So I want to start my own business, but!

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by 391615, May 5, 2008.

  1. 391615

    391615 TPF Noob!

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    Where do I start, I notice people talk about getting an area to work on that you like, I can't decide, is it good to offer a variety of services. I understand that as soon as you get more and more work, it could be hard to juggle say Portrait shoots, and Business photography together for example.

    I've established, if I want to reach my goals, I must start my own business and not to work for someone else.

    I am about one month away from registering my business. I know what is important to start with.

    • Business Cards
    • Professional looking website
    • word of mouth
    My main area of interst is sports, I'm aware that I need at least $20,000 to even start doing this properly. I'm taking photos at events, but I need to contact these clubs and start taking photos for them, building a name for myself.

    I love shooting photos of people at events, portraits, anything but weddings.

    I've also been considering business photos. One idea and I've no idea how it would go. I would contact businesses around my area, after viewing their websites, seeing the potential for professional looking photographs, convince them that the photographs could mean extra business. I thought I could then refer them to a web developer to design a website for them and grab a comission for the effort. Would this be worth it?

    When I look at things, I don't know exactly what direction to go, how much money to borrow? If I borrow money I need money in the bank.

    can anyone offer advice into how I can get moving, without getting myself into trouble. One question I'd like to know, is how does one get into sporting events with a pass.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    That is a good idea...but don't discount the idea of learning from other people/photographers. You may spend a lot of time and money, trying to reinvent the wheel...while it might be better to just learn from people who have 'been there and done that'.
    Sure, you will eventually be their competition...but you should still be able to find someone who is willing to help you out. It might not be working for someone (or maybe it is) but I'd suggest talking to pros in your field of interest.

    A couple weeks or months spent with a working pro is probably worth years of on-your-own trial and error.
     
  3. hedonia

    hedonia TPF Noob!

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    I have to disagree with your assertion that you need "at least $20,000" to start. I'm assuming that you already have a basic camera set-up, and you certainly don't need a studio, seeing as how you're interested in shooting sports, or events and basic portraits. A website can be had for very basic costs: $10/year for domain, $30/year for hosting, and using a free service like Wordpress.org to build a nice portfolio online (or Jalbum, or any other free site-building company). Business cards are $30/500 for very nice ones, and you can join a pro photographers' organization to get malpractice insurance for no more than $200/year.

    As for not getting yourself into trouble, as someone who has gone out on her own in the last year (leaving my studio job and becoming a self-employed portrait photographer): Don't take out loans for your business at first. Start small. Set your prices to begin with where you want them to end up. (In other words, don't start cheap and expect to raise prices. You'll lose your client base when you do). Do be sure to go above and beyond for your first few customers. Word of mouth is the best advertising there is. If you currently have a full-time job, burn the candle at both ends and work on YOUR business on the side until you're sure you can make enough to pay your basic bills. Or, barring that, get a part-time job while you work on your business. Don't go into debt to start. If you have absolutely no capital to pay for basic things (like the $40/year for a website, $200/year insurance, etc.) then you're probably not in a position to borrow money anyway.

    You can absolutely do this. You can do event photography, you can do portraits, and you can do photography for local businesses. What you can't do is borrow $20,000 if you don't have a lawyer, accountant, and a business plan already on your side.

    Your best bet is probably to significantly decrease your living expenses for a few months, have a part-time job, and work like mad on getting some paying clients. Shoot on spec if you have to. Just get your name, and your excellent pictures, out there!

    (By the way, if you need any help with setting up a simple wordpress website, PM me and I'll help out. I made one really easily and I think it came out well).
     
  4. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone starting out in this biz this would be it.
    "Set your prices to begin with where you want them to end up. (In other words, don't start cheap and expect to raise prices. You'll lose your client base when you do)."

    But that also means that to do it properly it may be best to "portfolio build" (with discounts based off of the pricing where you want to be) until your portfolio and skill is justified in charging your full prices.
     
  5. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    Ok. I'll dispell a myth. There is no such thing as a universal Press Pass. This is a Hollywood invention. To get a pass you have either to be sponsored by a client or be on good terms with the organisers. If you can explain you're a professional photographer and would like a "pass" then they might help you or they might not. If they don't, then don't bother further as paying for entry is something you should never ever do unless you are reimbursed or can claim it on expenses.

    Don't start a new business full-time. Start it part-time and hold down your normal job until your part-time job takes over. As there could well be economic woe around the corner, you need to hedge your bets like mad. I don't need a crystal ball to know that events are building around the world that could cause major problems in the long term. In the short term, the increase in oil prices is going to hit the whole world quite hard.

    The keys to good business are:
    1. Low costs - see what corners you can cut and how hard you can haggle. I just haggled a trader down $20 over a 511 Tactical Vest in beige and they were the only store that actually had one, in town.
    2. Good word of mouth. Advertising is good but it's a blunderbus approach. Word of mouth is far more powerful. People remember what they hear if they hear it often enough.
    3. Good products - give the customer what they want and to the quality demanded.
    4. Customer service - you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
    5. A cunning accountant.

    I have a website even though I don't think much of webvertising. I'm listed in as many free places as I can find and if anybody can suggest any more free places covering South Carolina, please feel free to chip in or PM me.

    I have signs on my vehicle. I have business cards. I have advertising on my polo-shirts (higher class than tee-shirts). I will have my logo put on my 511 tactical vest too. I have just taken delivery of a sign that I will hold up beside road junctions during rush hour.

    Above all read up on guerilla marketting. Also take a look at the way Oscar Schindler got the German leaders interested in him.

    Then there're bridal shows, trade fairs, business networking events etc. Don't pay much to join business networking groups though. My local one wanted $500 a year so I declined their kind offer.
     
  6. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    Yup and advertise a low price on Craigslist but say "starting at" and then make the price quickly mount up once you add bringing a camera to the event, distance to location etc.

    If they begin to jib at the price when it's near where you want it to be then you do not need that person as a client.
     
  7. 391615

    391615 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone for the comments, the last thing I want to do is go in blind and fail, I'm sure I read that somewhere 95% of businesses that fail do so in the first six months.

    One problem I've sometimes had is being impatient.

    I go down to the football every weekend, and shoot photographs, I posted some in the forums, and was asked to take some photos on the weekend for the club, and had them sent to the paper. I'm hoping my first work is published tomorrow. I'm starting to get people see my photos, and say "Hey your that guy....." I have taken some good shots so far considering my equipment. I have a 300mm 4.5-5.6 lens, and am using technique alone to get anything good out of my shots. I'm restricted to shots within 1/15th of the playing field. Its quite frustrating. I can't really see how I can make money from the shots I take due to the equipment being below par. Its nearly a waste of time doing the night games. I'm not sure how I can get better without better equipment, but I do understand borrowing money can be dangerous.

    I also have a photoshoot coming up organized through a friend. They want their staff photographed, as a group and at their offices for the business. I don't have a business yet, so I was thinking about doing this to get some credit, and experience. Only problem is all I have in terms of equipment is a 18-55mm 3.5-4.5. 50mm 1.4 and a 70-300 4.5-5.6. I have no lighting setups. How do I go about looking professional with this limited equipment. I really need a 21mm 1.4 or something or at least a 17-55 2.8. So how do I go about making money with limited equipment?

    With the website I have one atm, I build through Jalbum, and edit the main page myself, although Ive been told by a number of people that it lacks punch and professionalism. I can't seem to get myself around the html code to build my own pages.
     
  8. ukreal1

    ukreal1 TPF Noob!

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    April, where did you 'get' your website, I am learning about this part of photography and want to get a websire asap, thanks for any info
    Pam
     

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