So, you’re thinking of becoming a photographer some time?

A few things to do now – before you start your business

So, you’re sharing photos in Flickr or on Google+ and you’re toying with the idea of taking up photography for a living some time?

I’ve written about some of the business mistakes that people are likely to make when setting up their photography business, but what about things that in a few years you might wish you’d done now?

laser cutting of metal parts

Make sure you have text - even something short, such as explaining that this is an infra-red laser cutter working on titanium aircraft parts, part of our industrial photography business.

I’d suggest you start looking at a web site of your own?

It really doesn’t have to be much to start, but when in a few years you might want to use it more, the fact that it’s not a new site will mean you do a lot better in search engines, which equals more chances for work.

Note this does -not- mean a blogger account or a facebook page, or an account with one of the big photo sharing/hosting companies.

It means a real domain – .co.uk or .com or whatever works where you are.

I know that everyone talks of  ‘new paradigms’ and other web 3.0 wonders, but in the real world, the one that you are going to inhabit with your business, it’s going to be about selling a ‘product’ to customers (call it your ‘artistic vision’ if you like, until you have to actually make money)

If you’re planning a photography business, a real business, then having hundreds/thousands of photos on Flickr counts for very little.

Make sure you have plenty of text in parts of it and avoid the use of Flash where possible – I know that some designers really balk at this, but put something like ‘commercial photography’ into Google and you’ll see why a simple approach worked well for us. The Northlight site was set up in 2002 before I decided to give up wearing a suit and take up photography full time. It has changed an awful lot over time, but it still counts that it’s nearly ten years old.

Pictures may be what you want to show, but text is what gets found, and if you are not found then no-one will see the pictures… Sorry if you’d rather be taking photos, but text is (and will continue to be) what gets found.

The ‘My pictures speak for me’ attitude is (IMHO) the height of ignorant conceit, when it come to promoting your business – come to think of it, I do heartily recommend it to my competitors ;-)

You are casting your work out into a sea of dross, you need need to stand out ;-)

When designing your site, start simple and look up info about doing your own SEO – it’s not rocket science. There is lots more on the web about ‘doing your own SEO’.

Little and often is the key to getting a site up the rankings – a blog with a few pictures and a bit of text every week is better than lots of new content every six months.  Make sure you get your own domain name too, xyphoto.someblogs.com gets ranking credit for someblogs.com, whilst xyphoto.com starts building it up for xyphoto.com

Oh and think of a name for your web domain that will still be useful in 10 years time :-)

…and remember, you are planning some things that may not come to fruition for many years – have a long term plan, even if just on the back of an envelope.