When you first start a business, no matter how big or small, there are some realizations you come to along the way that can be shocking, jarring, or downright exciting. These are all things on your journey to becoming a pro photographer that we have to start to identify and recognize. We sat down with Snapizzi’s CEO Randy del a Fuente and began to realize that your photography business isn’t always what it seems.
Your business is your baby. Not meant literally, of course, but we can all agree that when we start our own photography business we get wrapped up in its success because that also starts to measure our own. It’s about time we took a little pressure off of ourselves and untether the umbilical cord attaching us so closely to our business while still knowing that it is alive. It’s alive, breathing and growing right before your eyes.
Instead of linking your business to a baby, let’s think of it as a plant. You have planted the seeds and are waiting patiently for sprouts to rise. This is when you start gaining your income and client base. It’s not big but it’s there and we can, and should, begin to cultivate it in this stage, but that’s where some of us lack. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been told already, it is said that in a photography business, only about 20 percent of your time is spent actually taking photos. The other 80 percent is spent doing, you guessed it, the business. Spoiler alert, you will never be able to reap what you sow with your plants if you aren’t focusing on the soil around it. Yes, that’s the dirty stuff but it has to be done.
There are a few easy steps you can take right now that will significantly help your plant (and photography business) start to grow and blossom.
1. Keep Learning
There is no excuse for you to have questions going unanswered. Not in this day and age. We have powerful resources at our fingertips and a gigantic community of photographers going through the same things we are. Everyone starts with a small seed, so find ways to learn from other people on how they got to where they are and how you can aim in that direction. If you spend some time learning now, it will bring success later on in your career.
2. Work Out Your Work Flow
This is one of the hardest things that photographers do in their business. What is the process that you follow when you get a new client? Write it down, start to finish. Don’t worry about the little details but take the time to identify what you see yourself doing as a process and how to make sure that process is efficient and acceptable. You can even take it a step smaller. What is your process from the photos on your camera to the client? Finding ways to learn about your own processes will help expedite them in the future and allow us to identify where we may be lacking.
3. Know Your Numbers
Start looking into your numbers. Don’t go too crazy because this part can be very overwhelming, but most photographers put in hours and hours in one area of marketing to grow their business but never find out if it’s working. Test some new trials, ask for responses, check in and get feedback about what you’re already doing to inform your future business on what direction it needs to be headed in. You can’t have too much or too little water for your plant and finding out how it does with this much or that much water is crucial in identifying how best it will grow.
4. Leggo Your Ego
This goes back to your business being such a huge part of you. It’s true, we are tied to our photography and sometimes business is our weakness but after we do the first three steps, you must do number four to take real strides forward. Write your processes out and see where you are least efficient. Then, find a way to either learn to be more efficient or ask for help. “But it’s my business, no one can do it like I can!” All photographers can agree with you there. At some point, the gardener next door who is really great at watering the plants just right might need to be called in for help. As your business grows you are going to need help taking care of it. When you plant gets too large or reaps too much fruit, you will need help harvesting or replanting or just doing the watering. It can be a small task, but if it’s an area you need to improve in, then take out your ego and find a way.
The photography business is unlike any other. It’s built by a highly creative person and those are the people who other creatives learn from. Open up your network and get your questions answered. There are experts in the field who wouldn’t call themselves experts because they don’t know it all yet. You are starting from the same square. You don’t know what you don’t know but you need to take steps to identify that and know more! And don’t worry, in addition to business, your plant still needs love and care to grow too.