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Studio photography can elevate the photography you are doing now, taking your hobby to a professional level or your current business model into something even more successful.
Setting up a studio and offering studio sessions to clients allows you to offer professional photography as a long-term profitable enterprise.
What are the keys to setting up a successful photo studio and having a business and marketing strategy that works?
1. Develop a Solid Business Strategy
The first step in creating a successful photography business is to create a sound business strategy. The most common reasons new businesses fail is because they don’t plan. They take a hobby or activity and just start charging people without first creating a solid business plan.
Just because people pay you to take photographs doesn’t mean you will have long-term success in studio or portrait photography. You need to assess where you are and determine where you want to be and then set up a plan to get there. This involves a strategy for branding, marketing, pricing, and more.
2. Offer Quality Service and Photographs
Studio photography is about more than just taking pictures. You need to provide a professional experience for your clients and run your studio as you would any other successful business.
You also need to be able to provide professional photographs that meet the needs of your clients. This requires having the equipment and the space you need and making your environment one that is welcoming and professional.
Today’s professional photography market is competitive and you need to make sure you have the tools and ability to keep up.
3. Know Your Cost of Doing Business and Use It to Create Profits
Knowing how much it costs you to do business is essential to your long-term success. The cost of doing business is known as your overhead. It’s how much you need to operate your business and includes things like cameras, lenses, rent for the space you’re using if you don’t own it, sets, and other equipment.
Once you know this cost, you can move forward with planning your pricing strategy to ensure that you’ll be competitive with other photographers as well as profitable enough to stay in business over the long haul.
After you’ve developed a pricing strategy and you’ve begun to see some profit – which can take some time – you want to develop marketing strategies that incorporate pricing.
For instance, you might offer a temporary discount for your photography services in which you offer clients a selection of photos without having to pay for photo shoots.
Or may you offer to charge prospective clients for the session and not require purchase of a minimum number of photographs or a specific dollar amount of prints.
The key is to get creative and look for opportunities to offer value to your target audience without damaging your profits.
4. Improve Your Efficiency
It’s no secret that the early days of running any business, especially that of professional photographers, feature several stumbling blocks. It might take a year or more to see a profit depending on your initial investment and how many clients you work with at the beginning.
For most small business owners, the lean early days are worth it once they are running a successful photography business.
One way business owners can improve operations once things are up and running for a studio photography business is to improve efficiency. The more efficiently you work, the more clients you can see or the more time you can free up to scale your business in other ways.
The key to improving efficiency is to avoid getting stuck in one part of your workflow.
Have you found that editing takes you far longer than you think it should?
Do client sessions eat up more time than you’re scheduling for them and you frequently run behind schedule?
You can tweak these things to improve efficiency.
Sometimes the way to improve your current state is to examine your workflow when you are not in the thick of things. Write out the steps you take for each client from the onboarding phase through the end and then estimate how much time you think each step should take.
Next, when you’re working with clients, track the actual time of each step. If you notice disparities, examine what’s causing them and determine what you can do to fix them.
It takes time, but eventually, most small business owners get the hang of a solid workflow and move through their work as efficiently (and profitably!) as possible.
5. Grow Your Business
Now that you’ve got the basics down and you’ve built a moderately successful studio photography business, it’s time to plan to grow that business into something bigger and better.
Maybe you’re happy with how things are, and that’s fine. Growth and business goals don’t always mean taking on another client or more overhead expenses.
It might be as simple as earning more money from your existing business or keeping sales and profits steady while enjoying more time away from your business.
Or it might mean investing in new equipment to keep up with changing technology.
Growth is flexible. And as the owner of a successful photography business, you can choose your long-term business goals and figure out what growing your business looks like for you.
Regardless of how you approach growth, it’s important not to sacrifice anything you’ve built. Never sacrifice quality for the sake of growth.
If clients rely on you for professional studio sessions that result in great looking professional photographs, maintain that and look for ways to make it better.
The most successful businesses take what they are doing right and improve on it or incorporate new things into their existing business model.
These five steps will help you launch and grow a successful studio photography business.