I see a lot of photographers who go through the motions of shooting and editing, and it goes something like this:
They’re in the office at 8:00am, then head out the door to the first of two or three photo shoots they have for the day. With all of the driving and time spent on site waiting for the agent or homeowner to get things ready they finally get home again at about 5:00pm.
After grabbing dinner with their partner, they sit down at their computer and start editing their images. It takes quite a while to download, edit and deliver everything, and they finally finish at 10:00pm at night.
Then they do the same thing the next day, and the next day, and the next day.
They think they are business owners.
They think they’re in control.
In reality, they are more like factory workers in a third-world country. Busy all day, and editing late into the night, they charge low rates and make nothing.
It shouldn’t be that way, so here’s what you should be doing instead:
Be as committed to the business side as you are to the creative side
Most photographers get into this business because they love being creative, and they love taking images and working with clients to achieve a specific goal. That’s a wonderful thing, and it’s something I want to encourage you to pursue! The world needs more creativity and beauty, and as real estate and architectural photographers, this is something that we can give to the world to save it from ugly real estate photos!
The point is that real estate photographers need to be more committed than they often are to the business side of things. This business side includes marketing online and offline, pricing, legal matters, and everything that you do, or could do, away from shooting and editing.
Let’s go over three of the things you ought to be committed to as the owner of a photography business.
Be committed to marketing:
Do you spend multiple hours each week working on your marketing sequences, testing and measuring everything to make sure that what you’re doing is optimized to give the best possible result?
Some marketing experts recommend that small business owners spend 80% of their time on marketing. Now that may not be possible for you, but you should be spending at least two hours per week just working on your marketing.
Are you creating fresh content for your website and social media channels on a daily or weekly basis?
I recently did a review of the websites and Facebook Pages of 21 real estate photographers, and of those just one had posted something on their blog in the past month, and even that was simply a collection of photographs.
Those 21 photographers were a little more active on Facebook, but even there 11 of the photographers had not posted anything at all to their Facebook Page in the past month.
As a business owner we either need to be doing all of this content creation ourselves, or we need to be hiring people to manage this side of our business as we oversee the business like a CEO and manage client interactions and product delivery.
Why does content creation matter? When people are looking for a photographer these days they will almost always go online and do a search. When you add more content to your website you increase the chances of someone finding you, you provide more educational resources so people can see why they should hire you, and you have more content that you can intentionally share with clients and prospects.
Be committed to learning:
Do you read business books, listen to entrepreneurial podcasts, and meet with a mentor or business coach to talk about business matters?
Growing as a business owner takes commitment and learning, and the very best entrepreneurs bury themselves in learning because they know it makes a difference, even when they reach the very top in their chosen profession. If you look at people like Richard Branson or Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey, they all had a business coach after they became hugely successful, and they all read a lot of books.
It’s the same in professional sport, where the elite tennis players and golfers still have a coach, or multiple coaches, guiding them in different areas of their game. If the learning process continues for those ranked number one in the world, how much more important is it for small business owners like yourself?
The advantage of working with a coach is that they can help you see things that you can’t because you’re too close to the action. A coach or mentor can also provide you with a framework for moving forward, so you have a plan for where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.
So whether you work with a business coach, or read a lot of books, or join a networking group with other local business owners, the act of taking on the heart of a learner who is constantly looking to grow and improve their business will have significant benefits over the short and long term.
Be committed to your business:
Some photographers treat their business as if they are still an employee. They arrive at their desk, sit down, and go through the motions day after day. They don’t do any forward planning, or take a review of where they’ve been going in the past quarter or the past year.
They never think about hiring anyone, or passing on non-critical tasks to other people who are either better trained in those specialist roles, or who can be paid lower hourly wages for non-specialist roles.
They don’t pursue further training for themselves in communication, finance or law in order to give themselves a better base from which they can understand the intricacies of their business. After all, they see themselves as photographers, since that is what they are passionate about and it’s all they ever wanted to do.
And that’s the problem – they only see themselves as photographers, and not as a business owner or a CEO. But if you own your own photography business then you need to take on those responsibilities of ownership. You need to be looking for fresh opportunities into which you can diversify your business. You need to treat that business as if it were a living thing that needs to be nurtured and cared for and fed.
You also need to remember that, as a business, the day will come when you will want to sell that business, and like a turkey before a holiday feast, you need to make sure that it’s nice and fat. No-one is going to want to buy a skinny turkey with no meat on the bones, and no-one is going to want to pay top price for your business if you haven’t fattened it up and got it to the point where it’s looking like an irresistible investment. Take care of business, and prepare it for the new owner, so that the day you sell it will be the biggest payday of your life!
This commitment to marketing, learning, and your business is just some of what you could be working on if you want to make sure you’re building a business, and not just doing a job. Take control of your business, be committed to marketing and learning, act like an entrepreneur, and you will build your photography business!
About Darryl Stringer:
Darryl Stringer is a business growth specialist who transformed his own photography business from nothing to one that turned over $2.7 million in sales, and he now assists architectural and real estate photographers around the world with their marketing, photography, and pricing. A lot of photographers struggle with the business side of photography, and Darryl’s program fills that gap and pushes photographers on to greater things. As one of his photography clients put it:
“After joining [Darryl’s program] and receiving all the information needed to really lift the business I was able to turn it into a successful business in what I would consider a short amount of time.”
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