How To Start A Portrait Business – You’ve been using your Canon or Nikon DSLR for years, taking photos of all your friends’ kids, your family, and anything that inspires you. But now you are ready to take the plunge and start your own portrait photography business. Except there’s one problem: you have no idea how to run a photography business. The truth is, many photographers never went to business school. Some of them figured it out with the help of a trainer or a course or through good old fashioned trial and error. And some of them never got off the fighting bus and ended up dying their dream. Lucky you, because you just hit the jackpot!
I have outlined everything you need to know about running a profitable portrait photography business. It’s time for you to actually start making money doing what you love while still putting family first. Everything here was used to build a photography business model that generated $3 million in sales.
How To Start A Portrait Business
While there are several different types of photography business models, the two most commonly known are the “shoot and burn” and the “boutique business model.” I like to think of the shoot and burn model like a fast food restaurant. And the boutique business model is like a nice, sit-down restaurant. These two photography business models serve very different types (and quantities) of clients.
Episode 110: Are You Too Old To Start A Photography Business?
The Shoot and Burn business model focuses on providing affordable digital images to your clients while allowing you to pick up the camera and shoot the sessions all the time. Most photographers run a shoot and burn photography business, so there is a significantly larger pool of competition, but there are also more clients out there who want shoot and burn sessions. It is like a fast food restaurant because you are dealing with a large number of customers who value their service to be fast and inexpensive.
The boutique business model focuses on delighting your customers by creating something they can’t buy in a store – custom wall art for their home from the people and relationships they value. Not many photographers know about the boutique business model, which also means that there is much less competition with other photographers in the same area. It is like a sit-down restaurant because through every part of the process the photographer holds the hand of their client, providing the highest quality of service and helping them choose products they like.
When it comes to a boutique photography business, branding is EVERYTHING. This is how you attract the right customers, the ones who are excited by the idea of personalized art of their loved ones on the walls of their home. It’s how you can justify your premium prices and let the rest of the world know you’re worth every penny. It’s how you can take your marketing efforts so much further because you have a strong backbone behind you (your brand).
One of the easiest ways to design your brand is to be clear about what your target market is. Figure out who your ideal customer is. And not just their demographics, like a 30-50 year old married mom living in the Midwest with 2 kids making $125,000 a year. Sure, you may need to know these things as part of your “ideal avatar,” but you actually need to flesh out WAY more than just a few demographics. Start thinking about what a day in the life of your customer looks like. When does your client wake up? Where are they going to work? How do they spend their free time? Does it read People magazine? Watching Grey’s Anatomy? Go to yoga?
How To Start A Photography Business From Scratch
Finding your ideal customer goes beyond demographics and generalizations. After all, what does the age of 30 to 50, 2 children, married with a household income of $ 125, 000, driving an SUV really about the woman you are trying to achieve? When you understand more about the life of your ideal customer, you understand where, when and how to make real connections that actually mean something to your customers. A whole world of possibilities about how and where to connect opens up to you as a marketer, if you go deeper and understand exactly who your ideal customer is.
If you find that you’re having trouble connecting with your ideal client, it’s probably because you don’t understand what their life is really like. And if you don’t understand her life, you won’t connect with her on a level that will give her an exciting experience that she’ll be willing to pay more for AND tell her friends about.
So sit down now, and write out what a day in the life of your ideal portrait photography client looks like. And then look for places along the way where you can reach and try to form a meaningful connection with them. Then write down ten qualities you want your ideal portrait photography client to reflect in your photography business. What will make them “wow”? What will they remember about your photography business? What feeling will you leave them with after shooting their photography session?
If you are boutique, your photography products and packages will look different than what a shoot-and-burn photographer has to offer. Shoot-and-burn photographers offer digital files for a flat rate. They sell their time for money. But as a boutique photographer, your products and packages are high quality, and they are customized for your business. The reality is, there are tens if not hundreds of photographers in your area. So you have to offer products that differentiate you from them, and that reflect your quality.
Starting A Photography Business Checklist — Jordan Brittley
As a boutique photographer, you are not competing with the shoot-and-burn photographers because you will be selling something completely different from them. That is your competitive advantage. So, you will only sell physical products that excite your customers, get them talking, and they have never seen before. Sure, everyone has seen an 8x10p print. But, have they seen a 20 x 20 metal print with acrylic overlay? If you offer a different product mix, your photography will stand out from the Walgreens photo center. Sure, every photographer offers a 60-minute session. But they definitely don’t offer a leather-wrapped photo album with 15 pictures printed on art paper with torn edges?
The reality is, other shoot-and-burn photographers could copy your products if they really wanted to, but they won’t bring the same passion, creativity and customer experience that you want. They don’t have time to be high-touch with their customers, get to know them and deliver a unique experience every time. And, other shoot-and-burn photographers can’t afford the same quality of products as you. You will be using a premium photo lab to print your products, not the Walgreens Photo Center. I love using White House Custom Color for everything from albums to gallery wrap canvases. However, we have our own frames here in the studio, because, as I said, they are customized just for us.
The boutique experience is a two-way street. Clients are willing to pay so much more, but that’s because you’re willing to offer so much more with your boutique photography business. Think of it this way. If you go to a hotel, you can order room service, or you can microwave Lean Cuisine in your hotel room. Is room service more expensive? Yes. But you’re not just paying for the food, you’re paying for the fresh ingredients. You pay someone else to prepare the food for you, just the way you want it. You pay a smiling waiter to deliver the food to your door, so you never even have to leave your home to get a frozen meal from the store.
This level of service is what your boutique photography business experience should provide. Your clients don’t just pay you for your photography. They pay for the custom frames. They pay you to come into their home and help them decide where to hang their heirloom artwork. They pay you to hold their hand through the process. It’s your job to make them feel like they’re your favorite customer in the world. And in return, you get to work with high-end clients who love you and love what you do. They don’t call and complain, and they don’t try to bargain with you on price because they know you’re worth every penny.
Young Startup Business Woman Portrait, Lbured People Group In B Stock Photo
Many new photographers don’t know how to price their photography, but don’t be discouraged! Many photographers have been doing this for years and don’t know how to price their photography profitably. The most important thing to remember is that you can’t just guess at prices and throw the numbers together. You have to sit down and lay out all your costs. Then decide how much of a winning game you want to have.
In a simplified equation, you need to figure out the actual cost of labor and printing for your artwork, and then add
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