1. Charging For Your Work
This should go without saying, but there are many photographers just GIVING their work away. Sounds crazy, right? It is understandable when you are just starting out and need to build some sort of portfolio to get off the ground. What i find is that many would be photographers get stuck in that habit of continuing to give out their hard work and creativity for FREE. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where it is actually beneficial to forge a relationship with a future client by providing them a service pro bono. What i’m trying to say is, if it really doesn’t help you get ahead in your goals, your should never devalue your work by giving it away. This industry is very cost intensive, gear costs a small fortune, learning to use it proficiently takes time, and so does buying and using the software and rest of the hardware required to create beautiful images. Why should companies and individuals get free content on promises of “Great exposure” and “Could lead to future jobs”. IT SHOULDN’T, PERIOD. So give yourselves some credit and price your self out accordingly to what your time is worth!
2. Investing In Your Brand
One of the most important aspects of building and growing your photography business that is usually overlooked by new photographers trying to go out on their own. Spending money on advertising and marketing is so important. It doesn’t matter if you have some of the most beautiful photos out there; if you can’t connect with your clients you will just be a great photographer without clients. Social media marketing, getting out there and connecting with potential clients, advertising plans, are very important in establishing yourself. At first it may feel like a waste of time because you are focusing so much attention on something other than photography itself. However once those connections are made its just a matter or maintaining those connections and continuing the process.
3. Continue Education
When I say education, it doesn’t necessarily mean “formal” education. Regardless of your passion or your career, you should never stop learning. Keep up with new advances in camera tech as well as software to edit. The worst thing you can do is become complacent and think that you have mastered your craft. Continue evolving the techniques you use to shoot and edit, experimenting with new ways to improve what you already excel at as well as improving on what you are lacking. Now you can accomplish this by taking courses in a formal establishment of education [university, college]. Or you can assist other photographers that inspire you or take seminars by established photographers. There is a third option, if you don’t want to break the bank join a photography group on meetup.com and connect with other photographers in your area. You can always learn lots from fellow photographers that are probably facing many of the same issues you have or are. Plus it’s always good to know other photographers in your area!
4. Be Open To Constructive Criticism
Many photographers and artists alike have blinders on when it comes to the work they produce. Many have it stuck in their head that their work is great, having confidence is a good thing! However there are times when people won’t see what you see as the producer. Taking In criticisms of your work will only help you evolve as a photographer. Take a look at your work and compare it to someone else’s who has gotten rave reviews. What makes you work different or similar, what makes your work as good as the next photographer? I know sometimes it’s hard having to hear that that image you spent 3 hours on needs a revision or perhaps multiple revisions. The ability to adapt and learn from those situations are what will set you apart and improve your work. If you aren’t getting repeat clientele or any clientele at all perhaps that may be one of the reasons. Basically what I’m trying to say is don’t get all bent out of shape and butt hurt anytime someone doesn’t like your work, instead ask them why.
5. Get Out There And Get Those Clients
Many photographers I know, from newbies to I seasoned vets come to me from time to time to talk business. They ask how I go about getting new leads and booking new clients. My answer is always the same, if you want to get noticed and get those jobs you have to go out and get them. Complacency is the number one reason photographers fail! Regardless of how good their work is. Get out the and approach the clients you are looking for, engage them, build a rapport with them and always ask for the sale. This is where branding and being social are so important. Have up to date business cards and a relevant website to send these people to. Explain to them what type of person you are and how you work. Once they put a face to your company it’s personal. Make them relate to you and then follow up. When you meet someone that you are interested in pitching a project to. Follow up the next day with an email, thanking them for talking with you and try to set up a formal meeting for possible future endeavours. It’s not easy, but who said being self employed would be? So get out there and network the crap out of whatever you industry demographic is and make sure you always deliver what you say you will. Reputation goes a long way and word of mouth travels fast. For every job you book you can almost always rely on them for a referral to another company or person looking for the same thing. If you get turned down, don’t sweat it learn from what you did wrong and continue doing what you do. In the end perseverance is EVERYTHING!