Starting A Photography Business & Why You Should Use A Business Plan
Photography may be an art form and your passion, but if you plan to take it to a business level, you need to treat it like you would any business. That means you need to draw up a concrete plan of action and do your market research to ensure you have every chance at success.
All of this boils down to a serious need for a formal business plan.
Having a business plan is like having a roadmap for where you want your business to go. It’s a must for businesses in all fields—from traditional corporations through to creative one-man shows. In fact, it’s possibly even more important for a creative venture because it breaks your concept down into quantifiable facts and figures, showing you how to become profitable.
Still not sold on the idea? Take a closer look at why your photography business will benefit from a business plan.
4 Ways A Business Plan Can Help You
- Give You Direction
The first step of writing any business plan is to put your idea down in writing. A photography business can be so many things—portraits in a studio, event photography (big or small), wildlife or landscape shooting, editorial content, stock photography and so on. You can use this first step to narrow down your area of interest, and the methods you can use to make money from your skills.
In this initial summary, define exactly what your services will be, and if there are any products, you plan to sell too. You should include your specialties—weddings, fashion, landscapes—as well as your equipment; lights, lenses, a drone, and any other tools. This will help you set services and rates.
For additional avenues of income, consider selling products. Perhaps you can create picture books or prints of your photos and sell those. Prints on plates, mugs, and clothing are also great keepsakes that tend to sell well. If you have a studio with decent equipment, you can consider renting it out (just make sure you have proper insurance).
Having this information in writing is invaluable. It will give you the focus and direction you need to get your business up and running. You can also refer back to your business plan to ensure that you are staying on track.
- Help You Secure Funding
During that first phase, you may see that you’re lacking in equipment that will ensure you really make a success of your business. Alternatively, you may not have backup funding to cover you until the business becomes profitable. There are many reasons you may need funding to get your photography venture off the ground.
Having a detailed business plan will give potential investors or lenders confidence in you as a business owner. You can show them your skills, your strategy for operating, your market research, and how you will become profitable.
- Gain An Understanding Of Your Target Market
Once you’ve decided on the services you’re going to offer, you can start researching who you’re going to offer them to. Researching target markets is a major part of creating a successful business plan. You get to take an in-depth look at who you’re aiming to sell to, how they behave from a consumer point of view, and how best to sell to them. If you want your business to work, you need to know how to sell to your target market, and you can’t get there properly without following the first steps.
It’s important to define your target markets in terms of primary and secondary. For example, if you’re a great portrait photographer, you can angle your business in many ways. You could offer family shoots in your studio, professional shoots for corporations, go to schools to take class photos, or offer actors and models headshots. All of these are good ways to make money as a business, but it’s important to pick your main focus.
If you try to market to all of these groups at the same time, you’ll be splitting your focus, rather than properly targeting one area. It’s a much better idea to focus your attention on one of these groups and build your business around them. The other groups can be secondary targets once you’ve established a reputation and got your business up and running.
- Know Who Your Competitors Are
No business exists in a vacuum, and photography businesses are found all over the world. There are probably several photography businesses in your immediate vicinity. That doesn’t mean yours will not be a success. The key is to know who your competitors are, and what exactly they offer. You’ll find that every good business plan template has a section on competitor analysis, and this is why.
The most important competitors to focus on are those who offer the same service as you plan to. If there are too many in that arena, you may want to adjust your focus, or change the target market you’re focusing on. This is why researching both your target market and your competitors is such an important step in creating your business plan.
If there are too many people offering the same service, it can be incredibly hard to make any headway. It’s not impossible though, but it will require something to make you stand out from the crowd. For example, you could have your own studio, or have equipment that allows you to travel to your clients easily, or you may have a qualification that others don’t. Analyzing your competitors will help you find that edge.
On the other hand, you could use that research to find your focus. If you were struggling to pick which target market to aim for, you can look at what markets others are focusing on, and pick the area that has the least competition. Again, this is only something you’ll know about if you put in the time and do the research.
Without a business plan, your photography venture may never get off the ground properly, and if it does, it runs the risk of losing direction fast. Follow the lead of entrepreneurs who’ve been successful and draw up a document that will serve you well, now and in the future.