We don’t all start out thinking that we are going to make a living from photography. Perhaps that is something we dream of, but usually it’s something that we take up as a hobby, or because we fall into it when we buy a decent camera.
The more we begin to learn, the more we want to know. We realise we want to improve our photos. Then as a little time goes by and our work improves and people start commenting on it we begin to wonder… Could I actually earn money from this?
By the time we have taken the leap to full-time photographer we are fully engrossed and absorbed in the sheer love of photography and the process of creating and publishing our work. We have sat down + figured out the sums + looked at the competition + we are pretty confident that our business can be a success.
But 85% of photography businesses fail within the first three years. That’s terrifically sad. We all start out with the same grand hopes and dreams for our business and our art- where does it start to go wrong?
We list some of the warning signs that your business might fail here. Not because we are doom and gloom and full of negativity, but because if you can recognise the warning signs you can address them before they have chance to take hold and destroy your career and your love of photography.
Whether you are a part time photographer who juggles babies and cameras, or full time fine art pro, everyone can benefit from paying attention to these warning signs – and if you do you will find that your business is not only protected but grows further in the right direction.
1- You Don’t Have Insurance
If you’re a photographer and you work with people in any capacity – models, members of the public, even passer-bys- if you don’t have insurance you don’t just risk losing your entire business but could possibly end up behind bars.
Do you really want to risk your cameras being stolen, or somebody accidentally moving your bag and dropping it in the process, breaking those expensive lenses? Worst case scenarios; what if you slip and you drop your camera on to a child? Or they trip over your tripod and break a bone? Or what if your clients just decide that frankly your work wasn’t good enough and they decide to take you to court?
There are so many what-ifs when it comes to working as a photographer. If you don’t have insurance you are not only risking all of your equipment but your business reputation- how do you even start to tell the weeping mother of a five year old that tripped over your camera bag and broke their arm that you aren’t insured?
Every photographer needs insurance, but if you work on a regular basis with children, babies, or with large crowds (weddings, reportage, music, some travel) don’t even risk not having it.
2. No Backup Equipment
If your equipment fails a few days before a shoot, you can always hire replacement equipment. But what about if your equipment fails during the shoot?
When we first start out some of us just hope and pray that our equipment will be fine during our shoots, or we kid ourselves that if anything did happen it somehow wouldn’t matter because the shoot is free / self-arranged / a friend / low-cost.
Having good backup equipment is the mark of a professional and if you don’t have it you put your entire professional reputation at risk every time you shoot. Plus, can you imagine the stress you would feel if your usual equipment failed and you didn’t have adequate back-up? Save yourself the worry and make your next kit investment a backup.
3. You Don’t Share
Are you guilty of withholding all of your photography secrets? You don’t discuss your equipment, your camera settings, your processing presets and techniques with others?
A protected approach to your photography isolates only yourself and your business. Those seeking your help and advice will always be able to find the information they need elsewhere, whereas being open and willing to share information and help others can foster collaborations, recommendations, and the growth of your own knowledge + business. Can you afford not to share your secrets?
4. You’re Not Charging Enough
Bit of a no-brainer this one. If you’re not charging enough to cover all of your costs AND to make a healthy profit then your business won’t last too long. That should be reason enough to look at your prices and realistically consider if they need to rise.
5. You’re Not Interested In Learning
We all love to learn about photography. We could sit and talk for hours about technique or photographers or exhibitions or one another’s chosen kit. But only some of us like to learn about business + marketing to the extent that you need to to make your business wildly successful.
The books you need to immerse yourself in alongside Annie Leibovitz’s At Work are those focussed on teaching you how to make your website the sparkliest and most attractive, how to blog properly for business, and a million and one other marketing / business books.
If you’re not interested in learning about business + marketing, you won’t have a business for too long, unless you are staking everything on becoming insta-famous.
We can help with that last one. Our aim at the FPA is to bring you the hottest marketing tips and tricks that you really need to be able to grow your business and prevent photography business failure. Join us here to ensure you don’t miss out on a single post.
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