If photography is your passion and your hobby, and you’re considering turning it into a professional engagement, now may be the best time to do it. Contemporary technology not only allows you a superb end-product at relatively affordable prices, but it also provides you with a variety of networking, marketing and monetizing options. Whether going all-in or treating it as a side gig, a professional and smart approach can allow you to establish yourself and find success as a home-based photographer. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a look at the current state of the playing field.
The lay of the land
Before making a single concrete step, you need to have a good hard look at the current business landscape. As we’ve said, technological advances have made professional photography easier than ever, but this has also significantly increased the pool of your competitors. There are countless other amateurs, semi-pro and professional photographers out there, and the numbers are growing by the hour. This should not discourage you, but it does mean that you will have to work hard to get noticed.
If you are willing to take the extra mile, there is a number of benefits in it. Photography is an excellent choice for a home-based business, as it allows you to be flexible with your time. It can start out as a side-job and gradually grow into a full-time professional affair as you expand your client base. Most importantly, you have a chance to get paid while doing what you enjoy.
On the other hand, this work is not for everyone, and before you go all in you must consider the potential downsides. Though more affordable than in the past, the equipment is still hardly cheap and requires constant maintenance and improvements. Additionally, dealing with clients can be tricky, and your working hours will be unpredictable and inconsistent, just as your income. Still, if you are set on turning your passion into a living, here are the basics you must cover in order to have a healthy foundation.
Find your niche
Before you get busy, you must first decide what type of photography you want to do. You may be a jack of all trades, well-versed in any type of photography, but even if that is the case, narrowing your focus to a specific niche or two will be immensely helpful in identifying your potential client base and figuring out how to approach it. Whether it’s portraits, wedding, stock, corporate, fashion photography, or any other segment, figure out what you want to do and stick to it. Once you establish a healthy client base you will be able to diversify and branch out if you wish.
Have a plan
A business plan may seem like a technicality that’s beyond your pay grade, but it all comes down to a lot of thought, some calculations, and common sense. Start with defining the scope of the services you’re offering. Consider your competition and figure out what is different about you and what will help you stand out. Think of your desired monthly/annual income from photography, and try to figure out what amount of work you’d have to do to reach that number. That will also help determine your pricing, although that will also depend on the prices of your competitors, your costs of equipment, supplies, travel, as well as the value you place on your time. Put all of it on paper and you will soon have a roadmap for your business.
Knowledge is power
Modern technologies continue to raise the expectations of the clients. Today, photography is not just about looking through the lens and clicking; it involves a broad skill set which includes editing and photo manipulation, design, marketing, and a variety of other general or niche-specific skills. It is essential for today’s photographers to gain and maintain comprehensive knowledge of their craft. Fortunately, there are many options available, from online tutorials to comprehensive educational programs. For instance, this current master in photography places the craft in the broader context of advertising, corporate communications, and business strategy. You are free to make your choices, but you can’t afford to lose a step and fall behind.
Mind your tools
This one may seem obvious, but the state of your professional gear needs to be considered beforehand. If you’re a photography enthusiast, chances are that you already own some equipment, but you will have to determine whether it is good enough for a professional service and whether you need any additional gear: lenses, flashes, editing software, lights, screens, perhaps even a studio. All of it costs a lot of money and has to be factored into the final equation.
Build a brand
People will have a hard time noticing your talent if you’re not getting any work. From the very start, think about how you will approach and address your potential client base. Developing your brand starts with a name and should be a natural extension of your chosen field of work. Once you figure out your attitude and your message, broadcast it! Set up a quality website with striking visual materials, make business cards, flyers and brochures. Networking will be a big part of your success, so spread the word among your contacts, get busy interacting on social media, attend industry-relevant events – in short, use all the available resources to let people know what you do.
If you cover all the basics and create a healthy foundation for your future work, you will be on the right path towards turning your hobby into a career.
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