Starting a business on a budget can be a challenge. Nothing is more exciting than starting your own business but the list of items you might feel you “must have” to successfully build it up, quickly grows. You want your business to look legitimate and professional, and not having a huge amount of disposable income available can be challenging at times.
But starting a photography business truly doesn’t have to break the bank or push you into debt.
Here are five financially related tips that have greatly helped my photography business grow and reflect a more professional image:
Start a free Facebook page. It’s wonderful how Facebook offers free business pages to its members. Honestly, every business should have a Facebook page, but especially if you’re doing photography. Almost everyone is on Facebook. This means people can easily tag themselves in your photos and share your links, which ultimately helps spread the word about your business like wildfire.
Start a Business Blog. A business blog is a place where you can get more personal, display multiple photos from a shoot, write something special about each one, list your prices, publish articles, etc. I personally recommend WordPress for your free blog. It’s clean and easy to understand. Whatever you choose to do, it’s important as a photographer to have a place on the web to showcase your work and provide a closer look into who you are and why your services are valuable to potential clients.
Buy a logo on Etsy.com. I didn’t have a personalized logo when I first started out and as a result I was admittedly self-conscious about sharing my blog with others. I remember designing something myself on Photoshop to use as my header, but it just didn’t reflect the professional image I was aiming for. I attended a meeting with other photographers, and someone mentioned Etsy for a cheaper alternative to paying a few hundred dollars for a logo.
The logo you see at the top of this page? I bought that on Etsy for $10 dollars. The downside is other photographers can buy the same exact logo (only with their name and whatever colors they choose). At this point that doesn’t bother me at all. I love the logo and for only $10 it was exactly what I needed to make my blog look more professional. I do eventually plan to invest more money on a beautiful bespoke logo down the line, but it’s not a priority at this early stage in my business.
Rent Lenses. Lenses are expensive. Especially the nicest ones that photographers swoon over, the 50mm 1.2, the 85mm 1.2, a nice wide angle like the 24mm 1.4… The list goes on. Chances are if you’re just starting out, you’re not making the type of cash that would allow you to go all out and purchase all the equipment you’d love to have for your shoots. I rent from a local company called Tempe Camera. They have every lens I’ve ever wanted to rent available at affordable rates. I’m confident that this is an affordable option in most major cities.
True, it’s not exactly fun to spend a portion of your hard earned cash from a shoot on rental lenses, but it’s definitely more fun than worrying about a credit card payment on top of all the other challenges of being a new small business owner. Once you’re making a profit, you can work this into your business budget and buy your equipment the right way, straight up cash baby. You’ll feel better about those big purchases in the long run if you really earned the cash to buy that dream lens.
(If there’s really no rental place in sight, I recommend the 50mm 1.8 for the Canon. It’s a great, cheaper lens option and will carry you through until you can afford something like the 50mm 1.2.)
Purchase some type of CD cover software. I give all my clients images from a shoot on a disc. This is a fairly low cost way to provide the final product. I used to write in permanent marker on the disc and mail it out. I hated doing that. It wasn’t professional at all. I felt like I was in high school, making a mixed CD for my best friend’s birthday. So I went to OfficeMax and bought a $20 packet of CD sticker paper that came with instructions on how to create personalized CD covers on the computer. Doing this one simple thing has greatly improved the look of my product and increased my confidence when I deliver the final product. Plus it only takes a couple minutes to create one!
After you open your business, everyone will come out of the woodwork with advice they want to share with you. Sometimes it will be advice you never wanted or asked for, and other times it will be. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t compromise your financial stability or buy into the idea you need to spend a ton of money, or even worse, go into debt, to make money. Take your time and spend your income with priority and purpose. At the end of the day, you don’t want to feel like you owe even a little bit of your success to Mastercard.