Statistics show that in 2019, there were approximately 121,000 employed photographers in the United States. This doesn’t include the number of freelance photographers or those who do it as a side hustle.
It’s not surprising that so many people are getting into the business of photography; after all, we live in a “pics, or it didn’t happen” time, and our new devices and gadgets make it possible for everyone to become good photographers if they study, practice, and work hard.
If you have always dreamed of opening a photography business, don’t let the overwhelming competition derail you. With the right skills and business acumen, there’s no reason why you can’t find success in this field. If you’re planning to launch a photography business in 2021, here are some essential pointers to remember to ensure its success.
Remember that we live in a post-pandemic world:
Our 2021 world is drastically different from our 2019 one. Whether we like it or not, we need to consider COVID-19 whenever we’re making any business move—perhaps even more so with photography since it requires interacting face-to-face with clients and customers. There are no two ways about it.
Here are some ways to ensure that you and your clients remain safe and healthy in a post-pandemic world:
- Don’t do pre-shoot meetings in person. Settle for Zoom meetings and video calls for now.
- Put health and safety measures in place—like strict mask-wearing and hand sanitizing for you and your team members. Ensure your client that you will keep a safe physical distance, too—unless you have to get closer for the shot.
- Be maniacal about keeping your gear clean and sanitized at all times.
- Consult with an experienced business lawyer to ask if the law allows you to stipulate in your contract that you won’t be held liable in the event of infections.
Get your digital ducks in order:
While many purists would rather live in the analog era, there’s no denying that the world is digital now. Thus photographers cannot do away with services like reliable photo cloud storage and a well-functioning website.
At a time when we’re discouraged from gathering in person, these digital tools are your best friends, and they’re the first things you need to think of when launching a photography business.
Refine your business plan and idea:
You most likely already have a business plan in mind, but COVID-19 changes many things, if not everything. You probably already have your heart set on opening a studio, but what if rent fees are astronomical and impossible to maintain right now?
You might have wanted to be a photographer for newborns and babies, but what if parents (understandably) don’t want to expose their little ones to outsiders right now?
The word “pivot” may be overused in the world of business right now, but pundits keep on mentioning it because it’s vital to the success of any small business. We need to adjust to wherever the wind blows and where we can make the most profit given our current circumstances. The best business owners can make the best out of any dire situation—even something like the COVID-19 crisis.
Observe which industries freelance photographers can book the most clients. Large-scale gatherings like concerts and conferences are out of the picture, but micro-weddings are still happening worldwide. Since the demand is low, the competition will be fierce, so ensure that you have a brand identity and a look to your photos that other photographers don’t possess.
Prioritize your online presence and ensure that your Instagram and website are always updated with your best work. Be smart about your hashtags, as well.
Consider other sources of income:
If, aside from being a good photographer, you also happen to be an excellent teacher or speaker, consider starting a YouTube channel or a Patreon on the side.
You can use it to give budding photographers tips on how to improve their skills without giving away your tricks of the trade. You can also consider holding paid Zoom classes where you can train people in the art of curating their Instagram feeds or how to color-grade pictures the right way.
You might be surprised how many people want to learn things like this and how many of them are willing to pay for content to help them do so.
Starting a business is always hard, but perhaps more so under our current conditions. Keep a steady eye on the prize, and don’t be too quick to give up. The world will heal at some point, and it will need excellent photographers once again. Be ready to book those clients once it does.
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