March 3, 2016

Where To Invest When Starting Out

where to invest when starting photography business by virginia wedding photographerStarting a photography business is an exciting, but sometimes daunting task. You are bubbling over with anticipation, nerves, excitement and a big dream of where you want to take your business! But when you’re right at the starting line, it’s easy to feel stuck because you have no idea where to start when it comes to investing your time and money in your business!

Most people don’t have a lot of cash at their disposal to buy all the fancy equipment, marketing and education they’ll need for their business. And more than likely you are still working a day job so you don’t exactly have all the time in the world to invest in your business either! So it’s super important that you invest your time and money wisely at this beginning stage in order to have a healthy foundation for you business! Here are my thoughts on what you shouldn’t be investing in at this early stage of your business!where to invest when starting photography business by virginia wedding photographer Equipment. The most obvious investment for a photography business is equipment! This is where you’ll want to be careful to not go overboard! It’s easy to think that you should throw all your money at getting all the equipment you will need, but your equipment is not necessarily what is going to get your business off the ground! If you are just starting out, I would recommend limiting yourself to a good body and two lenses. This is enough for you to be able to learn your craft and still have some diversity in your portfolio. For the first several months of my business, I only had a Nikon D600, 85 1.8 and 35 1.4! This was more than enough for portrait sessions and I would just rent any extra equipment I needed for weddings! Blowing all your money on equipment will leave you without any funds to put towards the things that are arguably more important in getting your business off the ground! Plus, it gives you a little more time to develop your style so that you can have a better idea of what types of equipment will best fit your business!

Check out THIS POST to see what’s in my bag!where to invest when starting photography business by virginia wedding photographerPortfolio. Developing your portfolio is another obvious aspect of building a portfolio. No one is going to want to hire you without a portfolio, but when you’re first starting out, you have no portfolio to share! This is where you will be needing to invest your time into your business. Reach out to friends and family to offer them free portrait sessions! It may be hard to give so much of your time for free, but what you’re getting at that point is arguably more important to your business than money- portfolio images, experience and referrals! But because you probably don’t have all the time in the world to do free work for people, you also want to be selective in what you are willing to do. If you know that you want to be a portrait photographer, then maybe don’t waste a Saturday night on shooting a friends concert as that will not benefit your portfolio or experience. where to invest when starting photography business by virginia wedding photographerOnline Presence. This is one investment that I think is often overlooked and back-burnered by photographers when they are just starting out. It’s important to not underestimate the importance of a strong online presence. When you are first starting out, this can be as simple as just having a Facebook business page! Having something is better than nothing! And there are plenty of free and inexpensive options out there for creating your own custom website! Don’t let creating your website become something that sits on your to-do list and never gets done! This is something that is very worthy of your time and effort! Your online presence will play a huge role in the growth of your business! where to invest when starting photography business by virginia wedding photographerEducation. Learning from industry leaders that have already gone down the path you are going can be invaluable to your business! From conferences to workshops to one-on-one mentoring, there are so many opportunities out there for you to learn! But I will caution you to choose wisely when picking which education opportunity you want to invest in. When you are first starting your business, you probably don’t have a crystal clear vision of how you want your business to be run or what you even want to specialize in. At this point, you are more of a sponge that needs to just soak up all the basic information you can so that you are starting your business off right! So I probably wouldn’t suggest that your first education investment be an in-depth all day mentoring session with Katelyn James. This kind of mentoring is a better fit for someone that has already gotten their business off the ground and is need of in-depth critical analysis and advice on the way they run their business. For someone that is first starting out I might suggest something a little more casual or low-key where you can get the few basic tips and advice you need to get started!

There are also a lot of great free resources out there for you! Find some photographers or business owners that you look up to that do educational blogging. You’ll want to find people that run their business in a way that you aspire to. For me that’s people like Amy & Jordan, Katelyn James and Natalie Franke. You can also check out the Rising Tide Society website to see if there is a local Tuesday Together meetup in your area! These monthly meetings are completely free and are a great way for you to network with other business owners in your area and just be a sponge for all their invaluable advice! These leads me into my next point. where to invest when starting photography business by virginia wedding photographerNetworking. This is another time investment that should be overlooked. Meeting other photographers and business owners in your area is beneficial for finding opportunities to grow your business! Say you meet up with another local photographer at coffee shop and talk about your businesses. Then she mentions that so-and-so is looking for a second shooter for their weddings, so she gives that person a personal recommendation for you. Then you get to second shoot for that person and gain invaluable experience and portfolio images to grow your business with! And this all just from scheduling a little coffee date! This is actually exactly what happened to me in my first few months of business! Networking is also important because it helps you to not feel alone in what can be a lonely world of entrepreneurship. Having people that are going through the same struggles and obstacles as you can really help you to stay motivated and not burn out!

So if you are in your first stages of your photography business, I hope that you can find this information beneficial! Now these tips are just based on my own experience and what I’ve learned, so it certainly not the only way to go about it! If you are interested in getting more tailored advice for your business, contact me about setting up a mentoring session!

Here are some other blog posts from the Ask Anything series that you may find helpful! 

4 Tips for Better Focus

How to Get Creamy Bokeh

The Basics of Off Camera Flash



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