5 Tips for New Photography Businesses
This little ol' dream of mine, Leigh Fields Photography, has grown so much bigger than I ever anticipated. What started as a fun hobby has turned into something that people all over the country have lined up for, waiting for me to make my way to their area. So many of the photos I've taken hang in homes or lay in the pages of a beautiful heirloom album for people to enjoy. At Thanksgiving this year, I had two clients message me to tell me their wall spread was the center of attention for their family gathering. Let me tell you, that was a crazy experience.
I have much to learn still, but I have gained some key bits of knowledge that I wish I had when I began this journey. I thought I'd share those bits with the world in case there are any others like past-me roaming around these parts. With the new year rolling around and people feeling ready to launch, I thought now would be a good time to do just that.
1 – Invest in a mentor who knows what they're doing.
This is, by far, the most important thing I did for my business. I actually wish I did it before I invested in my equipment and just rented the equipment for awhile. There are so many educators out there who teach a whole lotta fluff, but the one who really helped me personally is Karinda Kinsler. Some day, I hope to jump into education, but I'm still learning a whole heck of a lot myself from her!
She has helped me serve my clients better, organize my pricing and finances to create a sustainable business, and make that voice inside my head confident. She taught me things I never even realized I needed to learn about the business side of photography. There are a lot of great coaches mentors out there so it's important to find the one that fits your needs, so I would recommend talking to the people they've coached or mentored to hear what they have to say before you invest.
2 – Find your business bestie(s).
Running a business involves a whole lotta highs and lows that make you second guess pretty much everything. My "business bestie" had actually already been my best friend for about a decade when we both decided to launch our businesses at the same time, together (New England peeps, check her out! -- Taylor Marie Images).
Without her to call when I have a tough client situation, or need to bounce ideas off of her, or counsel me when I'm too emotional to make the right business decision, I have no idea what I'd do. Find your crew. Very often, you will find those people from that first tip I gave! There are also a huge number of facebook groups out there for new and experienced photographers to mingle.
3 – Simplify everything.
Your average client is not going to be very well-versed in your business or the photography world. Simplify things as much as possible. For example: they'll be annoyed when you charge a travel fee, so just work it into your session fee. They won't have a clue whether to choose lustre or matte print, so pick the one you feel most confident in and offer just that. They don't care how much time you're there shooting, they just want to know you'll get the pictures they are dreaming of.
Decision fatigue is a real thing. Have you ever been faced with so many options that you have no idea what to do so you just kinda freeze? Simplify everything for your clients as much as possible. I actually only have one flat session fee and it makes conversations much smoother and lessens the opportunity for me to make errors in conversation or invoicing, too!
4 – Lay out your process.
Lay every single step of your client process out from the very first point of contact to the very last interaction you'll have. Have email/text/phone script templates ready to go for each client touchpoint. Know every single part of the process so that when your clients ask you something about it, you have the answer ready to go because it's the same for everyone. You'll spend less time scrambling and more time doing what you do best.
It's also important to do this so that as you grow and learn, you can look at your process holistically and insert, change, or remove anything about your messaging, branding, etc. that you need to without forgetting anything. You'd be surprised how much this will help you as set up shop and then grow and evolve your business.
5 – Find the right tools to help you.
This could be a whole other blog post in itself, but finding the right tools is so important. Here are just 3 that I use that make my life so much easier:
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This is where I keep track of all of my clients, communicate with them, collect payments, get contracts signed, etc. I would be a total mess without this. This is a crucial part of keeping my process the same for every client and not missing anything because I can set up automated emails and create templates for everything.
This is where my clients schedule time with me for an initial phone call for information as well as other touch points I have with my clients regularly. When someone books, it automatically puts an event on my Apple calendar with the client's information and reminds me when it's time to call.
This is how I work collaboratively with my business bestie as well as lay out my process and work out new ideas! It's like an online whiteboard where you can see other people's cursors and whatnot as they work. It's really great!