Over the past few weeks, my “business-brain” has been stuck in over-drive. I shot a fabulous wedding at the Royal Palms last Saturday (more to come on that is Sunday). But for tonight’s blog, I wanted to share the latest steps along my budding-businesswoman journey. I know, I know…most photographers don’t like to think of themselves as “business people.” But hey, if you are shooting, and getting paid for your work, sorry to tell you this, but yes, you are indeed running a business.
Over the past year, I’ve really been fortunate in that several seasoned pros and gurus have welcomed me into the fold. I’ve met fabulous planners, florists, event coordinators, DJ, you name it! The wedding industry professionals here in the valley are really amazing. The ones I’ve been lucky enough to meet are kind, open, and very supportive (which I’ve heard is not always the case for new small business folks in other industries). But what you may be surprised to hear is that some of the best and most helpful advice I’ve received has been from other professional photographers.
Hang on, you’re thinking, why oh why would professional photographers tell “newbies” anything they know? Why would people who are working in this industry help someone new? Isn’t that just creating more competition? That’s what I thought too, at first. But here’s what I’ve found out:
1. Photographers are almost always artists first, then business folks. Yes, they are all about growing and maintaining their business, but they are artists at heart. They love to talk shop with other artist and share in the emotional highs of creating beautiful images.
2. The Phoenix areas is massive. There are literally thousands and thousands of weddings that happen here every year. For most of the seasoned professionals around here, that means there is plenty to go around. No need to get feisty or territorial.
3. The photographers I’ve met have mad empathy for newbies. Every single one of the great photographers I’ve met over the past year know what it’s like. They remember begging to tag along with other pros. They remember what it was like to shoot for almost nothing, just to build their portfolios. They know the pain! Intimately. So they are super empathetic to those who are coming into the field.
So here is a quick and dirty list of the key take away points I’ve learned over the past year:
1. Keep educating yourself. You might feel like you’ve got a good feel for your style and you know how to create beautiful images. But keep going to workshops. Keep taking classes. If you don’t grow as a photographer, you won’t grow in the business realm either.
2. Network, network, network! Get to know the players in the industry and share you work with them. Did you shoot an amazing floral display at your last wedding? Awesome! Be sure to send a sweet email to the florist, with an attachment of that image (don’t watermark it!) and let them use it in their publications.
3. Get all you can out of free social media. Learn how to use Boosts in Facebook to gain more page likes. Post often and utilize the linking features between the different media sites so you don’t go nuts trying to post everywhere all the time.
4. Instagram is BIG. Not only because it’s a social media platform that is solely dedicated to photos, but because that’s where a lot of you millennial brides are. If you post your work, be sure to hash tag it!
5. Hash tags are also BIG. You can’t just create a post and send it off into the e-world, hoping it will go viral. Use the appropriate hashtags to get your stuff in front of people who want to see it. And if you post your work, and it showcases other vendor work, hash tag THEM. And remember to do it in the actual description of the post. If you add the comment later, chances are it won’t be seen by a majority of the posts viewer.
Whew! In writing this, I’m realizing I could probably fill an entire month’s worth of blogs with all I’ve been learning this past year. But I won’t J I’ll just end by staying that yes, I would much rather spend all of my time shooting. I’d rather not have to think about likes, followers, tweets, messaging…you get the picture. But I also have to admit, my millennial brain kind of digs this sea of modern day marketing opportunities. There’s so much to learn…but its kind of fun! If you keep calm and grow with it.
That’s the plan for the coming year! Stay tuned : )