If you’ve been hanging out long enough, you might be thinking I’m jumping the gun on this one…
“What is someone that’s been in industry for less than 1 year doing giving advice to others?!”
I totally get that. And I admit – I definitely don’t know it all. And personally, I don’t think there’s anyone out there that does. But over the last 8 months, I have learned some very valuable pieces of knowledge from a business perspective. And heck, what good is knowledge if it’s not being shared?!
I’d also like to put out a disclaimer that just because these have worked for me, may not mean that they’ll work well for you. Every single individual has different preferences and a unique process. If you’ve been doing it one way for the last x number of years and you’re rocking it, that’s totally cool! These are just the things that I feel have allowed for a smooth entry into the biz. They let me focus on growth and refining my craft. WIN!
So here they are, 10 business tips for new photographers!
IMPLEMENT A SYSTEM
I’m a person that needs a process to thrive. I want to know the steps I need to take to get from point A, to point B, record those steps (like a road map) so that each time I need to get back to point “B”, I already have a heading.
If I don’t have this, things get hairy. I get overwhelmed and enter into panic mode. So I knew that when I first launched my business, I needed a process. To communicate with clients, get them booked, track their status, and send out galleries. So, I searched for something that would allow me to do this over and over again in the most efficient way possible.
It does all of this, and more. And over the last 8 months, has probably saved me more time and energy that I can fathom.
If you’re manually tracking projects & contracts, sending invoices and waiting for paper checks in the mail, I highly suggest you look into something like this! The monetary cost is nothing compared to the time it’ll save you.
I can’t imagine the stress that a maxed-out credit card would bring on top of trying to grow your business. Woofta, the thought makes me cringe.
Although it would be really fun to splurge on all of the lenses and equipment you’ve always dreamed of, it’s not smart. Nor is it necessary.
Until recently, I’ve had one camera body, and one lens. That’s it. And so far, they’ve done a pretty wonderful job! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need all of the best equipment right from the start to be successful. It’s a better idea to wait a little bit longer, save until you have the cash to pay for it, and then take pride in the satisfaction of knowing that you earned these things, and paid for them straight out of pocket!
STICK TO A CALENDAR
No matter how hard you try to convince yourself, you probably will not remember the “mental note” you just made. I know I won’t!
Life happens, things come up, unplanned plans happen, and it would be so easy to forget that you have a session coming up or a meeting scheduled. YIKES!
Keep yourself organized by using a calendar. And I mean USING a calendar! Not just downloading the app, only to be never used again.
Find one that is simple and reliable enough so that you become consistent about adding everything to it!
I recommend a Google Calendar! I use this on my phone, and it’s a life-saver. It actually syncs with your HoneyBook calendar, and then allows you to add your personal plans as well so you’re never overlapping or double-booking! It’s fabulous, and it’s FREE!
GET A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
I don’t think I could do what I do without the important people in my life that keep me going. I’ve had some tough days, and it’s so easy to fall into a black hole of negativity and doubt. Find people who will lift you up and keep you going.
Owning a business isn’t for the faint of heart. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Having people you can count on is so important, and I can’t recommend it enough.
BE BRAVE, AND PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
If you aren’t showcasing your work, nobody knows you exist. Posting to a blog and social media is the perfect way to share galleries, life updates, business advice, etc!
Also, you need to post often! Even if you aren’t shooting every weekend, it’s so crucial to post content so that your audience knows you’re still out there, doing awesome things.
My recommendation is to put together a list of topics that you can blog about and share outside of just sessions. That way, if you have some down time, you’re already armed with helpful material to continue serving your clients!
INVEST IN EDUCATION
I’m a big advocate of constantly refining your craft. There are always areas to be improved, experiences to be had, and new ways to serve your clients even better!
I’ve filled any down time I’ve had with education from some of the best in the biz; the ones who inspire and motivate me the most.
And don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t been cheap. I’ve put a good chunk of my personal finances towards becoming a better, more well-rounded photographer. But I don’t regret a single penny spent, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
If you’re not sure where to start (I get it – there are literally thousands of resources out there) I suggest Katelyn James and Amy & Jordan. I’ve taken courses from both of these teams, and I’m so glad I did.
DO ALL THE LEGAL STUFF
I know. It’s boring. But necessary. Take a day to do all the things recommended by all the photographers who wrote articles about “25 things I wish I known before starting my photography business“.
You’ll always find something in there about tax ID’s, LLC’s, setting up contracts, etc.
Learn from their mistakes, take my advice, and just do it!
RENT BEFORE YOU BUY
Borrowlenses.com has become my best friend. And for good reason! This site allows me to test-drive the gear I *think* I want to purchase without actually having to commit to it! It’s amazing, and saves me the stress of spending major bucks on equipment that I heard was a “must-have” but really doesn’t suit me and my style.
The process is easy – just choose the dates you want to rent it for, take it for a spin at your next session, and then drop it off at FedEx (for free)!
MANAGE YOUR MONEY
I tell you, the less money you have, the more particular you are about how you spend it. Getting a business off the ground is hard, and it takes a while to actually see something significant in your bank account.
But when your business is your baby, every penny you spend should be well thought out and justified. And most of the time, at least in the beginning, I encourage you to put the money you’re making back into your business to help it grow.
Invest in things that are going to help your future (good equipment, education, appropriate software, etc). You’ll find a full post here about organizational tools and resources that you might find helpful, as well!
This is a tough one for a lot of people, but if you can spend your money efficiently, I guarantee you will eventually reap the benefits.
TAKE TIME FOR YOU
Oh, this one is so important! And one that I’m still working at…
Though I’m not a rockstar at taking “down” time, I’ve made it a future goal. I eventually want to make it a priority to block off “me” days. I literally want to commandeer an entire day each week on my calendar and take time to rest, breath, and rejuvenate. Because it’s hard running a business, especially when you’re also working a day job full-time.
Personal time and life-balance is crucial to keep yourself going long-term.
So my advice? Take a day to kick up your feet, and do whatever you feel like! Your future, successful self will thank you.