Confused as to why it’s beneficial to have a photography business plan? Here is our step-by-step outline to achieve your goals!
So I bet you’re wondering why exactly you need a photography business plan? I know, it seems like a boatload of work and technically it’s not reeealllly necessary, but I can assure you that a business plan will set you apart from your competition and benefit you in ways you can’t fully realize quite yet. What a photography business plan will do it really set you up for long-term success by outlining the major components you’ll need to maintain a healthy and prospering business! Here is our break down of what your business plan should include.
What does your business do?
This may seem obvious, but what does your business do? Do you plan to install yourself in a studio or small boutique, or are you going to be an outdoor natural light photographer that is strictly “on location?” Are you going to focus on weddings, kids, newborns or families? Are you going to sell prints or just digital images? Or maybe you want to do in-person sales, where you meet with your clients after a session and sell prints and products? These are all questions that will get you thinking about what exactly you want to specialize in. You can quickly eliminate what you don’t love and focus on what you DO love!
Outline a mission statement!
A mission statement is anywhere from a few words to a couple of sentences, all the way to a paragraph that describes your purpose as a business. What types of services you offer, goals, and how you plan to connect with your market. This is how you plan to sell your business to your clients, so it should be well thought out and unique!
For example, “To inspire connection, love, and self-acceptance through modern portrait imagery.”
You can Google “mission statements” to get a better idea of examples! It’s really not as difficult as you think! Just take a jab at it.
Analyze your market!
What is your target market and where do they reside? Are they in your small town, or do you need to expand your marketing to surrounding areas? Who is your ideal customer and how would you describe them? Seriously, write down a list of WHO they are. What is the competition like in your market? I know we don’t want to get on the comparison train, but Google three local photographers and see what they’re charging. You can use this information to draft what you’ll offer. Don’t feel like you have to be EXACTLY like them either!!! In fact, how are you going to be different?!
Define a sales strategy!
Most of us photographers don’t really consider ourselves business gurus, so this is where we need to dig deep and figure out the little details of our business. *A fun fact, taking pictures is probably only going to make up maybe 20-30% of your business! So, WHAT are you going to sell, and how are you going to make that available to your clients? Are you using an online gallery delivery system like Pixieset or Shootproof? Are you going to make prints available through a professional printing lab, and if so, how much are you going to charge?
Build a team vision!
If you’re an introvert like me, you probably like the idea of working alone! But, unfortunately running a successful business is going to be a group effort. As you grow, you may need to employ the help of other photographers or professionals, such as accountants or lawyers (especially if you decided to become a full-blown LLC or S-Corp)!
Who is going to run the business with you? What roles will be involved in day to day operation? Can you outsource some of the daily duties, like editing or bookkeeping?
Forecast strengths and weaknesses.
I know we don’t particularly like to admit to our weaknesses, but it’s all part of the job so get used to it. You should ask yourself, and note in the future, the aspects of your business that you don’t love or could improve. This is vital to growth! The good part is, we also get to outline our strengths! What are you REALLY good at? How can you leverage that to grow your business? Don’t be shy!
Set yourself apart in business!
How are you going to be different to gain clients in your market? Let’s be real, there are a million photographers out there, but there is only ONE of you. How do you bring your personality to your business? What are you going to offer that no one in your area offers? In-person sales? High-end products? Special offers? Referral rewards? How can you break the mold and get people to notice you?
Figure out your financial needs and obligations!
What’s your budget? Most photographers get their start with a beginner camera and one kit lens! They slowly start learning and building their portfolio, gaining clients and can eventually upgrade their gear! There is no shame is growing slowly, so have realistic expectations! You’ll also need to access your incidental fees. How much are memory cards, and how many will you need? Are you paying monthly for editing software? Make sure to write down all the little things, because they tend to add up rather quickly!
Decide on your main short-term and long-term goals!
What do you want to achieve with the business in the near future and in the next five years? Write your goals down so you can track to them! Set goals that are challenging for you, but can still be achieved within a realistic time frame. What do you want to do in the next few weeks or months, and maybe set a yearly goal! Writing them all down is your best bet, as you can track and make changes to these goals.
Be proud of yourself!!!
Seriously, after it’s all said and done, writing a business plan takes some serious work and introspection. Taking the time to really think about all of these issues will serve you well in any business. When you know what your goals are (from financial all the way to the client experience) you won’t get hung up on the small details. Challenging yourself may be uncomfortable, but without a doubt, will allow you to reach an entirely new level within yourself and your photography business! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!