I’ve spent the week with thousands of photographers having really great discussions around where to start in photography and what it looks like to earn more money (while working less!), that I just had to share some of their questions (and my answers) with those of you who weren’t able to join.
So here were some of the most common questions that I hope will help you be more profitable in your business or give you the courage to take the leap!
The Top 5 Questions Photographers are Asking
I’m brand new, where do I start?
Q: “I’m new. Like no portfolio, no clients new. Just got a camera I don’t even know how to use yet. I don’t know what to do next or what the first step should be. There are so many resources out there, and it can be overwhelming to know where I should invest my time. Where do I start?”
A: Girl, I have been there. When I first started I was clueless. I shot in auto, I didn’t know how to use my camera or even what type of lens I had. But here’s the thing: the reason my business beat the odds is because I focused on the business side of things and worked hard on setting up systems that would be not only sustainable but profitable.
Our art as photographers is our passion and we can learn to be better artists. We will be highly motivated to improve our craft because it’s something we love. But the truth is, if you don’t know how to run a business, you’ll likely not be able to make a living at doing it. So in my opinion, learning the business side of things is the best investment you can make in terms of your time. You can (and will) learn the art. But learning the processes and strategies that keep you in business is a little more difficult and should be where you focus your energy.
What’s most important is that you commit to action and move forward instead of getting stuck paralyzed in information overload.
How can I build my confidence up?
Q: “How do I build my skills and portfolio so I can feel confident enough to pursue my dream of running a photography business with work to back it up? Do I really have what it takes?”
A: First, I want to address your limiting mindset here. It sounds to me like you are letting fear takeover instead of allowing yourself to pursue your passion and listen to that intuition that is telling you a photography business is a possibility for you.
Look, when I first started my business I had TWO weddings under my belt. I stretched that work and spread it out to showcase what I was capable of. I believe the experience you create and how you make people feel is just as important as the work. I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not the best photographer out there, but people seek me out because of the reputation I’ve built and the experience of working with the Jenna Kutcher brand.
Don’t feel like you need to have a ton of years of experience and a boat load of clients to give you permission to start your business. Just start. Build your portfolio with friends and family or offer to second shoot at weddings. Set up a styled shoot where you can build your portfolio with details and locations on your terms and take the time to create work you’re proud of.
Where should I invest?
Q: “I’m new to the industry and can see what is possible (thank you Jenna) but I am a FOR real newbie. I have not made a single penny yet. Getting into photography is expensive, where should I focus my resources when investing in my business?”
A: This is such an important question that I did an entire podcast episode on it and you can tune in here. Because we’re talking about investing in my course The Photo Lab this week, I want to talk about the importance of education for a minute. It’s so important for us as creatives and business owners to always be learning whether it’s reading business books, listening to podcasts, joining a group of like-minded business owners or taking a course.
As a creative, I believe that courses that teach true, pure business strategies can be one of the best investments of your dollars because you pay once but you have that information and content forever. For me, learning the art on my own helped me ensure I was in control of creating images that came from ME but learning the business stuff from other mentors was a solid investment for me. Look for mentors who are doing what you want to be doing (and doing it well). Look for someone you trust and can relate to who will help you cut your learning curve in half and save you time and money.
Here’s how it helps me to think it through biz investments: costing it out: How much is an unclear business strategy and plan costing you? What is your lack of web presence or equipment keeping you from earning? Like, what’s the dollar amount? It helps me making investment decisions to write that number down on paper. Then, how much MORE could you make every year with a streamlined system and process? With a new gear line up or portfolio? How many more clients could you book in a year, or how much could you increase your rates?
Now, write those numbers down. If those numbers outweigh the investment, then it’s clearly a sound business investment. Otherwise, it may not be the right time. However, if you could make more than the cost of the course by implementing the smarter business model the course teaches, then it’s a worthy investment!
How should I price myself?
Q: “If I raise my prices I’m worried people are just going to go to the photographer down the street who costs less. How do I make sure this doesn’t happen?”
A: First, let me ask you a question: Who do you want to reach? The person who values photography so deeply they are willing to pay for the best? Or the person looking for the best deal and looking for the cheapest available photographer? Focus on your people and let the rest go. You don’t need to work with everyone out there, just the right people who connect with you and value your work.
You have to make your personality more important than the prices you are charging. Focus your efforts on the experience you are offering. How are you showing your future clients the experience beyond the numbers and what your services will cost them? How are you standing out? Are you intimately connecting with these people with every blog post or Instagram caption?
Start from the first email you send by including what an experience in working with you might look like. What sets you apart from others? What will working with you look like? How can you connect with your ideal client so they know you understand and establish trust.
Tune in to the webinar to hear exactly how Jenna creates an experience with step by step tips on how to do the same for your business.
I’m afraid to put myself out there…
Q: “I am kind of afraid of putting myself out there, being rejected, and the fear of being so visible. I want to put myself out there in the right way to reach my ideal customer, and when I try to do it myself I just. feel. stuck.”
A: Ok, it’s time for a little pep talk. In order for people to truly understand, desire and love your work – they first have to fall in love with you. Your work is art, but if people don’t know who the artist is, the art loses it’s value. You cannot expect your clients to invite you into their moments and win their business without inviting them into YOUR life. Don’t believe the lie that you are not interesting. You have a story to tell and I believe the number one post that should show up in your social media feeds needs to be your personal story. I believe without showing up and sharing about yourself, you will lose that client checking you out and wanting to learn more about you.
So, are you showing up in your feed? Will I see your image, your voice, your story? The more people can connect with you, the more they will know, like and trust you. Next focus on serve, serve serve and provide content that your ideal client is struggling with, searching for and needing or simply add joy to their life. Before posting a photo, ask yourself these three questions:
Who is this post serving? Is it my ideal clients or my peers? Or is this post just boosting my ego?
How are you telling a story with the image and caption?
Does this sound like me? Does it help people connect to who I am?
Give people a reason to follow you even if they are not currently in need of your services so that when they are, you will be the one they call.
I hope that helps paint a picture on where to start in photography so you can start earning more (while working less!).