Business at home? What to do?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by butterflygirl, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. butterflygirl

    butterflygirl TPF Noob!

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    Hello!

    I just wondered, for those of you that started out of your home, how did you go about it?

    Currently, myself and a friend of mine, are just shooting friends, family, friends of friends, etc. out of my basement. I use a Canon 300D ( i have plans to get the 30D soon! Yea!) and he has a Canon 5D. We have several muslin backdrops and use umbrella flashes.

    But what I really wondered is how did you go about branching out? How did you let people other than friends and family know of you?

    Also, in terms of examples, what did you have done? Did you just have snapshots in an album? 8 X 10's?

    I'd like to get some examples made up to put down where we shoot, but I'm not exactly sure what to do.

    Thanks! Can't wait for the replies. ;)
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Word of mouth is the main way that myself and many photographers get started. Do a good job for someone and they will usually tell other people...good customer service can go a long way.

    I think the next step is probably to have a web site. If people can look at your work on a web site, rather than you having to meet with them and show then prints...it will make things easier. The trick is getting people to your web site.

    There are countless ways to promote your business...I look forward to seeing some more suggestions.
     
  3. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Mike's two ideas are the best. I started very small just maybe a few hours a month. Word of mouth is the best (plus it's free) and my website and web marketing are the next best thing. An impressive website will really push people to choose you, whereas a basic HTML blinking text sort of website will really turn some people off of you.

    I would recommend getting a proof portfolio to show - it doesn't have to be made of gold or anything - Mpix.com has some nice ones at a reasonable price. Once you start making money you can get some better example albums.
     
  4. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Oh and I guess the marketing approach is dictated by what you want to do? Weddings? Portraits? What is the end goal?
     
  5. ZyxKor

    ZyxKor TPF Noob!

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    Like Dewey said figure out what you want to specialize in. You may do more than just this but finding a specific type of photography and marketing to it will help you focus your efforts. Don't be afraid to take jobs outside of your area, this can help you identify soft spots in the market. Once you get going you can diversify your work more. Be aware that it's going to take a while to build up clientele and cash flow. Be realistic. Build a portfolio, build a website and then ask people to comment on it. Ask people that are going to be BRUTALLY honest with you. It's too important to ask family & friends as they may be too nice and let something bad go by. Read sales books. Getting people to notice you is one thing, getting them to buy a service/product from you is a different subject.

    Work hard and THINK about what it is you are doing. That's why a business plan is important, even for a small business. It requires you to think about your business in terms that you might not think about but are vital parts to a business. The SBA has a great website for small businesses:
    http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html

    Good luck.:thumbup:
     
  6. Jim Gratiot

    Jim Gratiot TPF Noob!

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    Read several good marketing books (and newsletters... ha, ha, see below)... when you're starting out, those are JUST as important as photography books. As for branching out... tell EVERYBODY that you're a photographer. Ask for referrals from family, friends... or from anybody you can.

    And ZyxKor's right... figure out what your speciality is before you start marketing yourself. This will save you time, stress, and quite a bit of money.

    Look at tons of websites of successful photographers... this will give you (regarding pricing and services) a quick lesson on what is working and what isn't.

    Work hard to build a strong portfolio... your pictures are a large part of what makes people hire you.

    Make a commitment... and you will succeed. Good luck.
     
  7. oldnavy170

    oldnavy170 TPF Noob!

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    You should print up some business cards and just start handing them out to people so they know what business your in and that will be a nice way to start getting your name out there.
     
  8. Kristen6877

    Kristen6877 TPF Noob!

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    Aloha,
    I too am starting out, without a lot of money. I've been doing Real Estate Photography (since I work PT in a Real Estate Office) but about 6 months ago started branching out. I had business cards made and created my own flyers in Microsoft Publisher. I've been handing them out a lot. I put my flyers in the laundry room of my building - different places that I hang out - and in the mail slots at work. I also picked a certain area in Honolulu and sent my flyers to the address on particular streets (couldn't afford to do all of the streets I wanted - but it was a start.) I also created my website for free from Microsoft.com, and it gave me my own personalized email address and image storage. Then once my website was up and running I started looking for online photography directories and created online photography profiles in many different forums. I also created an account with craigslist.org and I post my ads every few days. I mostly get my work from Craigslist. I also started adding my business information to search pages like Yahoo & Google, and to online yellowpages like www.superpages.com , www.yellowpages.com and www.411.com. The great thing about my Windows Live (Microsoft) website is that it tells me statistics of where my visitors come from. That way I can pick where to do the most marketing. I hope this helps!

    Mahalo, Kristen
     
  9. ZyxKor

    ZyxKor TPF Noob!

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    Craigslist rocks. Can't go wrong there.
     
  10. butterflygirl

    butterflygirl TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone! These are great ideas! Hopefully we'll take off soon!
     
  11. Parago

    Parago TPF Noob!

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    Butterflygirl, I hope you don't mind me hijacking your thread but I'm in the exact same situation..

    I've got my website up, business crads are printed, word of mouth is out (and boy does it help!).. now.. MY biggest problem right now is legal issues. What contracts to use, what forms to set up, what signatures to get for what, etc. Release forms and all that stuff. What's really important and what is not?
     
  12. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    I've heard that [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Business-Studio-Photography-Start-Successful/dp/158115254X/ref=sr_1_8/103-2841091-1779008?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175396903&sr=1-8"]this book[/ame] is a good investment.
     

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