I am passionate about helping others start their own businesses which is what drove me to write this blog post. As someone who studied business in college, I am so excited to see when other entrepreneurs choose to start their own business and find ways to make it flourish. If you are starting your own business and still have questions after this blog post please feel free to reach out to me! I am happy to answer any questions you may have and encourgae you on this journey of starting your own business. I hope you enjoy this blog post on the ten steps to start a photography business.
2. Set up a banking account: The next step I took in starting my own business was to set up a banking account. You will need to show your bank your business license in order to set up a business banking account. My business account was free to open but they did require a 100 dollars to put into my checking account in order to start it. One recommendation I have is to get a checking and savings account for your business bank account. The checking should be for the money you are going to spend and the savings should be for all the money you are saving to pay your sales and income taxes. In my state, I save .35 percent of all that I make and put it straight into my savings account in order to pay my income taxes. This is just a small strategy so that you do not get to the end of the year and realize you spent your taxes money.
3. Hire a lawyer: This one is so important. I did not think I would ever need a lawyer but it is one of the best resources I now have. My lawyer has helped me write up my contract and make it secure. She has also helped me navigate through some difficult situations in my business. I literally am so thankful for her.
4. Hire an accountant: This one is very important. Dealing with taxes and owning your own business can become very overwhelming fast. My dad is an amazing accountant so I, of course, hired him right away when I started my own business three years ago. He helped me to realize how much I need to save for income taxes, helped me register for sales tax with the state board of equalization and even how to write up invoices. He also encouraged me to get a software to help with invoices, taxes and profit tracking. Last year I subscribed to an amazing accounting software called Dubsado. It is a monthly fee of $25.00 and it is more than worth it! I tried 7hats and other companies like that before this one and none of them compare to Dubsado. This program allows me to send out invoices, track my sessions, track my income, remind me of things to do and send out contracts. That is honestly what I do the most on that program but go check it out for yourself as it does way more than just that!
5. Business Insurance: I know I keep saying all of them are important but this one really is. I went without insurance for the first year and a half of my business because I had no idea how important it was. Now that I have had it for two years through State Farm I could not imagine not having it. My insurance covers if anyone gets hurt during a session (my contract also goes over this) and covers all of my gear (up to 15,000). I have dropped my camera once in three years but I am so thankful for my insurance for those freak accident days.
6. Upgrade Equipment: I highly recommend upgrading your equipment before launching your business. You do not need the best camera there is on the market but you should at least have a full frame camera, back up camera and two amazing lenses. You will need back up equipment just in case something fails on the shoot. (P.S. It is not a matter of if your equipment will fail you it is a matter of when).
7. Build Social Media Account: In the age of social media, you will need a presence on social media. It is important to get an Instagram and a Facebook. For the most part, if you are targeting the younger millennials your presence on Instagram will bring you more clients then Facebook as Facebook is used for the older generation mostly. I have a separate business account from my personal account as I want to be able to post the messy (not perfect) pictures on my personal account and the beautiful pictures that reflect my brand on my Instagram business account. It is totally up to you but I feel it is wise to seperate them. However, that being said you should still every once and a while post pictures of yourself on your business account so that your followers can get to know you more!
8. Build a website & build up your portfolio: A website is what shows potential clients that you are a credible artist. If you do not have a website it is a lot harder for clients to find you on google. It is also a lot harder for potential clients to see your prices, portfolio, style and about you in general.
One of the best investments in your business is to hire a designer to design a logo, brand yourself and build an amazing website. I had an amazing friend design my logo: Alyssa Luzaich Photography and an amazing website designer Ryan Moreno designed my website. I will be honest I did not have all of this from the start. I re-branded a year and a half into my business.
From the start, I had a WordPress blog connected to a ProPhoto template website. It was a good start for the beginning of my business (I only paid $200 tops) and got my old logo off Etsy but once I started to increase my profit I decided to put it back into my business.
In order to fill up your website with amazing pictures, you will need to build up your portfolio. This step takes time. It took me 6 months to build mine up but I honestly still do a couple creative sessions a year to help target my ideal clients. I set up sessions twice a week with friends and random couples I found on Instagram that I felt like matched what my ideal clients would be. It was a lot of hard work but I loved it. I even traveled a lot on my own dime to set up travel sessions so that I could really brand myself as a travel photographer.
9. Education: Make sure that you know your camera inside and out when you start your own business. I made sure to be able to shoot in manual mode and learned all of the settings before I started my own business. I also took some lightroom classes on creative live so that I knew how to edit as well. This bullet point is one that will always be present in your business. You will always be learning, always be taking workshops and always making mistakes (which is totally okay and will help you learn so much!).
10. Hustle on purpose! I am not going to lie this one is hard and will remain a constant in your own business. There is so much you can do to market to your ideal cliental so I am only going to name the biggest ones that come to mind for me.
1.Run social media ads
2.Make business cards and pass them out to potential clients, past clients, wedding vendors etc.
3. Put together a Senior Rep. shoot (if you need help on this one feel free to ask me for more details)
4. Organize styled bridal shoots.
5. Engage with your followers on Instagram- Go engage with people who are also not your followers too. You never know a like and comment can turn into a perfect connection.
6. Build up your SEO by blogging- SEO Plugins to your blog (MonsterIncPro- It is 31 a year right now).
7. Giveaways on Instagram.
8. Connect with other photographers (it is a great way to refer weddings/sessions to each other when you are booked up).
9. Reviews on your site!
10. Email List (One I am eventually going to start- this one comes highly recommended by most photographers!)