You have a passion for photography and want to turn your passion into a full-time gig. But, how do you begin a business while working a 9-5 and then, of course, there’s the topic of limited funds.
Here’s a secret for you…
You can build a photography business from scratch. It’ll require dedication to using your time wisely, knowing where to spend money vs. where to save it, and a dose of you really want to make this happen mindset.
In today’s blog I’m sharing 10 steps on how to start your photography business scratch. Let me know what you think in the comments and where you are within your business goals.
1. Buy a Camera
Remember to buy what you can afford or save up.
Do not go into debt buying your equipment. This is a mistake that I see way too often. I share my recommended gear for beginning photographers here. As your business grows and you bring in money, you can set a percentage of sales from each session to save up for your ideal equipment.
2. Learn How to Use Your Camera in Manual Mode
Start with an online course like Amy & Jordan’s Shooting and Editing course (which I am a huge fan of!). But if you can’t afford it yet then watch some YouTube videos until you get the hang of it.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Get comfortable with the manual settings on your camera. Operating your camera should become second nature to you. Practice during different times of the day to learn how to work with all types of lighting.
4. Start using Lightroom for Your Eiting
Lightroom is a piece of Adobe software and is highly affordable for photographers at any stage in business which is why I recommend you start using Lightroom right from the beginning of launching your photography business. Just eliminate a trip or two to Starbucks each month and you’ve paid for your Lightroom subscription!
5. Practice Even More
It’s cliche, but practice makes perfect. Now that you’ve invested in Lightroom, find the style of editing that you enjoy most. What do you want people to think and feel when they see your images?
6. Offer to be an Assistant or Shadow a Photographer you Admire
Keep in mind that some photographers may charge for mentorship/shadowing and that’s okay. The lessons you learn from being an assistant and shadowing photographers you admire are second to none.
Try to get in the trenches as often as you can. You’ll learn valuable troubleshoot scenarios, how to work within fast-paced environments, and all types of weather.
7. Offer to Photograph Friends and Family for Free
Build your portfolio and get more practice by offering free photography sessions to friends and family.
There are several benefits here…. You’ll learn how to work with groups of people, how to give posing directions, and family and friends will be a-okay with you taking the time to learn how to adjust and try new camera settings.
And, of course, they’ll be sharing the images across their social media outlets highlighting that you are now offering photography services.
8. Decide what Type of Photography You Want to Offer
From portraits, weddings, branding, landscape, real estate, food, etc. there are SO many outlets of photography that you can offer. By niching down to 2-3 options, you’ll be able to focus on future education that highlights your photography specialties. You’ll be able to become an expert within those select offerings and better serve your clients!
A great way to find out what type of photography you want to offer, go back to step 7.
9. Set up Your Business Legally
It’s really risky to be charging for photographs until your business is legal and insured. It’s hard to start saving up for those costs without an income – I get it! But as you start bringing in money, setting up the legalities of your business should be your number one priority.
So keep saving up until you can afford it. There’s no rush and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
10. Create a Business Plan
A business plan is like a roadmap for your business. When creating a business plan you’ll map out marketing strategies (both free and paid options), highlight your target audience, set short term and long term goals for your business, and so much more for your business.
By crafting a business plan, it forces you to think long-term about your business while providing small action steps in the meantime to lead up to those heftier business goals.