Hanging A Shingle
Congratulations! You have entered the amazing world of photography, and better yet, you have now become a photography business owner. This means, that there are no longer the “cushions” of bi-weekly salaries, you are on your own and you have to make this produce sustainable and expendable income!
As in any business, big or small you must have a plan; not just a business plan. But, you have to create plans of leading marketing directives. Also, have plans on how you expect to deliver the professional products you advertise. So, you must create a plan to bring it all to life. Networking and developing relationships are key!
Better yet while keeping in mind that you are not doing this on your own, I will tell you a secret: there are so many resources, right in the place you operate your business (your neighborhood, town or city) and if you play your cards right and this is done well, it will help your business soar while lifting other businesses up during your path to success.
Understand, this will not happen overnight, you must be patient and have a strategy. You can launch a brand that you are proud of and really represents YOU!
Having A Strategy
As a business, there are various ways to compete (it is the nature of the beast) and I would say one thing about this: the true competition should be within your own structure, because you must focus on what you are doing for your business and not spending your energy worrying about what everyone else is doing.
That said, a few pieces of advice:
• Become an active member of your community. Join your Chamber of Commerce. Get to now your neighbors.
• Be kind – Maintain an open mind and be friendly with everyone, use the best of your abilities.
• Reach the right individuals – Get to know these business owners, make sure your services offer a good fit for their vision and their association is benevolent for you too.
• Team up within your industry, there will be a handful of photographers in the area, and not everyone will be pleased to know that you are offering likely services, but networking with the right creatives who have the same client in mind and are at the same level with your business plan will allow to cross refer services when booked and develop some have amazing relationships.
• Expand your market parameters, by traveling and being accessible – Be your best billboard. Tell others that you travel and keep fostering relationships while traveling for seminars, classes, assignments, conventions and such.
• Show your work, let it speak for itself and then let your work ethics speak for you!
• Make your clients happy and your clients will make YOU happy!
• Keep it simple and although not everyone will be on board: DO NOT give up
• One of my most important pieces of advice : Make referrals a GOAL!
I wish that when I took my “leap of faith,” I would have had the resources that are now so available to the new generation of photographers. Or, at least have had someone that would have been willing to shed some light on having the right networking opportunities with industry vendors. Again, this is the best time to do what you are doing!
I currently handle three divisions under my main business and they all cater to different clientele. Although, all are my favorites as they offer different opportunities and dynamics in photography, I enjoy weddings the most.
I will unveil and I will be very transparent about my advice (and I know that wedding photography isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine – we will use as a first example) – my wedding photography division has led me in the direction of knowing many professionals in the industry, not only locally but nationally.
That said, while working locally, I'm focused on teaming with fantastic and experienced vendors, and because I have seen their work ethic, I definitely want to refer them to my couples. This is important in order to maintain a standard of customer service with my clients. Nationally, I nourish my own vendor relationships. The ones who take care of me, my products and the services I offer my clients. These are very essential to my branding.
There are countless opportunities to be explored, but another best piece of advice is that you make sure you take care of your venues locally (if you are into event/wedding photography). Provide images as soon as you have photographs ready, like the same or the very next day. Don’t wait weeks to contact your venue coordinator to send them your work. Also, always remember while sharing your work on social media, make sure you mention their venue (spelling is super important) and highlight the beauty of their site. Keep in mind that other potential couples will see your work at that venue, and because you have experience with the venue you are more likely to be hired.
Networking Like You Mean Business
Make sure you invest on great marketing collateral because presentation matters. Distribute albums, canvases with creative images and real weddings. Remember be candid and honest about your intent in relationships. Always be kind and deliver on your promise, on time.
The same practice should be followed for your other industry vendors such as catering teams, floral and cake designers, as well as any entertainment professionals. Network! Support them anyway you can. Your fantastic images are your tools of your trade, and your relationships with selected venues and vendors will dictate the success of your business.
If your main focus is portrait photography, then make sure you associate with offices, groups and other community affiliations and always maintain an impressive portfolio at all times. Remember, first impressions are key!
For example, when you have appointment somewhere or even while you are out running errands and frequenting your local shoppes, make sure you speak to others about what you do, and carry your business cards with you. Always, find an opportunity to market yourself.
Lastly, never forget, those times when you feel a little limited. Just take a look at your surroundings and act. Seek the chances to keep developing relationships and your business!
Below, tell us what you do to develop relationships for your photography business. Share your thoughts about how having these local or national partnerships has helped you succeed.