If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I love helping photographers find ways to create beautiful family photos for the clients of their dreams. But even more than that, I love to help photographers of all kinds thrive — not just as creatives, but as business owners. Here’s the secret: no matter how talented and creative you are, your business can’t truly grow unless it’s built on a solid, scalable foundation.
This fall, I’m ready to share a comprehensive guide to getting started. Whether you’re just beginning your photography career or you’re ready to finally grow your business in a way that works for you, this series is going to help you get there. I truly can’t wait! Get ready to have all of your burning questions answered — and head into the rest of the year with more confidence in your business than ever before. We’re starting off with all my best tips for building your photography business blueprint!
A Different Kind of Business Plan
Starting a business: that phrase alone can feel overwhelming. Maybe you’ve been taking photos as a hobby or a side hustle for yeeeaars, but the idea of claiming that you own a business makes you feel like a total imposter. If you’re nodding along, please know that every successful photographer has felt this way at some point. My goal in this series is to give you the tools you need to thrive — because I already know you can do this.
In many industries, a business plan includes finding brick and mortar space, pitching to investors, or applying for a loan at your local bank. But creative businesses are different, which means we need to create a different roadmap entirely. As a photographer, you likely won’t have extensive startup costs, but you do need a detailed blueprint to follow as you build your career. To create a foolproof photography business plan, there are four aspects you need to get clear about — and act upon.
Your Photography Business Blueprint
Every successful business looks different, but they all have several important things in common. Put another way, they know how to ask the right questions, even if they land on different answers. To build the photography biz of your dreams, you need to ask yourself four questions:
- Who am I serving?
- How do I find them?
- What do I offer?
- How can I make it profitable?
This is the most important part of your blueprint, but it’s actually the piece to the puzzle that’s overlooked more than any other. So many photographers focus on creating a service list and marketing their work — which is great — but it doesn’t work unless you know who your business is for.
Think about your dream clients, and don’t be afraid to get specific. In fact, I’d encourage you to create one very specific client and build their profile. In marketing, this is known as a client avatar. Get specific about their demographics. Ask: how old are they? Where do they live? Where do they shop, eat, work, play? After you’ve nailed down those details, dig into the “fun” things that make them them — and consider what you have in common! Do you enjoy the same playlists? The same clothing style? The same books, restaurants, or travel destinations?
Remember, this is a fictional character you’re building — and I know it may feel weird at first. But it can make the process of finding and booking your dream clients so much simpler. When we try to serve every kind of client, we end up with confusing marketing and inconsistent portfolios. While it feels scary to “niche down,” narrowing your focus can actually be the catalyst to your success.
Once you’ve decided who your dream clients are, it’s time to introduce yourself! Consistent marketing is an important piece of any successful business. Here’s the best news: those dream clients you’re thinking about? They’ve been looking for a photographer just like you! Now, you just have to tell them you’re out there, waiting to capture their family’s magical moments.
If marketing online feels overwhelming, start where you already are. Reach out to family members and friends who fit your dream demo, then expand into your social circles — other parents in your kid’s class or sports team, acquaintances from the gym or church, or local community groups. As you get more comfortable sharing your work (and sharing about yourself), you can branch out into marketing online through tools like social media ads, local Facebook groups, and Pinterest.
So, you’ve found your people, and you know how to market to them. Now, it’s time to add some concrete, clear offerings into your photography business blueprint. Don’t overthink it — most people are looking for a few specific packages, not an endless sea of choices.
As you share your services on your website or through marketing, keep it simple and high-level. Remember, potential clients who are interested will inquire for more details. But for the general public, offer some easy-to-follow services and trust that your portfolio and personality speak for themselves. List the type of sessions you offer, the starting investment, and how many images clients can expect to see in their gallery, and you’re good to go!
As a new photographer, setting your prices can feel complicated. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be — but it does take a few math equations. Numbers not your thing? That’s okay. Pop out your calculator and you’ll have a clear plan in no time. Here are the things you must consider if you want your business to be profitable:
- Your CODB (Cost of Doing Business): What are your expenses? This can include everything from Lightroom subscriptions to ad spend to equipment costs to filling up with gas as you drive to sessions. Make a list of everything you invest into your business and tally it up.
- Your Bandwidth: How many sessions can you reasonably shoot and edit each month? It can be tempting to say yes to everything and everyone, but no one wants to be a burned-out photographer.
Your Ideal Profit Margin: How much income do you want to bring in each month? Divide that number by your ideal number of sessions. (Don’t forget to factor in your CODB figures, too!)
HINT: We’ve got a great course to teach you how to price yourself as a photographer- check out our Photography Pricing Course!
This blog post is part of a series for BRAND NEW photographers! If you want to start your business off RIGHT, this guide will help!
- How to Create Your Photography Business Blueprint (aka Business Plan)
- How to Legalize Your Photography Business
- How to Manage Your Finances as a Photographer
- Must-Have Equipment for Starting a Photography Business
- How to Price for Profit as a Photographer
- Why You Should Start Marketing Your Photography Business