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The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

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Thursday
Jun232011

Twelve Steps to a Photography Business

So you've finally made the psychological plunge! You are going to start a photography business! Or at least you'd like to start thinking about it seriously before anyone can talk you out of it ;) There are a few basic things you need to know before you take the leap.
1. Name It
Don't just name your business, put some thought into it or at least make it personal. I came up with the absolutely wild and brazen concept of "Bensko Photography". I know, don't fall out of your chairs. It's pretty brave. Go to www.logomaker.com and create your own logo!
2. DBA It
A DBA is 'Doing Business As'. It essentially tells the world you live in to watch out, you are no longer Joe Schmo, you are now officially the person in town with an alias who's going to be shooting people.
Visit the Dept. of Registrar-Recorder Country Clerk’s Office to register your fictitious business name.
3. Print It
Within 30 days, you MUST publish a statement in the local newspaper announcing your DBA that will run for 4 weeks! This is essential!
4. Bank On It
Select your bank wisely. Watch for fees, and if they are "business friendly"! You may have a few questions as you are just starting out, so make sure you can connect with someone there personally who you can approach for advice along the way.
5. Build It
Your website is probably the most IMPORTANT step you will ever take in this journey as a photographer. DO NOT RUSH IT! Make sure the site is where you want it to be, that you only post the best images you have taken. If you are not sure about an image, if people haven't genuinely reacted in awe, do not post it!!! Your website is the one chance people have to make a three second decision as to whether or not they are going to call you to even see if they want to hire you. Your site is the key to the door of possibilities. Websites can be pricey, ask around if anyone knows a graphics guru who would like to trade services! Have a vision of what you would like, but allow your guru to do their magic as well. Just as you are an artist, they are as well and it's important to remember that creative minds may not always think alike at first. Try to have a clear a vision as possible, sit together and look at sites that you like. However, make sure your site does not look like other photographers' sites! The key is to be unique.
6. Flash It
Flash is FUN! BUT, don't just ask for a Flash site because of the fancy slideshow options. Although technology is quickly advancing, nowadays most everyone accesses sites on the run! Your site MUST be accessible via smart phones and smart tablets! Even if you are dead set on having a Flash site, then have an HTML option on it or you could be out a lot of business.
A great solution is one of the hottest items out there today, and one of the most commonly asked for in the business world: The Electronic Press Kit! It's extremely reasonable, and a great option! You can view mine here.
7. Shout It
Get the word out that you are building the imagery for your site. Shoot your friends and neighbors for free and put your whole heart into it. You are giving them a gift, and they are giving you a gift in return as well. Treat these sessions as though they are paying you in gold, because they are!
8. Appreciate It
Referral incentives work! It's a wonderful thing when someone refers a client to you, don't be afraid to offer them a print discount or a percentage of sales from their referrals. It's a tough world out there and appreciation goes a long way.
9. Donate It
Ok, you can stop giving every once in a while, but rarely pass on donating to silent auctions. It's great exposure, it helps a cause, broadens your market visibility and connects you with a new client base!
10. Network It
If you haven't started social networking, then get on the insane train NOW. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 pesos. This is a new era, new day and age. If you are on Facebook, create an album and title it "My Work". Upload only the best of the best of your work to date. Anytime you take a picture that touches you, upload it to that folder. Share images on Twitter, Tumblr, there are so many sites nowadays that touch so many lives. Friend or follow your clients, put your social networking address or follow icons on your site, your blog, your email signature. There is no such thing as over-exposure. If Lady Gaga can get away with fire shooting from her chest, I think a few uploads aren't going to bother anybody.
11. Blast It
Create a Constant Contact account. Send out a newsletter once a month on what you are up to, perhaps offering a discount, a special. Write about your favorite session that month and include some samples from the shoot. See if you have friends with small businesses that are just starting out or could use some exposure and offer to include their logo in your newsletter with a link to their site! Life is about connecting with friends, with clients, and the only way your business will be successful, is if your focus is consistent in regard to the quality of your relationships in life, and helping one another out.
This leads me to the most important aspect of creating your new venture.
12. Live It
Find a cause that genuinely touches you, that takes no effort to love and commit your heart to. Learn about the organization. Request usage of their logo and include them in your promotions. Donate 10% of proceeds of sales of prints to their organization, or have an annual shoot-out with funds going directly to that charity. This must be authentic. Sit and really think about what matters to you and research foundations online until you find one that "fits". See if their director or founder is accessible, email them and inform them of your support and your programs which will include their organization.
My organizations are military related: www.iraqstar.org and www.temperedsteelinc.org
Building a business is not easy, but it can be extremely fulfilling. It gives you an opportunity to connect with your community, to engage with your friends, and to someday look back on something you built with the village it takes to create something truly meaningful.

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Reader Comments (1)

So informative, such good advice, cleaver as always. I want to know how to save this info. so when I'm ready for my business, I can read through this again. Thanks Mic!

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJan Ping

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