So the photography business has started, you have some customers, how do you grow it?
You are now ‘in business’ as a photographer, and are developing a client base, have an improving grasp of your preferred methods of self-promotion, and have the basics in place to support the business. How do you keep going, keep growing the business, and avoid becoming one of those ‘cheerful’ statistics that states 70% of businesses fail in the first 2-3 years?
Once the business starts moving time may well become an issue, with shooting, post-shoot production, chasing invoices, sorting out queries, doing your own promotion/marketing, customer/prospective customer meetings, website updating and so on. Before looking at possible ways to overcome time issues, let's focus on different ways that can be used to grow your business.
Firstly, customers – what happens when they are pleased with the results of your photography? What do you do next? How are you planning on staying in contact? How often? And what is the best way for you and for your customers? Are there different areas of photography that you may be able to get into?
Look at how your marketing is working for you. Do you keep tracks of where your enquiries come from, the total number, what conversion rate to assignments you are getting? How can you use this information moving forward?
Thirdly, in keeping with the ever-increasing growth of the internet what is the impact of this likely to be? How can you use it to develop your ‘brand’ further? And what about social media – time-consuming hype or a genuine route to further business? Blogging – do you do it and if so how often and to whom?
Expanding your contact base – we look at the many ways of doing this, and discuss what sort of mix may be suitable, from cold calling to networking. The further you can spread your brand the better.
You may also want to look ahead and start thinking about where else you could go to promote yourself, what other areas you can expand into. What about forming alliances? Putting your images into photo libraries? Take speaking slots at networking events? Or exhibition stands at trade shows? How about PR and/or advertising? How about running an exhibition yourself, or getting involved in a larger one? These are the types of area that you should be looking at. In a constantly changing market it is important to keep an eye on trends and also be seen to be working on new ideas and approaches.
Then when you are busy and the business is growing time does start getting short and there aren’t enough hours to do everything that you want what next? Everyone needs time off and there are only so many hours it’s possible to work so discussions will now turn to possible ways of managing this.
There are many ways, some surprising, that will bring a smile to your face in your new line of work – some just happen, others need working on with a certain degree of ‘should I have done that’. What’s it like going through your shots with the client when they turn round and tell you how good they are? What does it feel like to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to a supposed ‘golden opportunity’? How good does it feel to get that first sale through an image library, that first piece of press coverage?
It’s important to look at the good points as it acts as a reminder why you made the change. Equally you should have a thought or two as to how to remain positive when things aren’t going right.
© aspect2i 2010 ©images and text by Keith Hern (www.keithhern.com))