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I am a second year HND photgraphy student at Reid Kerr College Paisley. The course finishes in June and i am hoping to set up in business as a social and commercial photographer probably working from home initially. Does anyone have any good advice on how to go about it? My sister has also started my website and i was hoping to get some feedback on that aswell!
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Please don't be offended by this or think I am being patronising but the world is full of people who finish collge courses and think they can plunge straight into business (of whatever calling) and the world will beat a path to their door.
For the majority of people, this just doesn't happen.
College courses do not give you any grounding in how to run a business. Do you know anything about book-keeping, employment legislation, liability insurance, pricing, advertisng, marketing etc etc etc.
There are good images on your website but the ability to take a good photograph is no basis on which to start a business. I would recommend you get yourself seconded to an established working professional until you have some experience under your belt and can see how things operate in the real world.
Sounds harsh? Maybe but it might just save you from bankrupting yourself in a year fom now. The fact that you are finishing the course in June and yet just three months before hand you are asking the question 'how do I set myself up in business' tells me that you are not ready to take that step right now.
Don't be in too much of a hurry to take that first step as a professional. You have your whole professional life ahead of you and to rush into it now without enough experience or judgement could ruin your future prospects.
I agree with Barrie, there is a lot more to running a business, I'd suggest you take a good business management course, one that includes marketing. Being able to take good images is not the most important skill in running a photo business, being able to sell yourself is.
Have a look in yellow pages under photographers, there are dozens of them, you will have your work cut out to stay afloat without business know how and being able to project your self as better quality or value; or both; than the others.
I had a back ground in marketing and a lifetimes photo knowhow when I jumped off the rat race a few years back but it still took me four or five years to become established with the local commercial world. Good luck, you're going to need it!
Thanks for the comments however i have worked with a professional photographer for 7yrs before taking on this course. I am hoping to go into partnership with my friend whom has bookkeeping expierence, marketing ect. and is a very good pr person also. I am now 27yrs old and feel that i have got something that i am able to market in my area. I dont want to dive in i do however want to build up the business over a long period of time while also taking on a full time job.
Thanks for taking the time to comment cheers
If you are starting part time while doing a full time job you are going to be busy. This was my idea 4 years ago. I now find myself in a bit of a dilemma. My part time work does not generate enough income for me to give up my full-time work, and I can not advertise for more work because I would not have enough time to fill the orders. I already work 14 hours a day on a regular basis. I think that if I had just gone ahead and taken the plunge in 1999 I would now be well established with my business but I had a mortgage to pay and the banks are only so helpful.
Exactly right Barry. Thats where I stand at the moment. Busy with either job but can't live on the one I want to do. Hey, one day. Cheers.
Try "Small Business for DUMMIES" (Wiley publishing). It was written for the American market, but it's a very useful book and can give you some very important pointers.
Thanks everyone! I guess i will have to look into things a litter deeper!! Cheers
It helps enormously if you can find a niche to concentrate on. If you attack the general market, you will always have to compete with lots of bigger, more established companies who have been doing the same thing for years. Do think about what you can offer the client that other businesses don't or can't.
I may be a bit late onto the bandwagon of advice.
One very important part of running a business is pricing your product. Most business's which fail price their product too low. Price your photographs or services at a level which attracts clients but which also gives you enough profit to make it all worth while. Most people who work as part time photographers, holding down a full time job get stuck in a rut because the price they charge is not high enough for them to give up their employment.
I htank you all for your helpful advice. I am now in the process of talking to a business advisor. Hopefully to find out about taking the next step. I will let you all know how i get on! Cheers
Suzanne, small point perhaps; have you ever considered what turning professional would do to your outlook on photography? I ask this because if you eat, sleep, breath photography then please give this some serious thought. Turning professional or even semi-pro could turn a pleasure into a real pain. However, if it is your intention to make your living from photography, then go for it. In the big bad world, success is probably 10% skill and technique, 90% luck and opportunity. Wish you luck. Producing successful images for ePHOTzine is one thing, but the general public could prove more critical. Finding out what pleases Joe Public is the secret. Determination, stamina, the will to succeed will take you there. You sound like you could do it. Best of luck.
Interesting point, John. I was wondering about this recently - how many of those who turn professional actually still enjoy their photography once it becomes their job? Everyone wants to earn a living from something they enjoy, but you forget that it isn't about taking photos from 9-5 everyday. Even though I'm doing a C&G course, I'm not sure whether I want to aim at going pro. My ambition is still to sell pictures and see them in print, but with pictures that I WANT to take, not HAVE to take. Wedding photography certainly doesn't interest me. And at 30, with a reasonably well paid job and a mortgage, I think the prospect of giving it up & diving into a well covered market as an unknown sometimes seems too daunting.
ps. I should add that this wasn't intended to be a negative comment, and, Suzanne, if you know it's what you want to do then go for it and good luck!!
Go for it Suzanne. If you are careful and put in enough time, and have a goal, I believe anyone can do anything they want to.
Good luck in your new venture
In reply to munkyboy. Steve, I've been earning a living from photography since 1985 and still enjoy it today. By taking photographs which I have to take for clients it gives an me an income and plenty of free time to take photos which I want to take. Having said that there is more to running a business than just taking photographs. I now employ 3 people, but in the early days I was, Chief Buyer, Salesman, Bookeeper, Advertising Manager, Customer Services Manager, and Photographer.
I don't take any photographs without a sale in mind but I still enjoy it. Part of the buzz is someone liking our photographs enough to buy them.
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