Running your own business is tough. I absolutely love being my own boss, but it took me a while to get to this point of confidence in my business. I have definitely made a lot of mistakes, but I have made some great decisions as well. These decisions and choices have led to a more efficient and successful business that allows me to best serve my ideal clients. Today I’ll be discussing the 5 best things I have done for my photography business.
1) Establish efficient systems and stick to them
It definitely took some time to develop a workflow system that worked for me. However, once it was established, my work became streamlined and I have become better able to deliver the same quality product to my clients in a fraction of the time. From the initial email to sending the final gallery, everything I do has become a well-oiled machine and I am able to handle taking on more work. I have also been able to bring on an Associate Photographer to grow my business even further.
Some workflow tools I recommend:
– Canned responses on Gmail for prompt communication
– 17hats for sending invoices, contracts, and questionnaires
– Excel or Google Sheets for organizing to-do lists
– PASS for delivering galleries
2) Outsource and delegate
Before I outsourced part of my workflow, I’d shoot one or two weddings in a weekend and then spend the entire next week going through thousands (and thousands) of photos. Emails, administrative tasks, creative development, and my sanity went by the wayside. I realized I could be utilizing this business time more efficiently by outsourcing the bulk of my editing. Yes, of course, there is a cost involved, but this was the smartest decision for my business in order to make better use of both my business efforts and personal time. I cull through all the photos, edit about 200 photos that “tell the story of the day” for the blog and for vendors, and then send the Lightroom catalog to my editor. She then uses the edits I applied to the 200 photos to edit the remaining 400-600 photos. With this system in place, I’m able to deliver the final gallery to my clients within 1-2 weeks. Clients love the fast turnaround with the same high standard of quality.
3) Invest in yourself
Yes, being self-taught in your photography business can work. But it can also take a long time. You go through lots of trial and error which is certainly beneficial, but in this industry where everything is visual and plastered over the internet, minimizing the “error” part is ideal. In order to expedite my growth, I invested in mentorships and workshops to refine my craft. Do some research to find the photographers and industry leaders from whom you want to learn.
4) Connect with other photographers
Working without coworkers can get lonely, so it’s so refreshing to grab a cup of coffee with a fellow photographer and chat about the trials and joys of owning your own business. This builds great industry friendships as well as a strong referral network. 25% of my wedding inquiries come from photographer referrals. Don’t go about this alone! Connect to others, grow your referral network, and make friends.
5) Learn to say no and give your “yes”s 100%
I kindly state on my website that I select my couples as much as they select me. I believe I’m able to provide the highest quality of work to my clients when we share similar values towards creativity. Yes, in the beginning of my business I took on as much work as I could. Initially, this was sufficient for portfolio building and gaining experience, however, this strategy soon became draining as many projects weren’t a good fit. Now I only say “yes” to projects that fill me up and inspire me. I give those clients 100%. By being selective, I am able to give more of myself to each couple.
Sarah Brookhart is a wedding and lifestyle photographer based out of Baltimore, MD serving the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. Sarah specializes in artistically-inspired photojournalism and strives to capture authentic relationship dynamics in her work. In her free time, Sarah enjoys strong coffee, biking, and hanging with her husband and two cats.