Business Ideas For Mums: Photographer (Part 2)

This is the second part of Karen Gunton’s article on starting a photography business. Karen runs her own photography business www.smileplaylove.com and has a blog that helps mums start their own businesses called Build A Little Biz.

If you didn’t catch part one, you can read it here:  Business Ideas for Mums: Photographer (part 1).

START SMALL

Don’t go rushing out to name your biz, buy 1000 business cards, print out glossy flyers, and hire someone to build your website. (I can’t stress this enough, I wasted time on this stuff when I should have been mastering my skills, and ended up completely renaming and relaunching my biz later on, once I was producing professional quality work!)

Do your portfolio building by running your biz as a hobby under your own name. This will help you when it comes time for taxes, and will allow you time to think about the brand you want to build. Charge just enough to cover your printing costs with a little extra to put towards the equipment and supplies you need. Start sourcing out vendors to do your printing, and master the process for printing professional products. Once you are creating professional level products you can…

BUILD YOUR BIZ

Once you have mastered the skill required to do professional photography, and you have a good sense of your style and the type of photography business you want to run, start establishing your brand: your biz name, logo, colours, fonts, icons & designs, taglines and marketing materials. Don’t rush this, think about this stuff as you are portfolio building and really spend time creating a brand that will make you stand out among all of the other photographers out there.

BUILD A MARKETING PLAN

I do not recommend spending a fortune to create glossy flyers and printed marketing materials, at least at the start. The main things you need are business cards and a website that includes a blog. Further marketing materials can be added later as they become necessary. I find that I am constantly tweaking my pricing structure and adding to my product list so I now have letterhead that I can print out price lists and products list, and I get just small runs of flyers or other promotional materials printed as I need them.

My main source of promotion has been word-of-mouth, so establishing a client base that loves your work as you are portfolio building will really help you to make money as a photographer down the road. I also now get clients who have found me online (which is why a good website and blog are key!) and I have done some promotional events with mums groups, schools and kids markets.

BUILD YOUR PRODUCT & PRICE LIST

Pricing can be a tricky thing as it is tough to determine how much to charge for your ‘art’. There are many factors to consider: your cost of printing products, any overhead you have, your level of expertise, the value your customers get from your service, what other photographers are charging in your area, and the ideal client that you are marketing your biz too. You need to charge enough that you cover your costs, cover your taxes, cover the cost of upgrading equipment and doing further education, and enough to pay yourself after all of that.

Don’t sell yourself short and under-charge for your time and expertise. Undercharging also undervalues the photography industry in your area. Getting clients by being the cheapest photographer around isn’t sustainable – someone else can always come along and charge less. You need your clients to come back not because of your price but because of your product and service!

BUILD YOUR SESSION & SALES STRUCTURE

Some things to consider here are: Where are you going to hold your sessions and how long will you spend on each session? Will you meet with clients before hand or have a pre-session chat on the phone? Will you require a deposit in advance or payment at the time of session? Will you give clients an online viewing gallery, do an in-studio viewing and ordering session, or give clients a proof album or CD? How many edited photos will you show clients? Will you have a minimum spend for clients? Will you offer packages, sell digital files or do prints only? Will you have a time constraint for clients to place their order? Will you do follow up calls throughout the year, offer referral incentives, or do promotional events?

STAND OUT

I know I have already mentioned this but in a field that is quite saturated with just starting out mum photographers it is worth repeating. What are you going to do to stand out? This is going to come partly from your style and your brand, but really have a look at what is being offered in your area and think about what you can do that no one else is. Is there a niche you can tap that no one else is, is there a product you can offer that no one else offers, is there a business practice you can adopt that no one else has? This can make all the difference to the success of your biz!

I love to chat about having a little business and am very happy to offer any assistance I can. In fact I like talking about it so much I have started a second blog called Build A Little Biz where I share ideas with mums who are working on creating their own little biz. I especially love to talk about creating a stand out brand and share marketing ideas. My goal is to help other mums like me, so please feel free to send me an email buildalittlebiz@gmail.com if you have any questions. I am happy to help!

Thanks Karen!

If you’d like to start a business that fits around a family you’ll find my new book Start a Family Friendly Business really helpful. If you buy it from Amazon this Friday you’ll be able to download a pack of bonuses too, including e-book and a podcast.

Business Ideas For Mums: Photographer (Part 1)

I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger, Karen Gunton. Karen runs her own photography business www.smileplaylove.com, in Adelaide, Australia, which is a very long way from where I live in England!

We met (virtually) because we both own blogs that help mums start businesses – Karen’s is called Build A Little Biz and is great, so do go take a look. Karen also has a fabulous Facebook page where she answers questions and starts great discussions about being a business mum.

Hi there! My name is Karen – I am a stay at home mum of two girls age 5 & 2 and I have a little photography business which I run from home: www.smileplaylove.com

My journey into the world of being a work at home mum started when I had my first baby and I got into doing digital scrapbooking. I was a complete amateur photographer but I got very skilled at using Photoshop to create fun and unique ‘pages’ with my photos. For my daughter’s 3rd birthday I took some professional style photos using my point-and-shoot camera and used my ‘scrapbook style’ to turn those photos into beautiful portraits including her name, age and sweet quotes that made me smile. That was the moment the idea for a photography business was born.

My friends asked me to do that for their kids and soon their friends were asking me what I charged. I had very little knowledge of the mechanics of photography at that time, but people liked what I did with the photos so I decided to give it a go. I always had a feeling that photography was in my blood; once I gave myself permission to pursue the idea of a photography business I felt energized and excited. It has taken two years to build my photography from a hobby, through the portfolio building stage, to where I am at now, running a professional children and family photography business. (I started this journey the same month my second child was born, and started basically from scratch. Depending on your skill set and the time you have available it may not take you as long as it took me!)

Photography is a great business for a stay at home mum – you can do it from home or at any location in your city, and if you already have a camera and photo editing software there is very little start up cost. Right now there are heaps of mums out there that are attempting to start a photography business. They have been told (like I was) that they take cute photos of kids. That, plus the availability of affordable dSLR cameras means that every other mum seems to want to start a photography business. I definitely recommend going for it, but there are some things you need to do if you want to start a biz that will have long term success, and stand out amongst the crowd of mummy photographers.

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

It is not enough to take ‘cute photos of kids’. Cameras are so good these days just about anyone can achieve that. What you need to do is take amazing photos every single time of every subject that hires you (not just your own children), you need to have the ability to interact confidently with your subjects and you need to be able to create something that is of a professional quality. The best way to get good enough to charge professional rates is to practice. A lot. Do free sessions for friends to build your portfolio and don’t charge for your work until every image you produce is of a very high standard.

LEARN BOTH PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS AND PHOTO-EDITING SKILLS

If you want your photos to be the highest professional quality you need to master both of these things. Take courses either in person or online and find groups and forums that will help you learn and master these skills. Some free ones that I love are: the forum I Love Photography http://ilovephotography.com/, the facebook group Photographing Children http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=13514981755&ref=ts and the blog MCP Actions http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/

DEFINE YOUR STYLE

Figure out what type of photography you are going to do (babies, families, pets, teens, school photos, weddings, boudoir etc.) what style you will have (modern, traditional, candid, romantic & dreamy, photojournalistic etc.) and how you are going to do your sessions (set up a studio, do locations only, go into people’s homes etc.). Again, this will come with all of that practice, but it is really important to figure this out. Don’t try to be all things at once. Figure out what you love to do and then master it.

If you’d like to start a business that fits around a family you’ll find my new book Start a Family Friendly Business really helpful. If you buy it from Amazon this Friday you’ll be able to download a pack of bonuses too, including e-book and a podcast.

Click the link to go to part 2 of ‘Business Ideas For Mums: Photographer’