This is the first of a two part post about the effort required to become a successful photographer. This first part is for beginners / amateur photographers, while part two is for professional photographers.
The temptation of photography
Photography lures you in like a mermaid on the rocks. It starts out as a fantastic hobby that opens your eyes to the beauty and wonder of the world around you. Then you get quite good at it and think “I can make some money at this”. So, you put up a website and get a bit of business from your friends and associates. Suddenly you’ve made a bit of money doing something you enjoy. It’s a wonderful feeling. Imagine being able to do this every day and never work again.
So you do a bit more with your website and get some better equipment. Hmm, that money you just made has now disappeared. It’s certainly cheaper to enter the photography market than open a B&B or restaurant, but it’s a lot more expensive than you think.
But hey, you’ve still got your day job and the beauty of wedding and portrait photography is that it’s all evening and weekend work.
You make a few more thousand and then realise you need even more equipment. For a start you need back-ups of everything because you can’t risk a malfunction at a wedding. Oh and then there’s the public liability and professional indemnity insurance, product samples, tax, a projector, projection software, a more powerful laptop, backup drives, a decent monitor, a colour calibration tool so you can be sure that what you see on your monitor is what will get printed. The list starts to grow more quickly than the number of new clients.
The cost of photography success
After a while you realise that just because your website has got onto the first page of Google that customers are not queuing up outside your door. If that wasn’t bad enough the clients that do email or call you aren’t spending as much as you’d like.
So, you start spending money on advertising, but that’s ends up being money down the drain. After all, you’re not trained in advertising. Maybe leaflet drops will work, because people have to at least glance at something posted through their door. Again, nothing. Wedding fairs, that’s the answer. So, you invest yet more money in a stand and a space and then discover there are a dozen other photographers there. Again, no return on your investment.
It’s now that you realise there’s a huge amount about the photography business that you don’t know. Yes, you have to be prepared to spend a lot more money than you first thought – many thousands…
…But, the biggest cost isn’t the photography equipment – it’s your time.
You have to invest a huge amount of time (and money) learning marketing and sales and testing the techniques you discover.
The secret to photography success is to invest the time to learn the things other photographers don’t bother learning.
So again I ask you, how much do you want photography success?
Whenever I’m driving I have educational CDs playing in my car. I’ve listened to some of the CDs over and over again. Every night I’m research, testing, planning and tweaking my photography marketing. I spend hours on it every day. I subscribe to about 20 blogs and read almost every email newsletter that comes through from them. I buy PDF download products about sales and marketing and I test many of my new ideas out.
I do all this because ultimately it’s your knowledge of sales and marketing that will determine the success of your photography business. Some of the ideas I test are hard to swallow, some take a bit of investment and most of them require lots of practice to execute effectively, but this is what it takes to create the lifestyle you want from photography. Being a good photographer simply isn’t enough these days.
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