Four Common Mistakes that Photographers Make When Starting a New Business

You know something? Creating a website and earning money from it is one of the most appealing businesses to many. The reason is that the barriers of entry are almost non-existent.

You can purchase a web host, purchase a domain name and a good theme and that’s it. Your site will be up and running before you know it. This has drawn more and more people to create websites. However only a tiny percentage of them succeed.

Let’s focus our attention on photographers and photography based websites. Why do only a small number succeed? Because they make mistakes.

Image source: Olly18, Sending off ©

In this article I will explain the five common mistakes that photographers make when starting out with a new business.

1. Not being technically proficient

As I said, don’t expect to start a website and see clients (and thus cash) flowing in. It is not that simple.

Do you know how to run a website? How is it updated?

Do you know how to create and manage a Facebook page? Social media sites usually keep on updating their features. Will you have the dedication to stay in step with them?

Are you well versed with the jargon of a good camera? Do you know what is meant by a megapixel rating? What are ISO settings? What is meant by shutter lag? What about focal length?

Are you well versed with Photoshop? How much time do you take to do skin retouching on it? Can you change the background of an image in less than a minute?

There are many other such questions to consider. If you don’t know these things, I would suggest first learn them up before rushing to start your website.

2. Not knowing the costs involved

You can’t run your entire business virtually. I mean you can’t just start a website and manage everything from there.

You need to have an office, preferably far away from your home. Don’t think of converting your study room into your office. There will be a lot of distractions in home which will not allow you to work.

Additionally an office looks more professional and elegant. What if a client wishes to meet you? Yes you can meet him in a coffee shop but a good office will cast a better impression.

And if you are a photographer you will need to have a studio where you can shoot your subjects. Check out the rent of the places in the locations that interest you and see how much they charge.

Then you need to buy equipment – a good camera, a good computer, lenses, tripod stand, flash lights, reflectors, curtains, etc. Some photographers like to focus only on photography and dealing with clients while they hire assistants to help them with their website handling and social media strategies. If you are one of them you will, of course, have to pay your employees.

Add all the costs and see if you can afford. If not, wait and earn the required money before starting out your photography business.

3. Not knowing how much money you want to make

It is necessary that you know how much money you intend to make, especially when you are starting out, for two main reasons.

One reason is that obviously you have to pay your bills. If you are not making a decent income how will you sustain your website, your office, your employees and above all your family?

Second reason is that if you are not able to generate a decent income in, say, the first six months of your photography business, then perhaps it would be better to shift gears and change careers.

By the way Depositphotos is a website which allows photographers to make money by uploading and selling images. You might want to look at it as one source of your income.

As I said in the introduction only a tiny fraction of the people starting out on entrepreneurship journey succeed. It’s not for everyone.

Your earnings should be enough so that you may have a good house, a good car and a good life. If your photography business is unable to do that for you better quit it and do something else.

4. Not knowing the number of photo sessions you need to do

Yes I know this one is related to the point no. 3 above but here I will dig deeper into the finances.

Sit down and chart out a plan of action and keep a calculator by your side. Suppose you want to earn $25,000 per year from your photography business. Now this is directly dependent on your fees per session and the number of sessions you get.

Suppose you charge $500 per photo shoot. Dividing 25,000 by 500 I get 50. This means you will need to do 50 sessions per year in order to reach that income.

Dividing 50 by 12 I get 4.16 meaning you will need to do (roughly) four shoots per month or one shoot per week. These calculations may sound simple yet you will be surprised how many freelancers ignore these numbers. Don’t be one of them.

Creating a spreadsheet or maintaining a written record of one’s projects has been found to be helpful in achieving one’s goals. If you can’t manage to do one shoot per week you can choose an alternative path.

Work hard on improving your skills and then you will be in a position to charge more per session. Let’s say you start charging $700 per photo shoot. Then dividing 25,000 by 700 means I will get 35.7.

Dividing this number by 12 I get 2.97, roughly 3. So this means if you charge $700 per photo shoot you will have to do only three shoots per month in order to make $25,000 an year. In other words one shoot per 10 days.

See how the math works? I hope this article would have helped you understand the common mistakes of photography related business and I hope this will help you resolve them.

Drop in a comment below if you know of any other good tip that I have missed. I will be happy to read that.