Starting out: What to charge? How to market?

TCUphoto

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I feel like I'm ready to make myself official. I'm ready to start a small business. So, how do you suggest going from "that friend who takes good pictures" to "a portrait photographer"? Any good marketing/advertising techniques work for you? Also, what do you suggest charging for sessions?

My plan for basic sessions: one hour photo sessions, outdoor locations, CD with 25+ edited images.

Any start-up suggestions appreciated. Thanks.
 

tirediron

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The first thing you need to do is draft a business plan and stick to it. Determine your fees based on actual costs of equipment, rent, insurance, etc, plus what you need to draw as a salary, while staying competitive in your market niche. Ensure that you have sufficient insurance and licenses, as well as know all of your local, state and federal tax requirements. Take advantage of all the free advertising you can (Craig's List, etc) try Facebook ads, and print ads. You can have circulars inserted in most local newspapers for a reasonable fee.
 

KmH

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You can get startup advice for free at www.sba.gov and www.score.org

I recommend the inexpensive book: How to Start a Home-Based Photography Business, 6th (Home-Based Business Series)

Good luck to you.

You may want to read: http://www.ppmag.com/profit-center/...eaking-financial-survey-can-be-your-guide.php but take into account, the linked to article came before the explosion in DSLR camera sales, and the concurrent flood of people entering the retail photography business.

Many new to business make the mistake of not including all of their costs when determining their CODB (Cost-Of-Doing-Business). Here is an online CODB calculator - NPPA: Cost of Doing Business Calculator
 

spacefuzz

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definitely write a business plan, but remember that if your needs or market dictate it, by all means modify it! when you write it you may overlook things you dont know that need to be incorporated later.
And like the others said, make sure your margins are sustainable. Dont cut prices for quick sales that undermine your product in the long term.
 

orljustin

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I feel like I'm ready to make myself official. I'm ready to start a small business.

Why? Wouldn't you rather pursue your present career of a Physician's Assistant? Why do you feel you should start some sort of a photography business?
 
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TCUphoto

TCUphoto

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Thanks all. I definitely am pursuing my career as a P.A. However, I love photography, need a creative outlet in my life, and I've always wanted to own my own small business.

Has anyone tried getting new clients on Craigslist? Any success?
 

tevo

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The first thing you need to do is draft a business plan and stick to it. Determine your fees based on actual costs of equipment, rent, insurance, etc, plus what you need to draw as a salary, while staying competitive in your market niche. Ensure that you have sufficient insurance and licenses, as well as know all of your local, state and federal tax requirements. Take advantage of all the free advertising you can (Craig's List, etc) try Facebook ads, and print ads. You can have circulars inserted in most local newspapers for a reasonable fee.

tirediron, once again, you're being too vague. -____-
 

KmH

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Did you know that marketing, and advertising are not the same thing?

Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships, and create value for their customers and for themselves.

Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services.
 

orljustin

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Thanks all. I definitely am pursuing my career as a P.A. However, I love photography, need a creative outlet in my life, and I've always wanted to own my own small business.

Has anyone tried getting new clients on Craigslist? Any success?

Taking pictures of people you find from Craigslist for a few dollars isn't really "owning my own small business". Why not just be creative and shoot thing that don't require the extra work a professional business does?
 

rach27

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Check out other photographers in your area, what they are doing and what they charge... but at the end of the day you have got to decide what your photography and creativity is worth. I noticed in my area that there's quite a few photographers who charge a very low sitting fee and try and make it up through prints etc... and I end up wondering how they make any money. Another way is to charge a sitting fee that covers your time and makes your profit there... allowing you to charge a more reasonable amount for prints, etc.

In terms of getting clients, I would say rope in friends and family to help out with a few sessions to build up your portfolio so potential clients can see your work. Kenny and I were lucky as we got asked by a family member to cover their wedding and one of Kennys mates has hired us to photograph theirs in November.

If Craiglist, is anything like Gumtree I wouldn't have much hope of finding clients as people are trying to get something for next to nothing half the time (there are a few exceptions)... but you never know. A lot of photographers blog their work, regularly updating people with their latest work.
 

LarissaPhotography

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Wow, you guys must really have approached starting your first business different than we did. In fact, some of the things you're thinking about TCU Photo seem very reasonable to us. Start with a lower price and let your friends, family, and Craigslist deal-finders know you're wanting to start making SOME money, but you're mainly working on building your portfolio. In my opinion, if you're making $50 for a session, it's a completely different game than when you make $0. You've crossed the threshhold. If you really love photography and you're wanting to start moving in the direction of making money at it, go for it!
 

KmH

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Good for you.

Historically, you are an exception, not the rule.

IIRC, you had a previous business background?
 
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I disagree with starting cheap because raising your prices may cause more hassle then starting off at a price you would want in the future. I wouldn't use craigslist, before I had opened a studio I had a home based studio and got some real weirdos from online classifieds. However Facebook ads and/or pages are great and print ads as previously mentioned. Flyers are good and advertising in community newsletter is good exposure too. Volunteering at charity events and handing out business cards and if your city has festivals etc you can volunteer or rent a booth. Word of mouth is best I find

Good luck!
 

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