As a professional photographer, I have a lot of experience doing and handling the business side.
In this special episode, I’ll be answering the most common questions from photographers. If you want your questions answered, head over to this link and I’ll answer them next time in another special podcast episode.
Here are some of your questions when it comes to your photography business:
1. How to stop comparing myself to other photographers
We’ve all started at different times, and have different skills, aesthetics, circumstances, and personalities. Some might start off and be an instant success. Others have been photographing for years and have barely made any money.
If you’re creative, confident, social, a risk-taker, and a go-getter with savings, you might make things happen quickly. If you’re more skeptical about the future and you have a lot of commitments in your life, it might take longer – and that’s ok!
How to stop comparing yourself to others:
- You have to realize that we all come from different backgrounds. You shouldn’t expect or want to be the same as someone else. You have to find your own path and do things your way. After all, what has worked wonders for someone else might be a disaster for you.
- Understand that it doesn’t serve you to keep track of how and what everyone else is doing. You don’t need to know everything that everyone does.
- Yes, knowing about competitors and letting yourself be inspired might help. But what is working for someone else might be a terrible fit for you even if it may sound cool.
- Remember that we’re not all on the same path, and we’re not all going in the same direction.
There might be some people out there comparing themselves to you as well. They may be wondering when they’re going to be as good or accomplished as you.
2. What’s the process to finalize the booking?
Getting booked is one of the happiest moments for a photographer. The best advice I can give you is to have a contract ready. You also need to collect the information you need to secure a retainer payment right away.
Dragging this task out only increases the chance of something interfering with your booking. So my advice is to have everything set up before your meeting. Or even before your inquiries come rolling in. Get a good contract. There are tons of templates available. Make sure you have a payment or an invoicing system in place. And once the booking is made, send out a confirmation email right away. You should also give more information to welcome your new client.
If these kinds of tasks seem overwhelming to you, you can have them automated or outsourced.
3. How to build a sustainable business?
Having a sustainable business means that you’re doing the work you enjoy and it fits with your lifestyle. You make more money than you just need to get by. So that you’re prepared for ups and downs, pension, taxes, unexpected expenses, and the future. I also believe in not buying more stuff than you need and keeping a low environmental footprint. To me, that means less gear, fewer flights, less stuff basically, and more focus on the experience.
If you want to learn more about building a sustainable and lasting business that lets you thrive, sign up for the waitlist for the Sustainable Photography Program which opens again this fall.
4. What’s my favorite marketing trick?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is my favorite marketing trick. But for you, the answer might be something completely different. The right marketing platform for you is the one you can keep up with. Something you enjoy doing and something that is actually working for you. Here are some tips:
- Don’t depend on just one marketing strategy. Make sure that you set yourself up with at least two different streams of inquiries. Don’t focus on anymore until those two are working well for you.
- Don’t waste marketing opportunities on social media by targeting other photographers. Meaning, stop asking questions directed to other photographers on Instagram and stop sharing your gear. Your clients don’t care about that.
- Share things they want to know about. Show behind the scenes, but do it in a way that is directed to your clients, not towards photographers.
- Talk about how you can help your clients. Give them tips.
5. How to brand myself as a destination wedding photographer?
If you want to be a destination photographer, you have to create a brand that reflects that. You have to talk about it and share tips and photos. It also helps if your lifestyle already supports that.
It’s unlikely to get destination work if you only focus on local weddings. But that does NOT mean that you can’t use those photos.
You might want to be more selective in terms of what you share. Not to mention what you decide to write about in captions and on your website.
Do you want to take your local clients to other destinations with you? Or do you want clients from other places to come to you? Or to go places with them? It’s important to know who your target market is, and specifically, your dream client is. That way you can talk directly to them.
6. How can I leave my day job and be a full-time photographer?
This is the most asked question from photographers. But there is no easy answer to this. There are so many factors that come into play here. Having a part-time job can be freeing to some because they have a steady income and can focus on doing just what they love. It will feel easier to say “no” and charge appropriately, while to others it’s the opposite.
You’re still a photographer even though you have a job on the side. You don’t become better or more professional just because you don’t have another job as well.
Some want to play it very safe and don’t want to quit until they have all the bookings they need. Just so they can clearly see that this can replace their existing income. While others, like a bit of pressure. They will quit when they think they can do it if they just had more time to focus on their photography business. The following might help you:
- Make sure your prices are calculated. Not based on someone else, or what you think they should be, or what you think someone would pay. Calculate your expenses and figure out how much you want to work. So many quit their jobs before they know what it takes. And then they realize that they’re undercharging and are making a lot less money than they thought.
- Set up some different bank accounts to get organized.
- Get a mentor to make sure you know all the things that are involved in running a business full time.
- Set a deadline for when to quit and focus all your efforts on reaching that goal with all that entails. Be it booking goals, a buffer account, or a new website in place.
7. How to be a photographer in a new/foreign country where you don’t speak the language?
When you live in a foreign country, it can be especially hard to start up a business. This adds up to the fact that you don’t speak the local language. When I started my business, I lived in a different country. And I moved twice before I ended up where I live now. So I know the feeling of not having a network around you when you’re starting up. It’s not always easy. I did always know the language though which helps.
There are a few different ways to approach this:
- Get to know more people. Both people who speak your language and people who speak the language of the country you’re in.
- Maybe your niche is working with people who are immigrants like you. Or even those from the same country as you. You don’t have to have the majority as your target audience to make it because you don’t need to work with everyone. And if there is no one serving those people, you are probably in a stronger position. You can relate to them, if you can speak their native language, you naturally have something in common.
- Focus on building the network and learning the language. After making this mistake myself, I wouldn’t create a bilingual website. Or create marketing messages in multiple languages. It makes things confusing and extra hard. Stick to your dream client and serve them well. Once that is working smoothly, then you can consider adding on another language or a new service.
8. How to narrow down and find my ideal client without losing customers in the process?
Finding your dream client is one of the steps in the Sustainable Photography Program. It’s a really important piece, and the way I believe it works best is if all the steps work together.
Your dream client has to be:
- someone you enjoy working with.
- willing to pay what you ask.
- someone who would love to have what you offer
- attracted to your brand so you can draw them in through your marketing.
To actually find them, or create the profile of who they are, you can start by thinking about who you’ve worked with so far. Create your dream client profile.
Start by identifying who have you loved working with and who have you not loved working with. Write down why, and which traits you’ve enjoyed and not enjoyed. If you haven’t worked with a lot of clients yet, you can think about people you know.
You also want to think about where this person might be hanging out. Or what language they use, what interests they have, what their style is, and so on.
When you have a clear idea of who you want to work with, your marketing actually becomes easier. Not harder. Some people might not want to work with you. But some people ALWAYS feel that way. So you might as well work towards attracting people you want to work with, rather than just anyone. In which case you might actually be turning away people you do want to work with.
Having a photography business is both exciting and challenging. You may experience lots of mistakes along the way. But experiencing everything and going through the process makes it even more beautiful. You come out as a stronger photography business owner. Learn more about handling your photography business through the Sustainable Photography Program which opens this fall.
hi, i'm ingvild
This podcast is all about education and inspiration for photographers. A sustainable business is profitable and lasting. Instead of short-term wins you want to make sure you’re doing things that matter. Both to yourself, and to create the business you want. The goal of this podcast is that it will help you build and structure your business around your life, instead of the other way around.