Tips for Starting a Photography Business

Start your photography business out on the right foot with these five success tips.

photographer taking model's photo

Taking beautiful photographs will only take you so far when it comes to starting a photography business. If you're really going to succeed you're going to need to become a great business person. You need to polish up your professional skills and be ready to compete with other photographers, who not only have talent and artistic vision but also that competitive edge and business know-how.

Five Things to Do When Starting Your Photography Business

Here are some practical things to consider when starting your photography business:

1. Differentiate yourself from the competition

Research the marketplace and find your niche. Choose to focus your photography business in a type of photography at which you excel or in some untapped area of the market.

2. Write your business plan

Writing a business plan is a good idea when starting any small business. Are you good at handling the administrative end of things, or will you eventually need to hire help? What will your pricing be like? How will you finance your business? What will your fixed costs be, and what costs can be passed onto your clients? Making some of these decisions up front will be extremely helpful in the long run, even if your business plan grows and changes along the way.

3. Make it legal

Get your business license. Make sure you have a workspace and any necessary permits you may need to operate your business in that location. Set up a bank account for your photography business. It's also not a bad idea to get some insurance.

4. Get equipment and supplies

When buying the necessary equipment, keep your priorities in mind. Figure out what pieces will be essential to your photography business and invest in high-quality items. For equipment that is less important, or that you'll use infrequently, you can buy at lower cost or rent as you need it. You'll also want to find suppliers and set up vendor relationships.

5. Start networking

Marketing your photography business is going to be a key factor to your success. Look into professional organizations in your area. Establish connections in your community. Find out who your potential customers are and introduce yourself. Get the word out about your business. Keep your photography portfolio up to date so that you are ready to show prospective clients when they ask about your work.

Small business ownership can be exciting, but it's also a lot of work. It will take a commitment of time and money to get started. When you know that you're ready to take on the challenges of owning your own photography business, go for it! For more help getting started, check out the U.S. Small Business Administration's planning website: www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/