It is not as simple as creating a website and watching people book your service.
It takes a lot of time and effort to create another source of income that lasts for the long term. That’s why I’m going to break down my business plan for everyone to follow!
Luckily for you (and me), I know this business plan works.
The reason I know this is because I used this same plan to build my photography business at $ 40k / yr in California before moving to New Mexico.
It was easy?
Are you really going to grow your photography business to $ 40k / yr in six months?
1. Free work
Many people object to this, but it was the key to my success.
For about a year and a half, I did almost free work in the city of San Francisco. I expose my work and I accepted all the works that were given to me. From newborn photos to engagements and real estate, this gave me a chance to see what niche I wanted to enter.
I was able to build a very large portfolio by doing free work.
Would I have wanted to get paid for it?
Of course, but that’s not the point.
Even if you have a portfolio, I suggest you go out and work for free. Not only does it give you a lot of experience, but it will also make tons of invaluable connections.
I started by putting my name on Facebook. Some family friends responded by saying that they would love to take some photos!
At that time he was about 17 years old.
Then I started working for Airbnb for free.
Are you familiar with the experience side of the platform?
Otherwise, the experience side is where the locals create fun activities for tourists to do. The activities are meant to be unique and not a typical business that just tries to advertise its tour guide.
For me, I created an experience where I was walking with tourists on famous streets and taking photos of them in the process.
I looked for interesting facts about the locations so that it was also informative.
Being that I grew up in the area, it gave me an edge over the competition. I also gave them some gifts to remind them of the city.
At first my rate was very cheap and I was breaking even after paying for gas, parking (because good luck finding free parking in San Francisco), drinks and snacks, and gifts that reminded them of the city.
After about 10 incredible reviews, I raised my prices by $ 20.
Every few revisions, I would increase my prices a bit until I was happy with the price.
Honestly, I love hanging out with new people and showing them around. I also love photography, so I prefer to charge less and have more people come to my experience than to charge a lot and have only a few tourists a month.
I built a gigantic portfolio doing this job. Plus, I got to hang out with amazing people from all over the world!
2. Get on more platforms
Getting into more platforms is a great way to funnel customers to your landing page.
Your landing page is where you convert them from random people who only review your work to paying clients.
For me, the landing page was my website.
This does not mean that you have to spend a lot of money to build your own website.
For a long time, my landing page was actually my Instagram!
In the description, you would write “DM TO BOOK!”
Some platforms, like Yelp, will create a landing page for you.
It is important to access as many websites as you can.
By driving, I mean everyone I can control. It is very easy to forget about a portfolio that you created. If someone doesn’t get a response from you, they may leave a bad review. This is not what we want !!!
Here’s a list of 10 platforms you should be on:
- Yellow Pages
- Airbnb experiences
These are all great for advertising. Use them and really find out how to maximize each of them. They all operate differently.
3. Get reviews
Your goal should be to get as many reviews as possible.
One tactic I used was to tell the customer that I would add an additional 10 photos if they left me a review.
Most people do not decline this offer.
They are happy with more photos and you just increased your sales by getting rave reviews!
Another way to get reviews is by asking your family and friends to review your photo. It might not be the most honest thing if someone is leaving a fake review, but it will definitely get you started, especially if you’re having a hard time getting reviews.
A good review is not only given, it is earned. You must treat your clients as if they were your dear grandmother. Respect them and always work harder than you originally advertised.
Suppose you are taking a couple to a photo shoot where there are 10 unique photo locations within that area. Then tell them that they will receive 8 unique photos and deliver 10. People are always happy to receive more than they paid for.
How would you feel if you walked into a coffee shop and received a free croissant with your coffee? What you don’t know is that the cafeteria adjusted the price to fit the “free” croissant into your budget. For you, it’s an incredible gesture and it comes across as a good deal! You will most likely stop by that store if you ever fancy a coffee!
Your network is your net worth.
I believe 100% that I would not be in the position I am today if I had not built my network.
By going out and talking to people, I have made connections with great companies and made tons of friends who became clients.
Networking is also best done with companies within your specific photography niche.
Since I am in the wedding and engagement niche, I hit up tons of bridal shops and bakeries. A simple message like this will get you great responses:
It is important to write your message this way. Your message should be about how you can help them and not about how your business will benefit from it. When you meet in person, you can discuss how both of you will benefit.
I would also recommend creating a strategy for both of you to advertise for each other.
Don’t just walk into the meeting hoping they have ideas. People like confidence. Act like you’ve done this before and have other associations like this.
I created 5 “x 7” cards with samples of my work on them. I designed them to look beautiful and catch the eye of a bride looking for a dress in a cute bridal shop. On the card in bold, I put “20% DISCOUNT ON PHOTO + VIDEO”.
Most weddings are so expensive, so saving money is always important.
Then I adjust my rates to include this discount.
It is a great form of advertising and it will definitely increase your sales.
In addition, you will have more potential customers with the different stores recommending your service!
It is also very important to network with other photographers in your area. Get started sending direct messages or even make a few cold calls.
I kept yelling and got in touch with the top 10 photographers. I introduced myself and told them that I would love to help them if they needed it.
I did a second shoot for some weddings and met up with other photographers for coffee.
And listen to this.
A photographer was unable to attend the wedding he booked so he recommended me and gave me the job!
It was a $ 2,750 job!
It’s connections like this that will benefit you greatly.
This will take you from a business of less than $ 10k / year to a business of more than $ 100k / year.
Right now, you should be booking a few jobs a week. Maybe you’re in a job a week and that’s totally fine!
It is not a race.
Better to start slowly and build the base!
Most likely, you still have a full-time job or maybe just a part-time job. Either way, now is the time to start advertising.
Here’s the gold.
Where everything comes together and money begins to arrive.
Well, the money comes out at first, but then it starts coming in!
There are so many platforms to advertise on.
The funny thing is, they all work! The problem is that they all work differently. A successful Facebook ad may not work at all on Yelp or Instagram.
The key to success is testing the waters.
Now this will cost around $ 200 but it will be well worth it.
For example, in my experience, each yelp track will cost between $ 2-5. I charge $ 150 for a standard one hour photo session.
Once you get this part, it is worth spending $ 5 to land a new customer.
Now, is it worth investing a few hundred dollars to actually lower this hype?
Will you get it in your first round of advertising?
That is why it is important to take between $ 100 and $ 200 and test the waters.
What I don’t want you to do is go to Facebook and set your budget at $ 100 / day and spend all your money right away.
I usually set my limits at $ 10 per day and run a few ads with different photos and captions.
Leave it there for three or four days and then check the tests to see what happened.
Did one do better than the other?
Did they all work the same?
Did they all fail?
It’s pretty easy to adjust the ad text and create a different ad if they all failed.
I will delve into how I create my ads in another post.
Now is the perfect time to reinvest in yourself.
I should already be doing this, but I’ll clear it up now.
Don’t waste your money on nonsense or use it to go out on weekends. Use it to buy better equipment and improve your business.
People want the best. If you are always spending your money, then you are falling behind your competition.
Buy a new lens, a new tripod, or even a camera body.
Do you need a recommendation on what equipment to buy?
Send me a message or leave a comment and I will be happy to give you my opinion!
That sums up how I grew my photography business. These are the exact steps also in the same order.
I am also growing more and more each month.
Growth never stops. When I run out of time because I’m overbooked, I’ll just hire the job and pay the photographer by the hour.
Never stop growing people!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and belief. The content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for personal advice or professional advice on business, financial, legal or technical matters.
Micha ELa from the Philippines on April 27, 2020:
This shows that when you love what you are doing, it pays off in the end.
And yes, working for free is a way to boost one’s businesses online, so we shouldn’t shy away from that.