Shooting Isn’t All You Do – The Business of Doing Business

The recession sucks.

It’s worldwide, touching practically every industry, and the resulting negative side effects have hit many photographers squarely on the chin.

That being said, it’s high time we bring a little perspective to this situation as it relates to the business of photography – and those of you who make (or are thinking of making) a living from it. I personally have numerous clients who are booked and paid for over a years worth of projects – this includes portrait, wedding, news, and editorial photographers.

Many veteran photographers will say things like “I’ve seen recessions come and go, I’m still in business after 20 years.”

So I asked them: “How do you do it?”

The resulting points  should force you to reacquaint yourself with the business and sales fundamentals that both veteran and newbie photographers use to remain busy and most importantly – financially healthy:

  • Relationships are the key value you provide to customers – people like to buy from people they like
  • Quality is subjective – you rarely beat a competing vendors quote on quality alone
  • Pricing is a factor of quality, your relationship with your prospect, and the perceived value of your service – if you’re a joy to work with, your fees are a non-issue
  • Referrals are the lifeblood of over 75% of our clients business
  • Treat every customer like it’s your only customer
  • Your technical prowess and Lightroom chops are of no interest to your customer – your ability to deliver on time, on budget, and with quality work is what matters
  • Pick up the phone and dial – calling past customer, prospects, friends, and associates to tell them you are looking for projects works wonders to build relationships and opportunities
  • Follow up – leave no email unanswered, no phone call un-returned, and no meeting missed
  • Research your competition – they are researching you

If you are a new startup, or a veteran, a quick list of timeless advice is available here. It’s no mystery why so many established businesses are trying to run like an early stage startup – they’re nimble, responsive, and HUNGRY! I’m also going to steal a line from Gary Fong – “relationships are recession-proof”.

Here are more fantastic business-related posts covering some of the important fundamentals and innovative ideas to help you on your way to being a Rock Star.

Get down to business

Whether it’s 100 phone calls or 100 conversations about your new idea … you have to test it before you jump in with both feet. I did the same thing when starting X-Equals+Consulting and the X-Equals+Blog … and it works!

Plain and simple … but so few get it right.

The customer is not always right. But … they do pay the bills. Being awesome at working with your customers isn’t really about being right – it’s about solving problems, maintaining a solid relationship, and driving repeat sales and referrals.

I’m going to say this once:

“If you don’t have a blog, you’re missing a massive opportunity to connect with, build, and generate repeat business with you prospects and customers.”

And I’m going to say it again:

“If you don’t have a blog, you’re missing a massive opportunity to connect with, build, and generate repeat business with you prospects and customers.”

A killer portfolio site with a Contact form doesn’t cut it anymore. EVERYONE has one of those!

The successful photographer uses their blog to remain engaged with their clients both past and present, to sell their services, and bring a competitive edge to their business. As we heard before: “relationships are recession-proof”. Your blog is a natural extension of your business relationship and, despite popular opinion, does not require a herculean effort to setup and maintain.

Click, boom, done. 5 quick tips with big payoff when done right.

Insert ‘photographer’ for designer and you’re on your way!

You can’t do it all on your own, and when it’s time to take the next step, a Photo Rep. can work wonders for your business. Here’s some tips to help you avoid the pitfalls while picking the right one.

Making the transition doesn’t happen overnight. You have to strategize, plan, market, and sell your way out of your day job if you have a chance of making it. Here are some tips to get the ball rolling.

Picking and presenting a well planned portfolio website is so easy nowadays. So … combine your portfolio site with a well developed blog and you’ll be unstoppable!

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or newly minted entrepreneur, there’s a lot more to running your business than taking photos. You get to enjoy all that goes with it: stress, anxiety, feast, famine, wins, losses, to name a few. Lucky for you, there are hundreds of resources on the web (beyond our small taste test here) to help you get your game plan together and assist in executing on your ideas!

Brandon Oelling

Hi there! I'm Brandon Oelling, the founder of XEQUALS. My team and I believe deep in our hearts that inside every one of us is an amazing photographer. Our mission is to help you navigate your journey with the XEQUALS platform.