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Steps to Starting Your Own Business

Monday, October 15, 2018

At 7 pm, I checked out a wedding photography workshop at Canon, and it was basically about starting your own photography business. Photographer Ning Wong lists steps he took to start his own business, after he decided he needed a career change from a full-time Engineering job to a part-time freelancing and struggling Photographer hoping to become a full-time photographer. Most people don’t start their own business are scared of failure because most small businesses to fail. But everything requires a trial and error process in order to learn, grow, and improve. It is all about getting experience, networking, and growing.

  • Acknowledge your fears. Everyone has fears. But it is important to acknowledge fears, overcome fears by doing something about it, and making things happen.
  • Is this fear helping you achieve your desired goals or is it blocking you from pursuing your dreams?
  • Create worst case scenarios, but still hope for the best and do your best work.
  • Imagine what could actually happen if you did overcome your fears.
  • Photography is a very competitive field. There are over 4000 photographers in Orange County California.  The barriers to entry into this field is very low. It is therefore to stand out from others. Start by making a list about what separates you from other photographers. In 2017, photography is a $56 billion industry from 2 million weddings in one year. The average amount of money you can make is $26,000/year.
  • There is instability in starting a business.
  • No steady paycheck. You might need to create a budget.
  • You might not get any support from family or friends. Write a business plan, and treat this venture as a real full-time business. Actually, starting your own business requires more work and hours than a full-time job. You are likely to think about your business 24/7, including in your dreams.
  • You might fear that you just aren’t good enough. No one really is. There is always someone better than who you thought was the best. That is why it is always important to keep learning and improving yourself. Be realistic.

11 Steps to Building a Business

  • Create a Company Name. For example, mine might be Fifi Leigh Productions.
  • When you start your business, you will like be part-time and freelancer, but still hoping to reach the full-time status. Most photographers work on a part-time basis and during the weekends, and usually as a second job. But you should still treat this part-time freelance job as a real full-time job because it is more work than any full-time job.
  • If you aren’t getting enough bookings, then you will likely fear permanent full-time status. Keeping hustling for work, asking for referrals, and accept any photography job because it is all a part of getting more experience and opportunities in order to grow, learn, and improve.
  • Don’t get discouraged by social media because others are doing better than you.
  • Look for mentors who you can learn from.
  • Remain capable and confident. Remember that you are the expert in your field. Even if you aren’t, fake it until you make it. Practice a lot before the wedding or that particular job.
  • Many people will take advantage of you. You don’t have to take every job that comes your way. Pick that jobs that offer mutual benefits for all parties involved. Build your portfolio and client list. There are a lot of assholes in the world. Be careful who you work for or work with.
  • Outsourcing, is it for you? Let go of any fears. You might want to hire others who are better at work you are weak at, such as editing, second photographer, studio work, lighting, etc. Create an online presence. CloudSpot is a 3rd party service and Fundy.com is a designer site.
  • You might be worried that your final product results aren’t good enough. Remember you were hired for a reason. Deliver your work in person. It is all a learning experience.
  • Pricing might be low in the beginning, around $800 to $1200 per year. But eventually you can make around $4000 to $10,000 per year. A good starting price for a package is around $1000 to $2000, which will be your worst deal because it is very simple and basic. It is your bare minimum. The 2nd deal or package should be bigger, better, and you should introduce an extra incentive to make clients want this package. Your 3rd deal or package is the most expensive because it is a big package. Make it worth the money.
  • Calculating Price starts with knowing how much money you need per month. Then, know your costs by listing all your costs. Multiply totals hours by dollar per hour equals to costs. You can calculate the total hours by added consultation hours, wedding hours, and editing hours. As you work and gain experience, you might start to wonder when you will increase the price in order to make a profit. If you have been getting a lot of work in the past year, maybe consider increasing the price and adding an incentive. Experiment with different amounts and see what works best for you. Get feedback from your clients.
  • When starting you business, do things legally, which includes pay your taxes, write out contracts for everyone involved, get permits, and get insurance for your business and gear. Before you buy a new gear, ask yourself if you really need it. Don’t waste your money.
  • Education might come in many forms, such as college degree, internships, Canon Live Learning, Meetup.com photography workshops, mentors, and doing your own research and reading.
  • Backups: before you go on your assignments, have backups of gear, memory cards, shooters, and community.
  • Marketing involves staying active in your community and networking with others. It includes word of mouth referrals, sharing your work with others, do your best work at all times, ask for referrals, represent your brand well by dressing professionally, create a good reputation, and post 5-star reviews online. Treat others well by being fair and helping others. Market your work by posting it all over the internet. Consider Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites.
  • Community: join an internet community with people in the same field. Consider Facebook Groups, Meetup.com, classes, mixers, and just socialize.

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Written by Fifi Leigh

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