Back in 2010 when I began my journey with 'Luke Holroyd Photography' I was juggling part time jobs to ensure my business kept on growing. Taking the step up to become a full time photographer was a huge transition for me and I am often asked how I did it. Unfortunately, there was no overnight secret for me, but here's a few tips that I used to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Budget your Income
As I mention regularly on this blog, the photography industry is very saturated, so it's very important to know you will have the work to support your business and lifestyle when you decide to take the leap.
Try and create a forecast of your incomings and outgoings for the next 12 months, ask yourself if it's enough and always plan for a couple of slow months.. I certainly prepare myself for late December into February as it's the quietest time for me.
Watch your Spending
Working for yourself and running your own business can be very stressful financially, so watching your expenses is a brilliant habit to begin with. I was never one of those people who shopped around for the best price, I quickly realised that to make my dream of running my own business a reality, I had to make sacrifices when it came to expenditure.
There are plenty of ways you can cut back expenses in a photography business. Work out if it is cheaper to buy or rent that new lens and take into account how much you will use it compared to the rental per day costs. Consider working from home until your business is stable enough to run a shop front or studio, I wrote a great article a few weeks ago on How I work from Home . Finally, it may not be everyone’s dream but manage how much your spending on your everyday lifestyle, those few Costa Coffees or evening Takeaways could cost you £20 a month, that’s over £200 a the year that could go towards that new lens?
Raise Your Price
In 2014 I raised my Wedding Photography prices from £500 to over £1000, back then the thought terrified me and I genuinely thought it could destroy my business. You must remember that running a business needs to be profitable and that isn't just the cost of your overheads vs your incoming invoices, you also need to consider your own hourly rate and look at the prices out there in the market.
I decided to raise my prices as each wedding, including the administration before, pre wedding shoots, the wedding day, editing, and more administration takes me 1-2 working weeks in full, not to mention my expenses such as camera gear, editing software, printing costs, packaging and much much more.
Finally, don't be scared about losing business if you raise your prices. In most cases as long as your photography is of a high standard, that price reflects your own value you see in your work and customers will see that. If you're like me you will want people to book you as they want you to photograph their Wedding, a reasonable price will reflect your professionalism and the business.
Know Your Business & Brand
You may be tempted to become a 'Jack of All Trades' Photographer and if you want a business that covers all genres of 'Photography' there is nothing wrong with that. Being open to all photography work or having a niche both have pro's and con's.
Exploring your niche and building a business around it certainly helps you structure your business, marketing and social media to a more targeted audience. You may consider splitting your business into categories. I run both my Wedding Photography and Commercial photography businesses using separate websites and marketing techniques to target both audiences.
Share and Blog Your Work
There are two key tools I use to get my work out there. First is social media, for me Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn provide me with useful platforms to share my work with my target audiences. Social Media is both a free and paid tool you should be using, but don't use it to push sales onto your audience, keep them updated with quality photographs, interact with comments and use a small percentage of your posts to sell your products.
Blogging your photographs is also a fantastic way to generate traffic back to your website, not to mention how beneficial platforms like Pinterest can be to help generate interest in your blogs. I blog every wedding I capture, and if you're looking to start a Photography business I would highly recommend Blogging and it's free.. Bonus!!
Networking was one of the biggest tools I maximised when starting my business and I still continue to network now. It's not only a fantastic way to reach new audiences in your community and gain trust, but also a brilliant way to build relationships and create a database of talented businesses and creatives in your area.
I recently wrote a blog post dedicated to Networking, if you want to find out more in-depth ideas for networking go and have a read.
Are you thinking about going from a part time to full time professional photographer? Do you have any expert tips to share on how you to the leap?