Unless you are working for an agency, you'll end up becoming a one-man army when your photography skills turn into an acquisitional product. There has been a lot been said about turning photography into a business, and this is just my two cents.
Define your Rate because everything has a Price
Let's say that you have already defined your own style thanks to the melting pot of inspirations your life has stumbled into. Now, there has come the time to decide how much you need to charge for your time. I say time because defining an hourly rate, is the best way of making a fair and consistent math for pricing your work.
That sounds cool, but, where do you get the first number to start creating an hourly rate? Let's say you have a day job, now imagine that you'll be skipping one day, to work on a shoot (this time will include shooting and editing, so maybe 8 to 12 hours.) If you make $X.00 an hour on your day job, you can charge $X.00 times 2, since you'll be putting aside some responsibilities of your day job. Also, you need to add some fees for gasoline, light, internet, and other stuff. If you calculate a rate that wisely includes all the things you spend in when working, you’ll have a less risky rate. This is one way of doing it. You can also state your price in packages comparing yourself to the competition, but I consider the hourly rate is much financially healthier.
This video is a great source of wisdom when it comes about pricing structure.
You are not just a Photographer
When getting involved with the world of business, you start to understand that you are not just a photographer, but also the CEO of a small firm starting to bloom. You'll have to find solutions to financials, legal, and marketing stuff. If you don't find the sweet spot between having those things (and many others) in control, you're photography, will be significantly affected due to stress and many other things.
Consider renting before buying
Gear is great, no doubt about it, but do you really need that Tilt-Shift Lens? Or do you really need that 50-megapixel sensor for all your shots? Of course not. Be smart, and work with the assets of others. There are a lot of companies leasing or renting equipment as their most solid business model. Only buy things that you'll be willing to use every single time, like a high-quality tripod, or a very good bag/case for your gear. This will let you perceive faster revenues.
Define a Workflow
In the world of photography, it's very likely that you have had encountered with a term known as "Workflow". But I know, is hard to find a guide that really explains workflow in its essence. I have concluded that this has a reason, and it’s simple, workflows reflect the personal method of a Photographer of doing their stuff.
It may vary in scope, but at the end, is just a personal standardized way of doing things, in which you can repeat certain procedures to maximize your resources. The good thing behind a solid workflow is that you'll eventually do certain things that have little to do with creativity, in a very mechanical form. This will allow you to use your time in a more efficient way.
Your Workflow will eventually become more agile, and even leaner, but only time and practice will tell you what things can be improved and which are not yet able to be improved in your own workflow. Think your workflow as a recipe; filled with step by step tasks that you do in order to showcase a splendid picture in your portfolio, and you’ll be able to see it more clearly.
Invest in community management instead of cracking your head
I think many photographers are trying to keep up with Social Media in a very exhausting way. Let's create a sustainable environment for other creative as well, and let our minds focus on making pictures, instead of juggling between marketing theories and trends. Many of us don't have the marketing skills, knowledge, or even the energy to do digital marketing the way it needs to be done to create strong impact and drag.
Thanks to freelance platforms, we can hire great talent to rely on, and the impact will be better because they know better what they are doing. I have always believed, that there is a very poor pressure applied to something when you try to reach too much, on the opposite, you can get a better grip by applying enough pressure to a smaller area.
Show a consistent Portfolio
Portfolio is the most valuable asset of a photographer. Showing a consistent Portfolio, will be perceived as a solid niche oriented photography business. Here are some notable niches of photography:
- Aerial Photography
- Architectural Photography
- Candid Photography
- Close-Up/Macro Photography
- Conceptual/Fine Art Photography
- Documentary Photography
- Fashion Photography
- Food Photography
- Landscape Photography
- Night/Long Exposure Photography
- Sport Photography
- Street Photography
- War Photography
Invest in Promotion and website
You'll find a great deal after working with intelligent social media strategies, to always keep a budget for promoting your business through Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Consider a monthly fee of a percentage of your total income in order to maintain sustainability.
Also you’ll find that a fan page is not the most professional way to go, so you can invest in a proper website that will help you showcasing your portfolio in a clean and attractive way.
Keep the numbers in order
Unfortunately, accounting is important in every business, no matter its size. And with photography, as well as the digital marketing scenario, it is important to find a solution, because we are not going to start to learn about proper accounting skills now. Try to keep all your accounting centralized through cloud accounting software. There are great solutions out there. You just need to try them until you find the one that fits your needs.
Model and Property Release Forms
Cover your backs with the proper release forms. Here you can find a great source for all sort of forms templates that will define the proper scope of usage of your images.