Being a Professional Photographer in 2019… is that even a thing? Of course it is. That being said, the climate is very different than it was, even just 5 – 10 years ago. In other words… It’s more challenging.
Man, the new cameras are so amazing these days. They make it pretty easy to take a well-exposed and in-focus photo. Therefore, many people have jumped on the bandwagon and the market is pretty saturated with photographers now.
So? Big Deal.
If you really are passionate about this, there are always ways to accomplish the things that are important to you. You just do it.
I had a conversation on LinkedIn this morning. I was talking (messaging) with one of my contacts who is looking to start a photography business with her husband. She’s great at copy writing and marketing. Her husband is a very experienced photographer.
How cool is that!? They have a team that combines the essential elements of this business. Because, if you’re going to do photography as a business, you’re looking at 80% business and 20% photography.
Since I had basically written a post, messaging back and forth, I thought I might as well share it with all of you here.
You Want to Be A Professional Photographer in 2019 – A Few Things to Think About
If someone wants to be a pro these days, here are just some of the basics that they should think about:
One – Skills
Obviously they should have great photography skills; or at the very least know how to use their gear and make a good photograph. That’s just a given; that’s the starting point. This is so fundamental it really shouldn’t even be on the list. However, I just couldn’t leave it out.
Two – Be Different
They don’t have to be better than everybody else, but they should be different; have something that sets them apart. If they’re shooting the same stuff, the same way as everyone else, how are they going to stand out? That being said, having mad photography skills is definitely a plus. But, sometimes it’s being different that makes the difference. (see what I did there?)
Three – Vision
This kind of goes along with number two, and that is; they should have a clear vision of what they want their photography to look like; to know what their style is. They need to be self aware of that. As time goes on, that sense of vision; of style will show through in their work, therefore, their clients will know what they can expect.
Four – Get the Word Out
They should be obsessive about self promotion; building their brand online; doing cold calls/emails. I can’t stress this enough. They need to understand that if they’re doing photography as a business, the ratio is normally 80% business and 20% photography. I already said that, huh. But it’s a good point that deserves repeating.
Five – What’s Their Area of Photography?
They need to know what kind of photography they want to do. For example, weddings can still be a decent money maker. They could do portraits; senior portraits; baby; family photography, food photography, travel, product shots, etc…
It’s a pretty open list, however, they just need to think about what they want to do, and make sure there’s a market for it. In addition, they need to know how they’re going to break into that market. Or, if they are really creative, perhaps they could make a market for it.
Multiple Revenue Streams
Since the photography market is pretty saturated these days, it’s really good if you can have multiple revenue streams.
One thing I often recommend as a way to make money with your gear, is to create content for businesses. This could be another revenue stream, because every business needs content these days. So, reach out; start with local businesses that you could help. You could create content for them such as:
- copy writing;
- Memes, promotional and info graphics;
- anything that will help them tell their story; build their brand online.
Think of yourself as a content creator; producing content for businesses who need it. And, they all need it. They need content for their website and social media platforms.
This is crucial for business these days. However many smaller businesses don’t know or understand this. Content marketing is the primary way to build brand online. Help educate them, then get the gig.
Take on a few businesses as a content creator. Then if one falls off, you’ve got the others to pick up the slack while you find another client to replace the one that left.
You don’t need to have a studio. That can be a big monthly expense, and most of the time you can probably use an area in your home to use in stead. If you do have occasional projects that do require more room, then just rent a space for those shoots, and include those costs in your budget.
If your photography business does grow to a point where you do need a studio, you can always look into it at that point. By then your income can justify the studio costs. Then you could even branch out; maybe start holding workshops, things like that. Then, by having the studio you can generate even more income. But one step at a time.
Don’t Buy Gear You Don’t Need
This kind of goes hand in hand with the last item, but only buy the gear you would use for the kind of work you do. If there’s something that you only need to use now and then, rent that gear. And yes, include the rental costs in your budget.
Being a Professional Photographer in 2019
Anyway, these are just a few thoughts that really only scratch the surface. It would be very easy to write a book on the subject, there are so many aspects to it. But, I hope this helps.
I encourage anyone who’s got the passion for making money with their camera to pursue it; at least give it some serious thought. But don’t limit yourself to thinking that you only have the traditional ways of being a professional photographer; weddings; portraits, etc…
Man, the way business is changing so fast because of the internet, there are probably ways we can make money with photography that we haven’t even thought of yet. Get creative. Be innovative.
That being said, I do recommend that you keep your day job until you’re making more than enough money from your photography business. Having financial pressure is enough to kill anyone’s enthusiasm for the thing they used to love.
Really keep that in mind. If you decide to do photography for a living because you love it so much; you might find that when your income depends on it, you might not love it so much anymore.
Also, maybe you aren’t looking to make 100% of your income as a photographer. However, you could still use these tips to help you earn enough money to cover your gear lust. 😉
If you’ve got any questions or anything specific you’d like me to cover in future posts or podcasts, drop me a line. Or, let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer anything I can.