1. Research about Potential Clients in your Genre
Thinking about starting a photography business? Then you’re obviously clicking a lot of pictures already, and know your genre and its scope quite well. Conduct an online as well as offline research about the kind of clients you could aim for. Check out photography forums, review sites, etc. and see if there is a large or untapped market in your neighborhood, city or region. If demand in your genre is seasonal, plan what you will do in the off-season. Maybe conduct photography workshops? Or you could develop your photography skills in another related genre.
2. Speak to your Lawyer, Accountant and Tax Advisor
While your research is on, talk to your lawyer, accountant and tax consultant. Take their help to draft agreements if needed. Hire the accountant to keep your transaction records up-to-date. Check with the tax consultant on what forms you will need to fill and what records you will need so your tax payments and tax return filing happen on time and without hassles. No matter how uninteresting this aspect may seem to you, it is one of the pillars that will support your photography business in the years to come. Getting the commercial side of your business running smoothly will free you up to focus on the creative and technical aspects.
Once you know who your potential clients are, assess their needs and browse through and study the kind of images that appeal to them. Based on this insight, put together a set of photographs to make your professional portfolio. Your portfolio should ideally have 15-25 of your best photographs. Browse through online portfolios of top photographers in your niche to get a feel of what you need to come up with. Make a hard copy version and an electronic one and upload it on portfolio websites. If possible, append a short write-up to each image, describing the circumstances or situation surrounding its capture.
Some ways to market your business online are:
• Get listed in online directories like Photographers Index, The Photographer Directory, etc.
• Create a Facebook page for your business and upload samples of your work.
• Create a LinkedIn business page or personal page and build your network.
• Participate in LinkedIn group discussions actively to get more visibility.
• Join and actively participate in online photography communities.
• Answer photography related questions on Question-Answer portals.
• If time permits, create a self-hosted photo blog and update it twice a week.
• Once your business has taken off, build your professional website and link your to it.
These are just some ideas. There are many other options you can explore.
Once you get your business off the ground, there is no harm asking your past clients for referrals. You could also connect with your network of friends, family and neighbors and ask if they know someone who could need your services. It’s not just about getting more clients. The key is to maintain relationships by staying connected professionally even when they don’t need your services or have no referrals for you now.
As you become recognized as a talented photographer and word about you spreads, you could actually get flooded with inquiries from potential clients. That is when you need to go slow in promoting your business. Saying ‘Yes’ to all assignments is no doubt tempting, but it could result in the quality of your work suffering, especially if you do not have assistants to help you out on your shoots. One option at such times is to outsource post processing and focus only on the shoots. Sacrificing new opportunities to fulfill your existing commitments will only go down well with your clients and the good word about you will spread quickly.
Do you have any tip from your experience that you can share with our readers?
About the Author
Sachin Ghodke is a publishing pro with a passion for photography. He works as Senior Vice President with Powerweave Studio, an offshore digital solutions provider. With nearly two decades of experience in concept, design, pre-press and production, and a discerning photographer’s eye, he finds time to ride his motorcycle across the country.