Decision made to career swap to photography – now what happens?
The first article will have given you a good idea of the basics that are involved in setting up a new business and what steps you will have to consider in order to make the change, so the next step is to move into the area of ’now the decision has been made how do I prepare for my new business?’
With the business plan in place, a new trading name, enough camera equipment to get started, a website, initial promotional ideas, stationery, business cards, an idea on where you are aiming now it’s a case of winning those commissioned assignments.
The first important point to note is ’business won’t find you; you have to go and find it’. So it is vital to get a handle on some basic sales and marketing skills to promote yourself, and start to build your contact base from day one. As part of your preparation you may have been talking to friends/contacts and so on so will have an initial feel for what their reaction is. What was it like? How do they go about hiring a photographer when they need one? How do you come across?
People you know will be very useful in the early days so use them – what’s key is how you come across to a prospective customer. Do you have any local contacts that could help? Local newspapers? Businesses you know? Good places to start, but then what?
Time will be spent to look at the various ways that exist to promote you. Should you opt for advertising? Stick to on-line? Send out mailings? Host exhibitions? Join networking groups? Telephone cold-calling? Which way should you go?
Once a contact base is started and building the next stage is to turn it into business, so attention will move to the importance of face-to-face relationship building. At this stage some basic sales skills will be touched on to provide an insight into some basic elements that are key to building the right relationships, not only to get the first piece of business, but then to build on that for repeat work.
Discussing assignments with prospective clients, agreeing shoot lists, setting client expectations – all are open to different interpretations and unless handled properly can spell trouble, so attention will be paid to what needs to be sorted out and agreed up front, and possible ways of doing this that won’t send your prospect diving for cover?
You’ve started building relationships, discussing commissioned assignments, winning some business so what happens when you run into issues – one thing is for certain problems are going to occur, and that is true for everyone. So what do you do when you run into any of the following situations?
’You are too expensive’, ’that’s not what we agreed’, ’where are the rest of the shots?’, ’that’s not what our last photographer delivered’. Given that opinions of photos are personal you will find these comments arise, many can be handled by ensuring the shoot list is properly agreed beforehand but that is not always possible. We look at some of these areas and discuss possible ways to resolve the issues to both sides satisfaction.
Your camera packs up, or you get back to the computer and the shots are not what you wanted to see, a third party interferes, an art director appears and shadows you – develop techniques of handling these situations and keeping the customer involved. There are situations where, if handled properly, can in fact lead to incremental business, which will also be covered.
How do you deliver the results from the shoot? And what happens when you submit your invoice? The same won’t work for all customers but some alternatives will be looked at, as once delivered satisfactorily the next step is to get your invoice paid and keep an eye out for repeat business.
Hopefully, now, you will have an insight into how to promote your photography, handling the vital sales and marketing elements of the business, and how to rescue situations when things go wrong, whilst also being aware of the fact that you can’t please everyone all of the time.
© Keith Hern