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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 26 Sep 2014 (Friday) 01:20
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Looking for some inspiration for getting my business going

 
vanilli
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Sep 26, 2014 01:20 |  #1

I started my small firm last year, the whole time I have been doing it part time. At first I mostly shot dogs, people with dogs and kids/families.

Lately it's been more people/pregnant/some bigger family shoots and occasionally a wedding and some dogs.

It started okay with clients, then it went up and up but lately it's been going downhill and right now, I do not have 1 single booking! Auch.

Obviously I am doing something wrong but I don't know what. Giving 20% discount on bookings gave me 0. Paying for advertising on Facebook gave me more site likes but no bookings.
I tried going to a site for babies and wrote I needed some babies for a shooting, I need some more in my album - only 1 wrote me but she lives pretty far away. The shooting was for free but the images would cost a little, I wrote.
Exactly the same story when I was looking for some models for wedding portraits..


One thing I myself know I am doing wrong, are the lack of respond in posts in Facebook but I have no idea how to get people talking.
Guess I should advertise other places but it's so expensive and I'm not really sure where to do it.
I have a gift card coming up in an event which benefits people with cancer.


Have anyone tried something similar? How did you get back on track? Any advise are mostly welcome.

My site can be seen on whatupdog.dk (all text are in Danish). Maybe my prices are just to high.

I will change it a bit for better view, and thinking of including some happy mails from customers..




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Sep 26, 2014 03:26 |  #2

20% discount comes across as you were over charging by 20%. Discounting is bad for business.


Peter

  
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Alveric
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Sep 26, 2014 03:32 |  #3
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Or maybe your prices are too low.


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
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vanilli
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Sep 26, 2014 04:56 |  #4

You are probably right. No more discount.

I would rather work more and get a bigger client group than putting up the prices, were my thought.. Maybe that's wrong thinking. I have looked a lot at other sites and placed my prices according to that/my experience/I'm not an educated photographer.




  
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banquetbear
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Sep 26, 2014 05:22 as a reply to  @ Alveric's post |  #5

...a plan and persistence. Two big things you need to succeed as a business.

You shot mostly shot dogs, people with dogs and kids/families, then more people/pregnant/some bigger family shoots and occasionally a wedding and some dogs.

Was this your plan? To randomly drift from one market segment to another, then back again?

Figure out the best way for you to make money. Why dogs? Is it because you shoot dogs better than anyone else? Or because its a niche where you have unique access to a client base?

You might find it is wiser to focus on shooting a niche. Or after crunching the numbers you might find it better to shoot a range of things. The key is coming up with a gameplan, then sticking to the plan, making adjustments to the plan as required.

The second is persistence. When you start out in business most of us find that you will have bad days, bad weeks and bad months. You need to plan for the bad times, and have reserves to be able to survive till you get to the other end. Rejig your plan as required. But live to fight another day.

Also know when to quit. If the cashflow goes negative: you can only survive with no cash coming in for so long. Have an exit plan just in case.


www.bigmark.co.nzexternal link

  
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FerozeK
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Sep 26, 2014 06:44 |  #6

1) Ive always gotten more business when I increased my prices.

2) I dont get why you putting your baby portraits and dog pics on the same site, I would never get my nieces and nephews shot by the "dog guy" may sound unkind, but it is true.

3) U need targeted advertising, facebook is for people. You need to trawl the dog shows, pet shops, pet palours, breeders etc. Find out where they punt their services and market yourself there.

4) To generate a constant revenue stream you need a regular client base ordering monthly. You are not going to get that shooting one off portraits, but you might by offering your services to anybody in point 3 as part of their offerings, eg a dog palour might offer a spa package with a photo shoot.....be creative!!!




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Sep 26, 2014 07:13 |  #7

Okay so can you tell us why someone would hire you over hiring someone else? You have to know what you are selling before your clients can be expected to know what they are buying. What are your unique selling points? How do you stand out from the competition?

It looks like you don't know what you want to shoot and will shoot anything that comes along. What is your target market and how are you targeting them?

How are you advertising on facebook? Promoted posts, ads etc? What is the game plan in terms of converting impressions of you ads to sales? Do you have a targeted landing page for the ads? What are your calls to action? Do you have a sales funnel?

Facebook likes on their own are completely worthless unless you monetize them. People who promote their page with ads and posts just for likes are throwing money down the drain. The only thing those likes do is stroke their ego making them feel loved. To use facebook effectively you have to have a clear understanding of the process from the moment a potential client sees a post/advert all the way through to how that leads to an enquiry and sale. If you haven't worked out the process then you may as well just throw money on the fire and burn it. FWIW for every $100 I spend on facebook advertising I make over 25 times that back in sales.

Free clients are not clients... they are people you have decided to donate to by being a charity. One of the big mistakes people make is to thing that free jobs count as clients... they do not. Aside from that if you check any free ads site like craigslist or gumtree there are queues to the moon and back of people offering free shoots. Free is ZERO value. That is the value you assign to your work when you shoot for free. Unless you are building a portfolio shooting for free is business suicide. Likewise shooting at a discount places you with the people who charge less. Either charge what you need to charge to be sustainable or give up. Going under that point is a race to the bottom where everyone racing loses.

What is your marketing budget in terms of a percentage of projected turnover? How are you spending that budget? Have you done a marketing plan? What things that you have done so far have yielded results and what was the ROI on the spend?

Before you go any further with your business I'd be doing a business plan (which you should have done before you opened the doors as such).


Peter

  
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vanilli
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Sep 26, 2014 08:21 |  #8

Thank you loads for your replies. Much to think about.

It started with dogs but naturally families/kids with dogs came along and I do like shooting kids to, very much. In the beginning, I asked friends if it wasn't a bit strange, placing the dog business name on a kids portrait, but they didn't think so.
But maybe it is. And maybe I should divide my business up in 2, even though I get pretty nervous thinking about twice the work needed (advertising etc)!

And how do you actually do this, without loosing existing clients? You just let them all know, a new site have been opened?


To be honest, I hate advertising and all which I do know comes along, with a successful business. I hate spending hours reading on the internet, to try to figure out, how Facebook now works after latest change of algorithms.
Thats not an excuse, I know.

No business plan, no. I must admit I have absolutely no idea how to do this.


My adds on Facebook have been with popular posts/images, to make their friends see it. Sometimes that gives a new sale but I don't see clearly when and why.

People (kids/families) hire me because they like the natural images I do, most of my clients don't want images which looks posed, although they are very much.

Obviously I said yes, when people asked if I could do pictures of their family, in the beginning it often included a dog. People who just liked dogs or had on once, wrote me and explained, and wanted to book a shoot - without dog.

I like shooting people, and I feel I learn SOOO much. But I do feel the dog part are slipping away..


Dog people wanna spend money of their dog. But there are 2 kinds: its just a dog & its my all and everything. The last section should be my market but.. often they don't have so much money to spend, because they already pay for accessories, training, special food etc etc... I had many mails about "I really wanna to book you but I don't have the money". How do you reply to that?

I went for different training classes and for dog events, doing pictures and/or portraits (paid) but actually it haven't been as rewarding afterwards, as my stuff on Facebook has. NO idea why, as the pictures where good.
I had a (small) flow with looking for dogs for series - old dogs, studio portraits and more, but suddenly it stopped? People paid less than a 'normal' shooting, got less time for the shoot and got a reasonable amount of images included. I find it a little bit hard asking again, as I am unsure if people will reply positively. Nothing worse than an empty request hanging in the air, if you know what I mean.


I do not wanna give up or close my business, I love photographing way to much. So I guess its back to reading ;)

It makes a lot of sense, dividing the business in 2. And doing a much more narrow field.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Sep 26, 2014 08:29 |  #9

vanilli wrote in post #17178589 (external link)
I do not wanna give up or close my business, I love photographing way to much

The actual photography part will make up 20% of running a business (tops). You better love business too as that is where the lion's share of your time is going to be spent. If you don't like business and what it entails keep photography as a hobby instead.

The easiest way to lose the love of photography is to open a photography business. So many start a photography business because they love photography... you should start a business because you want to make money. Making money is the fundamental requirement for a business to exist. Passion for photography will only get you so far.


Peter

  
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FerozeK
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Sep 26, 2014 08:38 |  #10

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #17178609 (external link)
The actual photography part will make up 20% of running a business (tops)

Pay attention to this part, u wont getting a truer perspective or statement.....

I hate accounting, I just hired someone to do it for me.

U hate marketing or business, partner with a marketing manager......there are people out there who live to promote things.

U dont like doing the research....yet you asking why your current promotion strategy isnt working?????


I dont know how it works in your country but in South Africa you can approach the department of trade and industry and they will pay for your business plan, website and promotional material. They also offering a business mentorship program as do many of the provincial business chambers. Perhaps you have something similar in your country.




  
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Littlejon ­ Dsgn
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Sep 26, 2014 09:05 |  #11

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #17178609 (external link)
The actual photography part will make up 20% of running a business (tops). You better love business too as that is where the lion's share of your time is going to be spent. If you don't like business and what it entails keep photography as a hobby instead.

The easiest way to lose the love of photography is to open a photography business. So many start a photography business because they love photography... you should start a business because you want to make money. Making money is the fundamental requirement for a business to exist. Passion for photography will only get you so far.


So true, I love photography but even more so I LOVE running a business. I ran a drafting company before the market tanked and everyone and their brother was drafting for $7 an hour. Now I am starting the photography business. The idea of running your own business is the dream, however not everyone is cut out for it. You gotta love the business side of things just as much as the photography.




  
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ceegee
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Sep 26, 2014 09:08 |  #12

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #17178609 (external link)
The actual photography part will make up 20% of running a business (tops). You better love business too as that is where the lion's share of your time is going to be spent. If you don't like business and what it entails keep photography as a hobby instead.

The easiest way to lose the love of photography is to open a photography business. So many start a photography business because they love photography... you should start a business because you want to make money. Making money is the fundamental requirement for a business to exist. Passion for photography will only get you so far.

This. Absolutely.

You have to learn how to sell your business. To do that, you have to know what your business is. Portraits and weddings? Portraits only? Corporate? And who constitutes your target market?

Next, look at your competition. Who constitutes your target market? Who are your competitors? What do they charge? How does your work stack up against theirs?

Then you have to look at your pricing. What will the market take? How much do you want to earn? Are they compatible?

Then you have to get out and reach your target market. What do they read? Where do they go? What events do they attend?

Get a booth at a local trade fair (wedding fair at a local hotel, etc.). Do the occasional charity event and give out tons of business cards and fliers. Advertise in targeted media (electronic or otherwise). Etc.

Photography is a very competitive sector, and you can't just sit there and hope the customers will come; chances are, they won't. If you don't enjoy marketing, find someone who does, to help you out. Here in Canada, you can get teams of students from university MBA programs to draw up business plans free of charge, and prepare marketing campaigns. You just have to submit your project to the program director. They're always on the lookout for real-life cases to work on. Maybe something similar exists in your country?

But be aware that being in business is all about marketing. At some point, if you're serious about it, you're going to have to get involved.


Gear: Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24 f/4, Canon 24-105L f4, Canon 70-300L, Canon 60 macro f/2.8, Speedlite 580 EXII, 2x AB800

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vanilli
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Sep 26, 2014 11:28 |  #13

Okay okay, lol, of course I love making money too. Specially when doing photography.

My long term plan has always been doing this firm part time, take the education (photographer), afterwards going for full time. This would give me years to get better but still picking up clients along the way.


So far I have done it all by myself and I got somewhere - and now I just hit a wall, but your replies helps more than you know, which was exactly what I was looking for. Some fresh eyes, from someone who actually knows.

There defiantly must be courses about marketing etc for recent start up firms, that is a really good idea too.
I'll try right away searching for students, that would be awesome. I could learn a lot from that. Its not that I never want to touch this side of business, but when talking to a friend who works with this for a living, its a pretty huge field..

Very, very happy for your replies!




  
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Littlejon ­ Dsgn
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Sep 26, 2014 11:36 |  #14

vanilli wrote in post #17178893 (external link)
Okay okay, lol, of course I love making money too. Specially when doing photography.

My long term plan has always been doing this firm part time, take the education (photographer), afterwards going for full time. This would give me years to get better but still picking up clients along the way.


So far I have done it all by myself and I got somewhere - and now I just hit a wall, but your replies helps more than you know, which was exactly what I was looking for. Some fresh eyes, from someone who actually knows.

There defiantly must be courses about marketing etc for recent start up firms, that is a really good idea too.
I'll try right away searching for students, that would be awesome. I could learn a lot from that. Its not that I never want to touch this side of business, but when talking to a friend who works with this for a living, its a pretty huge field..

Very, very happy for your replies!

Not sure where you are located but a lot of our community colleges and adult degree schools have business and marketing classes.




  
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vanilli
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Sep 26, 2014 11:46 |  #15

Denmark :)




  
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