So you’ve made a decision to start a business. You’ve taken all the right steps to set it up, filed documents, paid state filing fees, got your business license. It might have seemed overwhelming but you did it! Now, you roll up your sleeves and get started working towards your first commission check. Or, do you? Which way is the right way to move forward?

Just when you think you know exactly what you’re doing, you start researching online or start talking to local business owners, looking for a bit of advice and support and come away feeling completely lost! What you will quickly learn is that each online or local “expert” will have their own idea of what it takes to be successful.

If you decided to be a photographer, it gets even more confusing. Each source will tell what your “must have” equipment list should contain as well. I have actually seen people become so confused that they give up and just take photos of their kids and pets. They were so discouraged and frustrated that they felt all the fun was gone out of it and they gave up.

I remember a few years ago when I was shopping at my local grocery store for cold breakfast cereal. There were so many choices and options, I probably could have stayed in that one aisle for hours researching ingredients and product labels! Just what is the best choice? The most natural, healthy, and tasty? Should I get whole grain? What about artificial sweeteners? Preservatives? It makes me just want to grab a box of Cheerios and be done with it! :)

Well, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with your photography business as well. What camera should you buy? What can you truly afford? What lighting equipment do you really need? Are you doing landscapes, weddings, or portraits? Which lens is the best for shooting outdoors? You can truly get stuck in the “paralysis of analysis” and do absolutely nothing because it’s just easier! Of course, that won’t solve the issue.

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” –– Yousuf Karsh, Armenian-Canadian Portrait Photographer

This situation can get your head spinning but do you know what’s even worse? You make a decision that you feel really good about, and then you see someone that you consider your idol make the exact opposite choice! Then all the doubts come flooding back in! What were you thinking? They must have some insider secrets that you have no clue about. What are you going to do?

Well, I would start researching even more to get a clue, figure out what they know or why they chose the way they did. That will be the answer; more research. A few years ago, this would have definitely been my predicament!

If you find yourself in that situation right now, let me reveal a secret, a pretty big secret. You have no competition. Let me say that again, “You have NO competition!”

Am I insane? Crazy? No, not really. But I know something that maybe you don’t. I learned years ago that no matter what industry I had chosen, no matter what type of business I was entering into, there was one factor that my business would have that others in my local community wouldn’t have — ME! 

You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh!” But just hear me out! In any given city of considerable size, how many successful wedding photographers are there? How many successful baby or pet photographers? Surely there are more than a couple. They each have a certain experience, perspective, focus, unique skill set.

No two photographers, no two business owners are alike. No one successful business owner can service all of the demand in a given area! Not one service provider is right for all customers or clients! So, what does this actually mean and how can you use it to your advantage?

I have great news! I am saying, “Relax! Just be you!”

Go back to the basics:

  • Create a business Plan. Define your short and long term goals that suit you and your particular product or service.
  • Have an adviser team for taxes, legalities, disclosures, contracts, marketing, and so on.
  • Follow through with your action plan. No one knows you and your unique situation better than YOU.
  • Never ever compare yourself, your product, or your services to someone else. Keep up with what your competition is doing, but only compete with yourself. Outdo your last quarter sales, increase your new signups, sell more artwork than the year before. Be the best YOU that you can be!
  • Review, revise, repeat your way to success! YOUR definition of success!

There are many reasons why I find Fine Art Photography suits me best. But the #1 reason, (as I said in my July 2014 post, Welcome To My World, about what a Fine Art Photographer does), “Through photography, the photographer attempts to convey a personal impression. Instead of being hired to fulfill a request by another and receive a commission for doing so, they photograph to fulfill their own creative vision.”

So we could get a dozen photographers together for a photo shoot and each photo would be as unique as the artist who shot it. We could then ask a room full of purchasers which photo they preferred above the rest and I’ll bet each photographer would have someone who liked their’s best!

Do what you can to make informed decisions, do research, keep up with the latest marketing techniques and technology. But just do it! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You certainly will. Learn and grow from them and keep moving foward reaching your goals and beyond!


There are 18 comments

  1. Kyle Holcomb

    Great message within your post. Starting, keeping, and growing your business is very difficult, but it can be done if you are dedicated and willing to learn. As you mentioned, being unique is a huge advantage and selling feature that everyone should capitalize on. Thank you for sharing!

    • Deborah

      Thank you for your comments Kyle.

      I know by visiting your blog the other day, you are definitely dedicated to your business. That’s what it takes, it’s a journey not a destination.

      Glad you found value in my post.


  2. Jenni Ryan

    Hi Deborah

    I can see and feel your passion for your work and even that alone is your own uniquness.

    But you are right everyone has their USP and this is how we attract the people who believe what we believe and see the same things as we do.

    NIce post.

    • Deborah

      Thank you so much Jenni!

      Passion is a key ingredient for me. Otherwise, it isn’t really worth doing. I don’t want a j-o-b, I am slowing down at this stage of my life. I love the freedom to create and make my own schedule.

      Wishing you all the online success you can handle! :)

      Deborah recently posted…What Is In A Name? Your Brand.My Profile

  3. Monna Ellithorpe

    Hi Deborah, This is my first visit to your blog and I agree with the others, your photos are gorgeous.

    This post has hit home with me this week because I have been second guessing myself for a while and finally, thanks to a “wise couple” I talked with the other day, I am moving forward and trusting my own instincts.

    Wishing you great success
    Monna Ellithorpe recently posted…Be Consistent With Branding YourselfMy Profile

    • Deborah

      Hello Monna!

      Glad you stopped by and enjoyed your visit. It can be so overwhelming trying to decide exactly what is right for you and your business! There are so many options, choices, opinions. Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics. No one knows “you” as well as you do!

      Glad I could help, if even in a small way.

      Thank you, much success to you too!


  4. donna merrill

    Hi Deborah,

    What I love the most about this article is that we are not in competition! If we start competing with others in our niche, we will get unfocused, confused, and most of all loose the very essence of our own voice.

    There are bazillions of folks in my niche and the only way I can stand out is to be myself. Of course, give the best content I can to my readers, and have a good ear to listen to what my readers want.

    It’s the only way to go. Once we are not in competition, it is easier to focus on a business plan that is unique to us. We have to factor in so many things and as long as we do…business will start to fly.


    • Deborah

      So glad you stopped by Donna!

      My niche is huge as well. I truly believe that each of us is so unique that there is room for all! Instead of trying to compete or having an attitude that it’s “me” versus “them” attitude, it makes much more sense to join each other to promote the given niche that we love, bring attention to it, and support each other! I’m sure I’ll have many disagree, but this is my opinion. Isn’t this much more professional? :)

      Focus is so important in business. I think negative energy is such a waste. Put it into produces the best value that you can instead.

      Much success to you Donna!


  5. donna merrill

    Hi Deborah,

    Your landing page blows me away. You are one great photographer!

    We do have to plan so much for business success. Before we get started, we need to have a clear view of our goals. Then, take the necessary steps to achieve them.

    Oh yes things can change as we go along, but I find the most important thing of all is to keep up with marketing trends..they are always changing.


    • Deborah

      Donna, your kind words mean a great deal! I work hard, continue to be a student of life, always striving to be better!

      When it comes to business success, I like to work backwards; begin with the end in mind. You are so right about marketing trends. It seems like you just start implementing “the latest marketing technique,” and then something else is the new “best practice.”

      Thank you for commenting. I am learning a lot from you Donna!


  6. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Deborah, I just loved your landing page, what an Awesome collection of photo’s! YOU ROCK!!
    I did finally make it here to your blog though LOL

    Now this is a very good article, you are so right never compare yourself to anyone, we are all unique in our own way HUH?

    Thanks for sharing, Chery :))

  7. Justin Iskandar

    Hey Deborah,

    Nice blog. I love the photos at your main page. I’ve always love photography.
    Look forward to see more of your Fine Arts collection.
    I love and living the quote “Relax, Just be You”
    Best wishes,

  8. Liz Delaney

    I love you post, Deborah. I agree with everything you say. I also agree that a few years ago, I would have felt the same insecurities. I made a choice, then kept doubting that choice even though it felt right at the time. Sometimes I still do. However, being ‘ME’ is all I can be. I have made the decision now, in this new area of my life, to just go with what feels right, put my all into it and keep trying. I already have connected with peopel who appreciate what I do. It feels great.
    Thanks for a terrific post.

    • Deborah

      So glad you enjoyed the post Liz! I think it’s so important to be genuine online, be who you truly are. Then the right people find you and connect with you!

      I’m so glad that you are following your intuition and trusting yourself. I read a great deal, do a lot of research, and I often see a pattern of what seems to be the best direction. Then I use my intuition to see if that is the right choice for myself. It takes a lot of stress away from the process.

      Best wishes!

      Deborah recently posted…Which Way Is The Right Way Forward To Success?My Profile

  9. Sue Bride

    My step daughter is trying to build a photography business and this is an ideal article for her to read. However, as you say, the same applies to any business – you can find your own market however large the competition. Each one of us is unique and will attract at least some of the market.

    Blogging is a great way to allow people to get to know you and to give them value over and above just a website saying what you do.

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