What Photography Task Are You Doing Every Day?

18 05 2011

So you want to be a full time photographer – what have you done in the past week?

Human nature has us doing the things we love, and avoiding the things we don’t.

If we hate sales, we’ll let the customer control the entire buying process.

If we hate networking, we’ll wait around for the phone to ring.

The trouble is, as a business owner, you can’t wait for things to happen, or you won’t be in business for very long. You have to control the situation, and make sure everything comes to you.

So my question to you is, “what have you done in the past week?”

To find out, take out a notebook and record everything you do this coming week. Don’t leave anything out. Even if it seems trivial, write it down. You may find things like:

  • answering email – 30 minutes
  • shopping for camera equipment – 60 minutes
  • surfing websites – 60 minutes
  • photoshopping sample photographs – 50 minutes
  • talking on phone – 45 minutes
  • buying office supplies – 50 minutes

· and so on

Now that you have your list, what does it say about your business? Are you doing things to grow your business, or just plain busy work?

While you do have to spend time on the above mentioned items, if your entire week looks like that, you’re not accomplishing goals that will grow your business. You should have things like:

  • networking function – 90 minutes
  • mailing postcards – 45 minutes
  • cold calling – 30 minutes
  • blogging and Twittering – 30 minutes per day
  • trade show booth – 1 day

Most of your time should be devoted to revenue earning tasks – or your business will no longer exist in a mere few months.

Now that you’ve seen what you’ve been doing with your week, try and write goals for the following week. Change your tasks to revenue tasks – and stick with it. Your business will thank you.

10 Things You Never Want To Do With Your Online Photography Portfolio

11 05 2011

As a photographer, your most important marketing tool is your online photography portfolio. On your website or your blog, this is what’s going to showcase your work, and get you hired. Yet I see mistakes all the time. And I have a ton of questions like, “Why isn’t my site getting any traffic?” and “Why aren’t people contacting me online?” Here are 10 mistakes I see frequently – do you see yourself here?

1. Enter Page
Do you really need to divide up your site, and dedicate one whole page to making your visitors choose? If they type in your URL, they want to see your site. They want to start learning about you immediately, not have to decide if they want to visit your Flash site, Mobile site, Fast site, Slow site, Blog, Flickr portfolio, etc. Yes, you can weave things into your site, and have things on the side of your content that allows them to navigate elsewhere. But don’t make your first impression just a choice.

2. Photo Size
Have you ever gone to a photographer’s site, only to wait 30 seconds for it to load a huge file thousands of pixels in size? Boring. This is the web. You don’t need large files – the smaller the better for loading, and to protect you from clients downloading them to manipulate them. Stick to an image that is between 500-1000 pixels on the long edge, depending on how you are grouping them together. Read the rest of this entry »

Building Your Photography Business as an Amateur or a Professional

28 04 2011

One of the focuses of this blog is to help you build up a professional photography studio. For the most part, we focus on writing about the business and marketing side (with an occasional article on becoming a better photographer).

And through your comments on such posts as

The Pendulum Swing of Photography

Wedding Photography-It’s Not That Easy

Photography Studio – Going Out Of Business

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

I know you also agree there is a difference between the two. But how do you get the consumer to believe there is a difference? And more importantly, how do you get them to pay for the difference.

The first thing to keep in mind is there are always people that will pay for what they love. Some people love the idea of traveling, and will scrimp and save to be able to visit exotic locations every year. Some people love driving an expensive car, and will live in a small apartment, investing a high percentage of their monthly salary on their vehicle. And some people love memories, and will pay a professional very well to have an amazing portrait of their family every year.

No matter what type of photography you choose to specialize in, how many clients do you need to succeed? If you photograph weddings, how many per year will make you the income you desire? Or if you are a stock photographer, how many images do you have to sell every year? Knowing this number now will help you with your marketing in 2009. Reach out for this goal, and put it in perspective.

Next, you have to shoot as a professional. Take a serious look at your own work. Is it just an average portrait – potentially one they could even take in their own home with a good digital camera? Or is it something that makes them say WOW!

A true professional will be able to take images that you simply can’t get at home. They reach beyond the normal, and go for the WOW factor. They give their clients a little bit more. And they also give a complete package. Your client should never have to take their portrait to a frame shop – everything should be included, from beginning to end.

So with all of this in mind, what should your goals be for 2010?

1. Treat your business like a business. Establish yourself as a professional, and tell the world you are a professional photographer.

2. Create a complete customer service business. Provide everything from beginning to end. Include complete packages, including framing. (Maybe you even go in and install.) The idea is to be thorough in all you do.

3. Give 110%. You can’t expect your clients to pay for average – they want the WOW. Attend classes with mentors. Practice. Practice. Practice. Do everything you can to become the best you can be.

4. Teach your clients to see the difference. If you look like an image they can create at home, they won’t see the difference. And they won’t pay. But if you give them something they could never accomplish on their own – and could never get from another photographer – you can sell well.

Dreaming Big – Using Photography to Achieve it

27 04 2011

Wouldn’t it be nice to take the family to the Caribbean, and have your business write off the entire trip?

What about skiing in some of the best snow around (pick your place – The Rocky Mountains, The Swiss Alps) knowing your business is paying you to be there?

For many people, these dreams sound wonderful. They talk about doing it. They may even read a few things on how to do it. But when Monday rolls around, it’s back to the same old job, working with the same old tasks.

It doesn’t have to be that way. But you do have to put some effort into it. After all, dreams can’t come true if you don’t set goals to achieve your dreams.

Imagine you love traveling, and want to travel several months out of the year. Why not become a travel photographer? There are many sources that will pay you good money for images of destination locations. Every magazine needs quality images. Stock houses will pay well, once you become an excepted photographer.

Imagine you love weddings, and want to photograph weddings anywhere in the world. You can’t just put up a sentence on your website that says, “I’m a destination wedding photographer” and expect it to happen. You need to choose several destinations, and work at getting known in those locations. The more you’re “known”, the bigger you’ll become – and not just in your choice destinations.

Imagine you love fashion, and would love to photograph for magazines and catalogs. Take your first step, and find a small company to work with. Every business started out small, and needed just a few images for their first catalog (or magazine). I know the founders of two start-up magazines right here in Colorado – I’m sure you can find similar contacts in your area.

Take a few minutes and think about exactly what you would like to do. In your dreams, what would you like to be doing a year from now? Write it down! (Email me – I’d love to hear your dreams!)

Then take the next step, and do one thing that will help you make your dream a reality. It may be to choose a destination for your wedding photography services. It may be to book a trip to a resort in your community. It may be to join an association to get closer to catalog producers.

Remember the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither is your business. But you do need to take action towards your goal every day. When you complete one task, start in on another. When one task fails, try something new. Never give up!

Photography Startup Checklist

9 02 2011

Photography Startup Checklist

Starting The Business

  • Write out your business plan, including goalsTaking Notes
  • Set aside capital to use for start up costs
  • Name your business
  • Set up your business with your local government
  • Create an LLC or corporation, if appropriate
  • Get licenses and permits
  • Choose a location for your business
  • Buy photo equipment
  • Buy studio equipment

Designing Your Marketing and Branding

  • Create your logo and branding
  • Create business cards and stationery
  • Design a brochure
  • Create a website
  • Create a blog
  • Create sample photographs and albums

Choosing Your Vendors

  • Camera supplies
  • Lighting supplies
  • Backgrounds and prop suppliers
  • Framing suppliers
  • Album companies
  • Packaging for final purchases
  • Printers for marketing materials
  • Web designer
  • Professional lab
  • Shipping companies
  • Accountant/bookkeeper
  • Small business mentor and coachWedding Photography

Creating Packages

  • Choose your field
  • Choose a professional lab to determine pricing for photographs
  • Design your packages
  • Choose your pricing
  • Design your sales tools

Setting Up Your Office

  • Buy computer equipment and software
  • Purchase desks, cabinets, shelves, and files
  • Establish a business bank account
  • Set up your accounting system
  • Purchase office supplies
  • Get Internet service

Get An Education

  • Join a photography association
  • Take business classes
  • Hire a mentor
  • Read books
  • Stay on top of industry news

Finding Clients

  • Join associations, clubs and other networking groups
  • Advertise
  • Create a referral plan
  • Develop your website
  • Stay active online
  • Attend networking functions weekly

Build The Business

  • Hire virtual assistants
  • Hire production assistants
  • Hire employees
  • Hire an accountant
  • Pay taxes
  • Get insurance
  • Set up benefits, including retirement plans

Providing information for the individuals interested in starting a Photography Business and seasoned Professional Photographers.

Is There Really Too Much Competition To Start Up Another Photography Studio?

5 02 2011

Take a look through a bridal magazine, or visit a high blog post 061709 school senior fair. There are dozens of photographers vying for the attention of just a few new clients.

Photographers seem to exist everywhere these days. Because digital cameras seem to make shooting easier, more people are trying to turn it into a career. Or at least a second or third source of income.

So the question comes down to: Can you really make a good living at photography, or is there just not enough business to go around?

Let’s look at a few other industries for a moment.

Have you ever looked for a web designer? In addition to full time companies, you also compete with freelancers, part time designers, and all of the moms/dads/sisters/brothers/sons/daughters that have ever taken a web design class and think they have the ability to create a dynamic website.

Lets move to the law industry. There is one lawyer for every 264 people in the U.S. Add to it the number of do-it-yourself law kits through office supply stores, and websites like nololaw.com that offer contracts, wills, and other legal documentation for reduced fees. Can you really earn a great living as a lawyer?

What about Realtor? You can’t hit a networking group without running into a handful of them. Watch your mailbox, and you’re sure to get advertisements from a half dozen every week. And for the do-it-yourself crowd, you can sell easily on Craigslist, or with places like HelpUSell, do more of the work yourself and cut the sales commission down to next to nothing.

Yet in all these industries, I’ll bet you can quickly think of several examples in your area where people are making good money in the industry. I know a realtor that has been in business for over 30 years, and has dozens of listings today in the marketplace. I also know a lawyer that is one of the best in his areas of specialties, flies all over the country to meet with new clients, and can afford to be very selective about the cases he chooses to handle.

Starting up a business isn’t about how much competition you’re facing. It’s about how much passion you have. In every economy, in every neighborhood, there is always a way to make a new business work.

You have to be different. You have to provide something no one else can. You have to look at things just a little bit different.

Don’t copy. Pave your own path. And you’ll soon be at the top of your field, making what you deserve.

image source MeaganJean

5 Questions That Will Make You A Successful Photographer In 2011

14 12 2010

Thinking about the New Year? I know I am. I’ve been making plans for weeks now, and already have several great ideas lined up for the first couple of months.

Success doesn’t just happen; it’s created. And the more you plan for it, the more likely success will find you. Whether you have or have not started making plans for 2011, take a look at these 5 questions, and use it to move your business one step closer to success.

What do I want to accomplish in 2011?

If you’ve found yourself asking this question, writing down goals, and planning your first promotion for the New Year, you’re well on your way to success. You’re making plans instead of waiting for things to happen to you. If not, its time to do exactly that. Sit down and make your list of goals today.

How can I make 2011 better than 2010?

No matter how good (or bad) business was in 2010, there are always ways to improve. What would make your 2011 better? Would you move from part time to full time? Would you increase your sales by 20 percent? Would you book an additional 5 weddings? Stretch your mind, and take your goals as far as you can.

How can I improve my photography in 2011?

Planning on going to any conventions in 2011? WPPI will be coming up in a few short weeks – we’ve attended that one for years. Do a quick search online and you’ll find dozens of different training possibilities to help you improve your photography skills. And whether you’ve been photographing for 1 month or 50 years, there is always something new you can learn that will give you a new way to look through the lens of your camera.

How can I improve my business in 2011?

If you have your own studio, it isn’t enough to be great at photography. You also have to be great at business. Don’t just take in what you learn at a photography convention, open up to possibilities beyond photography. Can you take a marketing class from a marketing guru? How about read a book from a social media expert? Business rules don’t hold true within one industry; they can be used across the board in all fields. And it may give you an idea that no one else is using within the photographic community.

What can I do to help someone in a new way in 2011?

It’s the ol’ “givers gain” philosophy. The more you give, the more you get. Ask anyone that is truly successful how they give back and they will provide a host of ways they participate in the givers gain philosophy. They may tithe 10 percent of their income. They may belong to a charity and participate frequently. The important thing is they recognize that to be well rounded, and truly successful in every way, you have to share what you have in some way.

Helping your photography business, how to start a photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.