Consistent & Committed
If I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure when you pass the line of professional photographer. I'm sure there is many divided opinions out there, all I know is, be it Wedding Photography, Commercial Photography, Food Photography or Studio Photography it's not an overnight success.
Once you've mastered how to take awesome photographs you really have to be patient, it can take months or years to start to build a sustainable client base, so be prepared and committed. One of the key factors for me was to keep producing new content and publishing it on Social Media and my Blog. Starting out I was probably only shooting one Wedding a month, but I still managed to put new and relative content out there and connected with my audience.
One thing I can pass on is that consistency is key, my followers on Facebook expect new imagery on a daily basis whilst my email subscribers know they will receive a weekly update about the blog.
Make great Photographs, then look for profits
Everyone assumes once you become a professional photographer you will make a huge amount of money. I thought once I had a few weddings under my belt the sales would come but I realised you need to build up an audience, a very big audience. Once you have a big audience you can start to build up their trust with quality content, that audience will then start engaging and shouting about your business and photography. I also found other avenues to talk about my work, creating a blog provided me with another channel to talk about my photography and service and even leads to guest speaking work and mentoring.
Don't assume expensive kit is the answer
I will tread carefully here, as I am a firm believer you shouldn't be shooting a Wedding Professionally unless you have the correct equipment and back ups, but that doesn't necessarily mean most expensive. A huge mistake I see in budding Photographers is they go out, buy the most expensive DSLR and lenses and think they're ready to shoot a Wedding. Make sure you have firstly learnt your trade, be it with assisting or studying and practising photography. Look at alternative options such as renting photography equipment to keep your costs down at the beginning and build up experience.
Focus on Good Content
Less is more when starting out in photography, creating amazing photographs is the first step, newcomers put way too much effort into building a website and social media accounts and filling it with hundreds of below average photographs. Be honest with your audience, let them know your portfolio is growing, if you provide your audience with one amazing photograph every month it will be worth so much more to them than hundreds of photographs you have thrown on Facebook.
Don't be trapped by Dogma
It's very easy to copy other photographers' work, and try to replicate their images. That's not to say you shouldn't be surrounding yourself and your internet bookmarks with great photography & photographers. Take inspiration, don't just copy and paste. Like any successful creative they became a success because they create authentic work and new works different from what is already in the market.
Do you have any tips on climbing the ladder as a photographer? How did you start your business?