Becoming a photographer and to make a living out of that is never easy. Yet, it is the dream for lots of people. People often has an impression that being a photographer is a cool job. You can play with those fancy cameras, going to exotic places, doing things that you enjoy doing. But it is never an easy path. There is some experience that I can share with you.
The importance of a portfolio site is often underrated. Yes, your photography skills are important but how to let your target customers know is even more important. Without getting your customers to buy in, that won’t be a sustainable business. A well designed portfolio site can help you attract the right customers. And it reflects your taste. If you haven’t already got a portfolio site, invest your time on learning how to build one. You can go to Squarespace, Wix for a out-of-the-box-ready site. Or if you want your site to be more customised, try WordPress and spend some money on a well designed template. For your information, Jack Visuals, my site, is also built under the WordPress framework. Read this to understand more why did we switch from Squarespace to WordPress.
We all have come through the time of spending hours editing a single picture, going back and forth and look for a font for our watermark. But you know that you only have limited time, and there are lots to do. Apart from shooting, you also need to deal with different enquiries, promoting your business, meeting with partners/vendors, post processing pictures, delivering pictures etc. Having a streamlined workflow is essential. Leverage different technologies to help you. For example, accounting software like waveapps to keep track of your income and expenditure. Payment gateway for your clients to pay online. Lightroom,
Capture One Pro to manage your ever expanding photo catalogue. Online album like Smug Smug , Zenfolio to deliver your pictures. Think about that before you start any project.
As a newbie in this industry, you need to gain experience. Of course, you can join different workshop, read lots of photography books, read article like this one to improve your knowledge. However, the best way is to practise more. I highly recommend aspiring photographer not to care too much about their rate. Seize every job opportunity and gain experience. I understand everyone has bills to pay. But the reality is if you set the price too high, no customer is going to hire you. A competitive pricing strategy is helpful for you to gain more customers and gradually build up your career.
Now, you have a great website, you have a competitive price and you have attracted customers calling you. But all will be a waste if you can’t close the deal. It is easy to get traffic to your site, it is easy to get them calling you, but closing the deal is hard. You need to be able to sell face to face or over the phone. It is an art. Try to recall last time when you walked in a shop, what made you purchase the stuff there? How did the sales close the deal with you? I recommend reading the books
if you are still struggling on that. You better learn this skill early, this is a crucial skill.
That’s what the customer ultimately need. You can deliver so-so pictures, albums and your customer will still accept that. But if you can deliver great results, you will have returned customers and referrals. No matter what business you are in, it is always hard to get new customers. In fact, studies show that the cost to acquire a new customer is 4 to 10 times more than keep an existing one. So you should always target to have returned customers and referrals. Build your brand and deliver solid and great results!