You might be photographing just for fun, but if you’ve ever even thought about creating an income out of your practice – and by the way, artists can make do this too! – then you will want to know how to create a photography business plan.
The idea of building a business plan does sound less artistically intriguing for all you contemporary artists, but becoming an artist also needs an organised plan in order for you to grow in your practice.
Whether you want to know how to start a photography business or take your existing one to the next level, the best place to start is with a plan. A photography business plan is a process that outlines what you hope to accomplish with your business or practice in the future.
We often think artists just magically get their work exhibited or published in magazines, but also the seemingly coincidental events have action behind them.
I know many artists who plan and execute strategic action in order to grow their practice.
As your business goes through change, you can use a detailed plan to measure your progress and re-focus your goals. In addition, if you are planning to pitch your practice to potential galleries, specific clients or photo agency opportunities, having a clear plan will help you bring credibility to your business. This way you can provide them with a clear plan for your photography, and come out as a prepared photographer.
Taking the right steps to showcase your photography services beyond your online portfolio website can set you off on the right foot and continuously help you attract the opportunities you’re looking for.
Why exactly do you need to make a business plan?
I am sure you connect creating a business plan to startups and bigger organisations. But a business plan can also be created for entrepreneurs; to clarify your goals, your target audience and what you want the direction of your photographic style to be.
We know running a small business is hard. You may have heard the lifespan statistic that 20% of small businesses fail in their first 2 years, 30% fail in their first 3 years, and 50% fail after operating for 5 years.
While this number is discouraging, the number one reason for the small business mortality rate is the lack of financial and strategic planning.
This is why using available tools is essential to your business’s long-term success and to your ability to grow if your field.
A well-executed plan is critical in keeping you on-track with your goals and identifying where your practice is lagging.
What To Add To Your Photography Business Plan
While you can customize the components of a detailed plan to suit your needs, these are the main ones to have
- A summary of your future goals
- Your practice / business description
- Photography portfolio
- Target audience
- Monthly expenses
- Timeline of your plan
I will go into detail on what exactly these components are.
A summary of your future goals
The summary of your goals is roughly a 50-250 word section at the start of your photography practice that focuses on the big-picture goals and outcomes of your practice.
This section summarizes the entirety of the document and should serve as the elevator pitch for your practice.
As yourself “What are 3-5 things I want my clients to remember me by?”
Some of the elements to include in your summary are your experience, your specialties (ex. commercial photography or video) and key components of your business that contribute to your success.
Where do you see your company in 3-5 years; what are the values you want to focus on?
Make a clear description about your company
While you may have a clear vision for your business inside your head, being able to write it down for yourself and future clients will aid you in your professional success.
When compiling your description, it’s important to be as specific as possible.
Include information like the nature of your practice; whether you’re a wedding photographer or a photo artist.
You can also add details from the starting point of your practice; from where you started and what are the aspects of your practice at the given moment.
Describe your services
This is the place to talk about the types of photography services and products you offer, and ones you plan on expanding into in the near future.
As part of your products and services description, provide a comprehensive pricing model. This I do feel is great to have if you do wedding-, family- or maternity photohsoots. If you are selling your artwork, the pricing will vary depending on the work.
Also, if you shoot for magazines or make post-production for the images, I would price the work differently per clientele. But pricing your work will come with time, as you learn your own photography style and the direction you are aiming for.
Who Is Your Audience?
Targeting your audience is no simple task, as in the beginning you want to serve everyone. Nevertheless, it helps you to focus on a specific nichè and you can start perfecting your practice when you’re more focused. You’ll end up wasting money marketing your product to people who don’t need or have any interest in it.
To understand your target audience, you can research your local market to get a better sense of where there is demand. Try looking in associated forums like Facebook groups to see what types of photographers people are looking to hire as well as a ballpark of the budget people have.
If you would say your work falls into the artistic field, try to find your audience in art exhibitions or other platforms such as magazines.
Understanding your target audience means researching your local market to identify where demand exists. You can search Facebook groups to see what kinds of photographers people are hiring and how much they’re willing to pay.
This only works for photographers who are clearly focusing on the demand and providing a photography service for the customer.
For example, a wedding photographer should join relevant local event planning groups on social media to build connections and promote their wedding photography services.
While a target audience looks different for everyone, it’s important for your photography business to have a few areas of specialty that help build up credibility and steadily bring in clients. Whatever your field is, make sure your work is aesthetically consistent, which will also work as an introduction to know you as a photographer.
Define Your Strategy
You can start without a strategy, with only your passion guiding you. But eventually you will need to create one where you define where your practice is heading in the future.
This will make it so much easier for you and you will gain more out of your practice, once you do this in the beginning of your business.
Do you want to be known for your artistic practice and accomplishments or maybe your goal is to become the most well-known commercial photographer. Once you know which one you’re aiming for, you can also figure out where your market is; social media, publications or galleries?
Outline clearly where you want to focus and define your strategy with clear steps and actions you’re going to take.
Any platforms, channels, or mechanisms you’ll use to promote your company and to attract customers will require a detailed plan.
As family portrait photographer you might be using email marketing campaigns to alert your customers about holiday discounts, your social media presence which can greatly enhance your success if that’s where your audience is.
Your online photography portfolio is an essential part of how you present yourself and categorize your photography style. After you make your potential audience aware of your practice, they will seek out your digital presence to explore your work to further grasp the way you work.
You can learn how to build a portfolio website the right way with this guide.
Make sure you know your expenses
Even if you are shooting on digital, any expenses you’re having should be carefully planned. Otherwise you will not be able to track the pricing of your work if you are not aware of how much your overall business is costing you.
Add things like your monthly studio rent, any subscriptions you might have, film cost and equipment insurances.
Many photographers choose to conduct business out of a home studio with intermittent access to a professional studio. Meanwhile, commercial photographers almost always rely on a professional studio to conduct their business.
Understanding your expenses, also helps you to plan for potential opportunities in the future since you can already tell if it’s an opportunity you can afford to grab onto.
To help you get started, I made a photography business plan template for you, which you can get here!
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