10 more unwise photo business tips
10 more unwise photo business tips
Business advice best for others (Pt.4)
Some time ago Keith compiled a collection of 50 rather poor business tips for working photographers.
Some may actually have a grain of truth in them or just be relevant to a very small proportion of people looking to build a profitable photography based business.
In this series of posts (5) Keith splits and revisits the original big list and offers his own reasons for saying they are likely bad ideas.
It’s important to note that these are related to the running of a sustainable (from a business POV) photography business that makes a profit.
Photo business tips to avoid (pt.4)
From ‘50 photo business tips‘
Every day, unknown photographers are getting big paying jobs via their Flickr/500px/IG/Facebook pages.
Yes – and every week people win money on the lottery.
Whilst it’s true that if no-one sees your work, you are unlikely to get people pay you for photography, you need to ask just how many relevant people will 1) see your photos and 2) decide to ask you to do some work for them.
‘Likes’ and ‘followers’ have limited capacity to pay your household bills.
If you do want to get your photos seen, find out where the people who want to see them are. Even better, find out where the people who pay for such photos are…
Fame will pay the bills – get your work ‘out there’.
Almost all successful photographers got where they are through hard work and business acumen (maybe someone else helped with this).
A bit of luck may have helped, but experience over the years suggests that such ‘luck’ more often comes to the well prepared.
SEO – don’t worry about it, your pictures should speak for themselves.
Assuming you have a web site for your business, and it’s not just a vanity gallery, it really helps for potential customers to be able to find it.
That sounds obvious, but I regularly see photographer’s sites that have done nothing to enhance their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and still think that nice pictures will do the job for them.
There are lots of web resources to give you the basic knowledge, but be very careful if anyone asks you to pay for SEO services.
Whilst there are many reputable web development companies that do things the right way, there are many that don’t. Be very wary if your web designer outsources SEO work too, since I’ve come across situations where the work has been further outsourced to some very suspect companies.
If you do pay – ask for specific and regular details about how things are getting better, and how this information is gathered and verified.
Advertise – it’s the new customers that matter the most.
A new customer/client is a good thing and you should carefully look at how you advertise your services, particularly once you start paying for it.
However, many businesses fail to look at their previous customers, or even keep in contact with them.
There are three basic ways to make more money
- Get more customers
- Get them to buy more for any one job
- Get them to come back to you more often
It turns out that the first is by far the most work and cost – that’s why advertising is something to be used with care and a close analysis of whether it’s working.
BTW if you see any other photographer’s adverts in my articles, that suggests their advertising is not exactly well targeted, given my likely audience for the content…
Marketing works best if carried out at the same time every year.
Only if that same time is every day.
Little and often is the key – I know it’s not easy, but try things like creating a marketing calendar which you fill out every month.
Now it’s all digital, not much is changing in the business of photography. Find a niche that works and stick to it.
If only… like many areas the pace of change accelerates.
The basics of taking a photo may still be the same but you need to develop and adapt your business to what the market wants.
Many business models may come and go, they may have no affect on what you do, or they could signify a complete change.
A niche can be great and set apart your work from others, but you need to be wary of anything that could render your specialism irrelevant.
Try lots of different advertising formats – covering all the bases is vital, since there is no way of knowing what works.
Advertising can be an important part of your business.
What advertising providers love are client who haven’t a clue about what they are doing, who just pay for services, because they think it’s a good idea.
You need to have a plan in place to monitor advertising spend -and- return.
Be particularly skeptical towards social media experts who change the subject when asked about relevance and -real- return on investment. Don’t forget to put a value on your time spent on various social media networks – half an hour a day on Twitter/Instagram that brings you one new client in a year is a rather expensive ad campaign…
There are lots of business trade directories, that don’t charge much – no-one ever uses Google these days.
Paid directories used to be a big thing – no-one used them then.
There may however be one or two specialist directories that are used in your specialist area – why not ask your clients if they use any?
The business side of things is really just about getting your accounts prepared.
No, it’s about ensuring that the business will thrive and grow.
This partly comes from a lot of photographers thinking that the business side of things is subservient to their creative function. No, in many ways it’s more important, it’s one reason that Karen looks after a lot of Northlight’s business and marketing. I know that whilst I’ll get it done, it’s not something I relish, and she has worked in the area for many years.
If you don’t have such an option you need to plan and organise to get things done.
Cashflow is something for accountants to worry about.
Cashflow is the lifeblood of your business.
Quite a few working photographer will admit to having forgot to invoice clients at some time.
Many more will recount difficulties in getting payments on time.
What I find helps are to have procedures for dealing with the mechanics of invoicing, clear terms and conditions, and a willingness to chase up non-payers.
We charge up-front for my training courses and have strict “no pay -no use” clauses for photography.
In other areas you might want to look at charging deposits and booking fees – it can feel a bit awkward to ask for money, but that’s why you are in business?
To be concluded next week
Business related articles (50+) are listed on the Photo-business page.
Some specific articles that may be of interest:
- Will it sell? - I'm often asked about selling prints
- Photography - making a living from it?
- When to turn down work
- Marketing for photographers - 5 'M's
These are other articles on our site...
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