Congratulations on taking the leap to start your photography business in 2023! After loving it so long, you deserve to make a living doing what lights you up.
Now that you’ve decided to pursue photography, it’s time to get serious about finding clients and building your business foundations. You don’t need an MBA to be successful but I have found 7 essential tools every successful photographer has in common.
A Powerful CRM
As a new photographer, a CRM is going to be your best friend. CRMs, or Client Relationship Management software, help you run your entire photography business. You’ll use it for everything from booking sessions on your calendar to sending your contracts to getting paid.
I always recommend Honeybook CRM to photographers. It’s easy to use, affordable, and powerful! The best part is that it will allow you to automate a lot of your client communication, which will free you up to do more of what you love.
Email marketing is usually one of those tools that photographers either love or hate. I think that’s because other marketing methods, like social media, allow us to attract clients with our photos, rather than our writing skills. But after years of helping photographers build their businesses, I’m going to let you in on a secret.
Email marketing is essential to growing your photography business!
Cultivating a single list of all your past clients and people who love your work but haven’t booked yet is powerful. I’ve known photographers who have booked out their seasons and mini sessions simply because they sent A SINGLE EMAIL to their list.
If you could have that power, wouldn’t you want it? I would!
Yes, it means you have to put in the effort to funnel people onto your list, especially when you’re brand new to the business, and nurture them with regular touchpoints. But the power of a strong email list far outweighs the inconvenience of writing 2-4 emails a month. So, start your email list from day one!
The Perfect Session Guide
Clients have a lot of questions. It’s completely natural because many clients have not stepped foot in front of the camera since their high school yearbook photos! This is where you can shine and curate a white-glove client experience.
A session guide, or style guide, is something you give to a client to prepare them for their photo shoot. In it, you can package up all the details they’ll want to know about your session, so you’re not answering the same questions again and again.
The perfect session guide coaches clients on detail like:
- What to wear
- How to choose their best colors
- Where to shop for outfits
- Hair and makeup tips
- What to bring with them to the session
- What the session day will look like
Providing a detailed session guide boosts your client’s confidence and gets them excited for their time with you. If you’re not sure what to write in your session guide, grab one of our Photography Session Guides in the shop!
A Professional Photography Contract
I wish we could get away with not needing contracts, but the truth is once you’re using photography to pay the bills you need to protect your source of income. That means having a professional photography contract drafted by an attorney.
There are several free online templates floating around, but most aren’t drafted by real attorneys and don’t speak to all the nuances associated with photography businesses. They often miss critical elements like gallery use, photo manipulation and editing rights, or model releases.
We offer attorney-drafted photography contracts in the shop that are niche-specific. Meaning, if you’re a newborn photographer, your contract will include a minor model release. If you’re using one of our associate photographer contracts, you will have clear terms and compensation provisions. Each one was drafted with your business in mind.
Client Experience Email Templates
Your client experience is what people remember the most about you. Client experience includes every touchpoint you have with someone from the moment they inquire to the thank you card you send in the mail after a session. When your client feels prepared, supported, and excited about their time with you, they’re most likely to recommend you. And trust me, you want people to recommend you! (Free marketing, anyone?!)
Often, new photographers struggle with nailing their client experience because they don’t know what to say between booking and session day. Emails get sent on-the-fly and things like session reminders or payment installment reminders get forgotten.
That’s why I always recommend new photographers purchase pre-written email templates made for photographers. You’ll get every touchpoint you need, from start to finish. All you have to do is add your branding, session guides, and copy/paste them into your CRM.
Remember when I said clients have a lot of questions? Well, so will you! Even before you start working with someone you’ll need to start collecting personal details about them. What’s your name? What’s your ideal session date? What kind of treats does your dog like? The list goes on…
Asking the right questions during pre-booking can help potential clients feel more connected to you and boost your bookings. Post-booking questions will be essential to delivering on the vision your client has for their photos.
I recommend adding questionnaires to your contact form, to your initial auto-response to inquiries, and to your welcome emails.
Business insurance goes hand-in-hand with contracts. It’s necessary to protect yourself legally and financially, but it’s not that exciting. Most creative businesses skim past getting insurance and then regret it later. As a photographer, you cannot risk not having insurance.
Photography can be very challenging because you’re dealing with people’s safety, possessions, and even their children. I recommend getting your insurance as soon as you get your first payment. If you have the funds to get it even sooner, do it! Get the protection you need as soon as possible!
Starting Your Photography Business is So Exciting!
There has to be some irony in ending a post on such an exciting topic – starting your business – on the most boring tip ever – get insurance. It is not lost on me! Regardless, making the decision to start your business is a huge step.
Implementing these 7 essentials ASAP will help you lay a solid foundation to succeed. I wish you the best of luck and would love to help support you with tips along the way. Make sure you join my email list where I give weekly micro-lessons on everything you need to know to run a wildly successful photography business.
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