Before starting my photography business, I felt I was prepared. I understood basic tax laws, took the steps to become a legal business, and purchased the necessary insurance. I understood the time requirements of sessions and editing, and I had a business plan in place that would build my business to be a productive, self-sustaining enterprise.
After that entire process, I started High Heel Photography. After some time, I discovered something shocking; I had grossly misjudged the amount of time I would spend on marketing and growing my business. This by far takes up the majority of my day. Not photographing clients, not editing, but attracting and retaining clients. Because these tasks seemed like “things that photographers do”, I did not consider the effect they have on my time, and ultimately, my bottom-line.
Here are a handful of duties I did not expect to eat up so much of my time:
- Maintaining a blog
- Updating social media
- Networking events
- Creating and implementing contests and promotions
- Continuing education to keep both business and photography skills sharp
- Submitting for publication
- Ordering and setting up displays for silent auctions and exhibits
- Designing marketing materials
This is just a small sampling of the one thousand items that come up daily.
Here are 5 tips I wish I would have known when I first started my business:
- It is not necessary to use every single resource. Choose what works best and produces the most results. Sometimes taking the time to cultivate a small audience is more successful than haphazardly sharing with a larger audience. Overexposure isn’t always a good thing, just ask Lady Gaga.
- It is okay to build this time into pricing. The mindset of, “well this isn’t really for the client so they shouldn’t have to pay for it” just isn’t smart business. Time is money!
- Set realistic goals and time limits. Tweeting like a Kardashian while Facebooking like a Zuckerberg and blogging like The Pioneer Woman is only going to lead to burnout.
- Each business grows at its own pace. There is nothing wrong with moving a little slower than the competition. Often when a business grows too fast it only ends in tears and a tub of salted caramel ice cream, which, minus the salted caramel ice cream, no one wants.
- Slack is a photographer’s friend; dole it out liberally. Not every blog post will be written, not every brochure will be perfectly designed, and that is okay. Celebrate the small victories and ignore the insignificant hiccups.
Those 5 tips would have saved me many sleepless diet-coke-fueled nights. After implementing some of them, it allowed me to really focus on making my business successful. The best part is, now I actually enjoy it!
Nicole Duff with High Heel Photography offers modern, yet timeless, photography to families, couples, and high school seniors in the Minneapolis metro area. Whether it is a large and lavish wedding or a more intimate family session, the goal is to grab onto the little details to tell a beautiful story.
Nicole considers herself more of an anthropologist and journalist than a photographer since according to her, “it’s all about just getting to know people and documenting what they share with you.” A lover of puppies, food that isn’t exactly good for you, and the MN Twins, she grew up surrounded by a family of artists and musicians, and after struggling to emulate them, found her calling behind the camera. Her past experience in Public Relations where she focused on crisis-management and event-planning makes her an asset to any frazzled bride.