerous because the purchases are fun and exciting!
It’s not hard to convince yourself that if you only had that better lens, you’d take better photos, and your business would be more successful.
I don’t even want to believe what proportion money we’ve wasted by buying gear that we didn’t actually need .
It all ended up collecting dust in our closet until we sold it for a significant loss.
After a couple of years of that nonsense, we got wise and began being very, very, very thoughtful about purchasing anything.
Our gear won’t get many jealous stares from other photographers, but as long as it’s creating the pictures we would like , that’s all that matters.
It’s an equivalent deal for business purchases. think twice before coitus interruptus that mastercard . It’s hard enough to form a solid profit with photography without huge expenses to affect .
6. Branding is vital, But Stationary isn’t
Along with our collection of rarely used equipment may be a BIG collection of outdated print materials. Brochures, packaging, and thousands (yes, thousands) of business cards. All of them are totally useless, and an enormous waste of cash and paper.
When it involves your branding, creating something personal, unique and consistent is super valuable. It helps you stand out from other photographers, and communicates who you’re .
But when it involves ordering branded printed products, take care . Don’t think that the large order will prevent money, because likelihood is that you won’t ever use it all.
This is very true near the beginning of your career, when you’ll potentially change your branding a few times before finding the proper fit.
Try to find ways to print smaller runs, or print on demand.
We’ve gone from ordering thousands of business cards, to printing out a few dozen at a time on our home printer. If you run out, then you recognize you’re actually using them, and may order a rather larger batch.
7. Get Outside Inspiration
When we first got into professional photography, we were wedding shooters. We spent countless hours watching the websites and blogs of other wedding photographers.
We spent plenty of time on forums with other wedding photographers. We read wedding magazines, and watched shows about weddings. We basically immersed ourselves completely therein world.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll definitely learn plenty from the people that share an equivalent profession as you. But if you don’t search for inspiration outside of that realm, you’ll end up just doing an equivalent as everyone else.
Great businesses and photographers don’t just do an equivalent . They find ways to face out!
As a photographer, the sources of inspiration are nearly endless, so don’t limit yourself to watching photographers who do an equivalent work as you.
Study the work of the good photographers of history, inspect the new work being made in several genres, examine painters, watch movies, flip through comic books — artistic inspiration is everywhere, so open yourself up to it!
The same goes for business inspiration. you’ll learn tons from internet marketers, copywriters, and just about anyone in business. After all, it’s all about helping your customers get value out of what you are doing . the top results differ, but the elemental concepts are more similar than you would possibly realize!
8. Referrals Are Essential
Word of mouth referrals are the foremost powerful sources of bookings for photographers. People are far more likely to trust the advice of a lover than a billboard during a magazine. you would like to be working hard to urge referrals.
At first, we didn’t realize that we actually had to encourage referrals. Sure, you’ll get some simply because folks wish to mention great companies. But many purchasers probably haven’t any idea just how valuable their referrals are to you!
There are many ways to encourage referrals. you’ll found out a proper referral program that rewards clients for sending new business your way. otherwise you can simply give them a stack of business cards along side their photos, and allow them to know just what proportion you appreciate them telling their friends about you. Or do both!!
However you are doing it, just don’t neglect those referrals. they’re going to be the backbone of your business!
(For more help with getting referrals, and a few recommendations on fixing a referral program, inspect our article Referral Programs: a simple , Affordable & Effective Marketing Plan)
9. Market Or Die
Does this sound familiar? you begin something up. A blog. A website. A business. You’re sure you’ve got an excellent idea, which it’ll be wildly successful. you create a stunning logo. You create a shocking online presence, crammed with witty writing and enticing images. You press publish, sit back, and await the inquiries and comments to pour in.
And then nothing happens.
It took us a loooong time to understand that, generally , nobody cares about what you’re doing. Unless you create them care about it.
And that, quite simply is what marketing is all about.
Showing folks that what you’re doing is interesting and valuable. you’ll have the foremost amazing photography within the world, but unless people realize it, you’ll not see any success.
So check out this manner .
Getting your business ready up with an internet site and name and logo and every one that stuff — that’s what gets you to the start line . Then the important work begins. you would like to urge out there and tell people about it, and market yourself!
Also read: Best DSLR Camera For Wedding Photography
10. Your List Is Crazy Valuable
One of the foremost valuable marketing assets you’ll create may be a newsletter list. lately it’s really ridiculously easy to send updates with emails, supplying you with an immediate link to your best customers!
We never put enough effort into building a newsletter list for our photography business, and have always regretted it. We just didn’t realize how important it had been .
A great list can assist you get more out of your marketing promotions, book sessions when you’re going out of town, get feedback on the way to improve your business, and more.
The sooner you begin building your list, the more it’ll grow, and therefore the more power it’ll have for your business.
11. Develop Off-Season Income
For many years we struggled with this one.
We’d have an excellent summer, shoot plenty of weddings, portraits, and therefore the money would be flowing. Then, come fall, things would hamper , and by winter it had been silent. there have been months with no income coming in, and things would be super tight by the time spring rolled around.
If you reside during a place where the shooting is seasonal, attempt to find out how to develop income year round. There are not any simple answers here, and it’ll really depend upon the sort of photography you are doing , and what other skills you’ve got . But if you’ll get even alittle stream of money flow within the off-season, it’ll make things much more comfortable.
For the record, this is often exactly how Photography Concentrate was born!! 🙂