You dream of having your own photography business but you don’t know how to start a photography business with no money?
Believe it or not, this is a common issue for new photographers. There seem to be so many obstacles in your way – the main one being a lack of funds.
Should that stop you? NO.
It’s a small hurdle that can be overcome with some nifty footwork and artful dodging. When you read through the lists below – make some notes and go through them carefully. Tick off what you have already done and what you still need to do.
It will also help you prioritize, which is essential if you are just starting out. So, even if you think you are not just a great photographer but also have a brilliant business mind, by skipping this step with our without money, you will be sabotaging your own photography career.
Download one read it through and write down your intentions and how you are going to go about making your photography business work for you and your circumstances.
It is an investment that always pays off in the long run. It might cost you some of your precious time, but it will only cost you money if you do not have one!
Choosing a Good Name for Your Photography Business
Your name is your brand. You don’t need money to find the right name, but you might need to eventually register your business.
This means you need to make sure you are not taking someone else’s established photography business name.
Do a bit of research and go on the internet and type in the name you want to use. Make sure the name you choose is not bland or non-descriptive.
Think creatively but make sure potential customers will still know that you are offering photography services. If you are going to be using premises, make sure about the legal implications and business rights you might need.
Renting premises when you are starting up is unnecessary and expensive unless you have a place in your own home that you can convert. Even then, you will need some money for renovations.
Before that happens, rather go to clients to meet them or choose a place convenient for both of you. Depending on what type of photography you are doing, a lot of the time you might be on location (wedding venue perhaps) with no need for a studio.
Actually, once you have a name, do you really need printed business cards?
What do most people end up doing with them? They throw them away.
Send your details by phone – you can have an electronic business card that can be sent to any device. That also means that you are exchanging details with them and building your potential customer base and network.
Using others to help set up your business, will take money out of your cash reserves necessary to keep your business afloat daily. None of these will make a serious impact on your business when you are starting out.
There are other ways to get the word out, which we will discuss later on.
Even though you are starting your photography business with no money, you will obviously still need a small amount of cash to survive daily.
Planning ahead and making a budget does not cost anything but gives you a clear idea of what is actually needed to run your business. Take into account all aspects of running a photography business, such as renting equipment and the phone bill.
Also, if you are traveling to clients or a venue, take into account fuel expenses. You will have to have reliable transport so keep those costs in mind.
There are many apps you can download such as Goodbudget or Mint – Moneymanager (if you are in the US or Canada). A good tip is to download a free app specifically in your country that links to your bank account. That way you can keep a close watch on expenses.
You are probably running on a shoe-string budget, make sure you are not undercutting your price just to get work.
If you do not charge appropriately, any savings you have made will not be worth it, as any profit you make will be lost. If you have made a realistic budget, as stated before, then you will be more aware of what you need to charge to actually make some money.
Also, often customers do not equate cheapness with quality and do not mind paying more for a superior photography service.
Ask for a deposit on a job or even for full payment upfront. Either way, make sure you have the correct but not necessarily the latest equipment for the job.
Perhaps there are shops that do rent to buy option as well, then the money spent is being well used.
Look for Deals
Many online shops or others cut their prices certain times of the year and sometimes they run monthly sales.
If you are in need of a certain piece of photography equipment and are saving to buy it, then keep a lookout for any specials. Make sure that you receive alerts on your phone or emails when specific websites or shops are running these specials.
Just remember, the sales are not for you to randomly buy something because it is now cheaper. Make an essential list of things you need and work only off that list. Also, think of selling photography equipment you no longer need or can’t use anymore.
Build a Website Cheaply
There is no need to get a professional to build a website for you. There are plenty of free or minimally priced products that with a little bit of input from you can look professional.
Look out for website designs that include advertising as it is not a very professional look and rather opt for ones that are not funded that way.
You might have to pay a once off fee, but it will be worth it. Use Wix, Squarespace or Yola or any other free website builder and if you don’t feel you have the skills to create something spectacular, find a friend or family member who can give you some free creative input.
Don’t put too much of your time initially into building a website as you need to get out there and find customers. Just make sure your website or blog or whatever you are using is up to date with current information and has a link where customers can send you an email.
Change the photographs on your page quite regularly, showing current work that you have done and perhaps good reviews from customers.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Photography Business
Most social media are free unless you want to boost your posts (such as Facebook). Use social media to advertise – get your friends to share your posts and like your page or comment on your photos.
You might think that your photography skills are the most important skills you will need for your business.
Wrong! People’s skills are.
Photography is about people, no matter what your niche is. Every person you meet is a potential customer. It costs nothing to talk about yourself and your business. If your personality leans toward “grumpy”, you will have to work harder to be “happy”.
Engaging with others and being interested in them, along with a good sense of humor, will go a long way to selling yourself and your business.
One very simple, but effective way of marketing yourself and your business, is by setting up a weekly or monthly group email with some news or specials or just about anything interesting. And it is free!
Keep it short and simple and catchy. No-one reads long emails. No-one likes getting five emails in one week either. One email can reach hundreds of people and might spark some interest or inquiries.
There are many free videos online and websites geared towards helping you hone your skills. YouTube has endless videos with tips and tutorials on just about any aspect of photography (obviously be selective).
You will eventually know which videos or websites you can trust and are legitimate.
If you are a wedding photographer, for instance, you might spend a lot of time looking at other wedding photographers’ posts or websites to get ideas. Don’t limit yourself.
Look outside your niche or specialization to ensure you remain inspired and relevant. Having the internet and social media means that there is no limit to what you are exposed to and there is no cost involved (other than data).
People are looking for novel and creative ways to showcase their special moments. You need to have some ideas to offer them, as well as the ability to try to incorporate as much as what they want as possible.
Nermin Grahovic is a photography enthusiast and photography blogger based in Europe. His images are fun, creative and exciting and his love for travel makes its way into most of his images. Some of his favorite photography genres are portraits, street, landscape, and industrial photography.
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