So, you’ve got your portfolio ready. Now what?

Going pro is more than having a portfolio

Many of you who visit this blog are experienced photographers looking to make a few bucks or even a full time income with photography.

When you have your portfolio website ready and are transitioning from amateur to pro, there are a few important things you need to consider on your road to becoming a successful professional photographer. You need to understand:

  • how to utilize social media
  • how to market your photography
  • how to price your photography

Social Media

I’ve always loved Twitter, but I mostly use it to connect with my peers. According to my own survey results, not too many of my subscribers use Twitter. They are more comfortable with Facebook.

In the past, I stayed away from Facebook. I didn’t care for it much, and some days I still get frustrated with the constant changes. I realize that it’s not going away, and that I better get with it or get left out of the biggest playing field in social media.

Nowadays, my most engaged audience is on YouTube. I use YouTube as a list building tool and as a way to get people to know, like and trust me. I post a new video each week and I reply to every comment – the sensible ones anyhow.

Now that I’m using Facebook on a daily basis, I understand the direct benefits of social networking first hand.

In my own business of teaching people photography, I use my Facebook page to have two-way conversations. One way I do this is by having a weekend photo challenge where I come up with an assignment, and then invite my “Likers” to post their assignment photos on my page. Everyone who posts a photo gets a mini critique.

There is more to social media than Facebook and Twitter.

A friend recommended this book to me a few months back. Wow, do I ever wish I had this back when I was starting out. But I started out long before the internet was even conceived. Things are really different now. The authors of The linked photographers’ guide to online marketing and social media, have this to say,

“Although the barrier to starting a photography business has been lowered, the climb to a successful photography career has become steeper. Professional photographers need every advantage today to attract new customers.”

This book is a great resource on how to use social media tools including:

  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr
  • and SEO to get higher Google juice for your blog.

Marketing

I never understood marketing when I was a full time photographer. That’s a pretty awful thing to admit, considering I was supporting myself with my photography. I was fortunate enough to meet people at the right time and lucky enough to get long-term contracts from those clients. My marketing wasn’t planned. Sure, I had a portfolio website. I made it myself in fact. Was it ever ugly. But at the time I didn’t see the need to spend thousands of dollars on a professionally designed site, especially if I was too busy to take on more work. That was also before social media and WordPress. Now everything is different and photographers can do a lot of this themselves.

Marketing and design are interconnected.

I finally learned about marketing this past year. I met this amazing designer and teacher, Pamela Wilson. Pamela started the Big Brand System just over a year ago. Her lessons taught me design skills, but more important than that, she really helped me with my marketing. The Big Brand System teaches the inter-connectivity between design and marketing. Now I can do both with confidence.

Pricing

The number one question I get from photographers transitioning to pro status is: What should I charge? Pricing is the black hole of professional photography. Many newly pro photographers just don’t know where to start. You’re competing with shrinking photo budgets and good digital cameras that have many clients shooting their own work that is “good enough” for their purposes.

It’s tempting to give your work away for free or cheap when starting out.

Use that tactic sparingly. Once you start down that road with a client, they’ll only call you when they want a freebie. (Been there, done that!)

To operate a sustainable business, you’ll need to:

  • Figure out your overhead and other studio costs
  • Decide what you want to pay yourself
  • Pay your rent or mortgage
  • Upgrade equipment regularly
  • Be able to send your kids to college

What is your client’s budget?

Most photographers forget to ask their client what the budget for a job is. If it’s a low budget or no budget job, then you need to negotiate something that works for both of you, or pass on the job. Sometimes when you say no, the client has a way of finding some money.

Shakodo online pricing site

Shakodo is a peer-to-peer membership community about pricing and licensing photography. It is a good place to go when starting out in corporate work. There are a lot of amateurs transitioning to pros using this site, so it won’t be as intimidating if you’re new to the biz.

Pricing for wedding and portrait photographers – and more

Photographers-Pricing-Guide

Jamie Swanson and her husband shoot weddings and family photos. Jamie has a series of articles on pricing your work. The information she gives will cross over to many other photography businesses as well. She’s got lots of other great photo business tips on her site too. I know many of you could really use this information for your business, no matter what stage you’re in. Click here to visit The Modern Tog.

Ask the pros

Professional organizations can also help you with pricing and setting up a photography business:

Assisting photographers from these organizations is also a great way to learn about the photo business and pricing.

Sharing is Caring

These modern business tools have one common thread. Photographers are more willing than ever to share their knowledge, their techniques and their photos. This trend is being led by top pros like Joe McNally and Chase Jarvis. Photographers of today are less worried about protecting their secrets than in the past. They write blog posts on technique and share their latest photos on Facebook and Flickr. The photographers who share knowledge with other photographers gain industry respect.

Do you want to go pro? Are you in transition?

Going Pro covers all these topics and more… Click here to view more details

Check out the Going Pro kit!

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