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!