As a new photographer, I know you’re ready to dive headfirst into getting your business of the ground! It’s such an exciting time. To do that, you’ll need to invest in some essential software every beginner photographer uses daily. However, I am not one of those coaches who believes you need to invest your whole paycheck to make your first few hundred dollars.
There are stages of starting your photography business. You can start with the bare essentials and invest in more complex business software (I use the word complex loosely, here) as you get a few invoices under your belt.
So, today we’re going to dive into what exactly you need in the very beginning of your photography business.
For New Photographers: 0-2 Clients
If you have less than two paid clients under your belt, your biggest focus should be building your portfolio and client list. That means spending your money on the camera, not the software. (See my favorite camera recommendations for newbies here!)
For you, I recommend starting with the bare minimum: free + necessary.
The Best Way to Book Clients for New Photographers
To get paid, you need what’s called a payment processor. This is software that creates invoices and provides a way to get paid online. You probably know of names like Paypal, Stripe, or Square. They are the top payment processors for business. (Never do Venmo or Cashapp…that’s a story for another day!)
Creating an account on say, Paypal, is free. You’ll just need an email address to sign up. Using a payment processor has its own learning curve, but it allows you to get paid without a website, CRM subscription, or upfront costs. They will charge you a processing fee for each payment you collect. It’s generally between 2.9% – 3.3% + 30 cents per transaction. Don’t ask me why the 30 cents, but they all do it!
Graphic Design Software – Canva
Once you’re ready to advertise your services, it’s good to get graphic design software to make things like your pricing guide, social media posts, or even business cards. Canva is my favorite graphic design software for photographers – hands down!
Canva has tons of assets at your fingertips, like graphics, fonts, animations, etc. They have a free version and a paid version, but you’ll be able to make due in the beginning with the free version. If you’re not sure what to include in your pricing guide, pick up one of my Canva templates that work with the free version of Canva.
Photo Editing Software
Every photographer uses editing software. It’s as important as having a camera! The most popular photo editing software is a toss-up between Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. Both are incredibly powerful tools and require you to learn how to use them. It’s not as easy as Canva.
I recommend watching some YouTube videos and getting a free trial to see which looks more intuitive to you. A subscription to both is just $9.99/month, so even if you can’t decide you can grab both.
Ready to Invest: 3 – 10 Clients
Once you’re starting to book more clients regularly, it’s time to up your client experience. That means graduating from Paypal to a more streamlined Customer Relationship Management software, known as a CRM. Your CRM will take over your invoicing, emailing clients, house your contracts and proposals, and even automate tasks for you. (About time, right?!)
And The Best CRM for Photographers Is…
Honeybook! I can’t say enough good things about Honeybook. I use them for my own business and so do all my students. Honeybook is beginner-friendly yet powerful. Most photographers start with Honeybook and stick with it forever. It’s that good.
Web Design Software
Ok, so calling your website “software” is maybe stretching it, but it uses software. So I’m letting it count. Look, here’s the truth…you don’t need a website to get your first few paying clients. But if you’re serious about going from hobby photography to paying your bills with it – you need to invest in a website.
You can start with an inexpensive WordPress theme and DIY your way to having something up to showcase your portfolio and share your package information. Then, when you have a couple thousand dollars to invest in a professional website – I highly recommend you do it! Not to be biased, but having a professionally crafted website will only increase your inquiries. You can also start blogging, getting found on Google, and increasing your exposure to your ideal client.
Ready to Nurture: 15+ Clients
Now you’re really revving up! Once you book 15 or more clients, you probably have a lot more confidence and are ready to start turning your side hustle into a full-time career. Exciting! At this point, you need to invest your time in narrowing down your niche (testing out what types of photography you love most) and doing more marketing. This is the point where I recommend the only other must-have software for beginners – email marketing.
Email Marketing Software for Photographers
My favorite email marketing software is Flodesk. It’s the easiest-to-use tool on this list, aside from maybe Canva. Using Flodesk, you’ll be able to start collecting the email addresses of potential clients who aren’t ready to buy just yet. You can also keep past clients updated on you, your business, and your latest work.
Email marketing is great for new photographers because it allows you to nurture leads and stay in sight and in mind of past clients who may refer or re-book you. This is a game-changer because once you master email marketing, you can start selling out mini sessions, filling last-minute cancellations, and sharing free guides.
Photography doesn’t take a large investment
Despite how scary it may be to invest in your business, you don’t have to spend a lot in the beginning. Photography is one of the few careers that let you invest as you earn. Other than your initial camera investment (which does not have to be much – click here to see where to get bargains), you can get away with investing over time.
If you’re new to photography and want to keep learning, check out the blogs below. You’ll love them!