In many cases, photography is more than just a hobby—it’s also a serious and profitable business. To earn a living as a photographer, you have to be willing to do more than take pictures of birthday parties and sporting events.
The internet has revolutionized how people spend their time and money, which has greatly impacted businesses and hobbies.
A professional photography business requires creative and innovative thinking, the willingness to learn new skills, and a willingness to become involved in a variety of activities beyond photo editing.
You are making decent money but would like to make more. Now, what do you do? Finding the right solution to grow the business is challenging.
Learning how to scale a photography business is something many photographers struggle with.
Do You Have Enough Photographic Leads?
The key to scaling your photography business is analyzing leads. Your ability to grow depends on whether there’s a demand for your services.
It is not uncommon for lead generation efforts to start strong but then lose steam over time. The best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of those efforts is to diversify your lead sources so that if one source goes away, you can still support and grow your business.
Review our take on How to Get Your Photography Business Off the Ground? Which discusses the primary ways for photographers to maximize their income.
You’ll have to figure out the exact number of leads you need to generate to keep up with your team’s capacity and shooting rate. In the face of a dearth of leads, you should consider adopting lead generation strategies rather than scaling your business.
Have You Streamlined All of Your Photography Business Processes?
The key to scaling your business is outsourcing and delegating. With more efficient technology platforms being released each year, you can outsource many aspects of your business for fixed rates or do them quickly with the help of software.
Here are a few of the most important things to consider:
A good customer relationship management (CRM) tool is critical to the growth of a photography business. A good CRM automates certain processes, allows you to track leads and bookings easily, and helps assign team members to jobs.
By using good Lightroom presets or outsourcing your editing to a good post-production company, you can save yourself time, effort, and stress. By comparing the results of several companies and choosing the best one for the job, you will save not only time but also money.
3. Album Design
Using professional graphic design software like Adobe InDesign can help you get your album covers done quickly, and it is a relatively easy skill to master.
4. SEO Content Creation
AI tools like Jasper.ai can help you write well, even if you are not skilled.
5. Client Galleries and Print Sales
Online galleries for photographers are an important part of the photographer’s workflow. The best online galleries allow you to deliver photos to your clients and allow them to decide what they want to purchase.
6. Email Reply Manager
Use auto-reply tools to help you stay on top of your emails, ensuring you don’t overlook important messages.
Have You Documented All of Your Photographic Processes?
To scale your photography business, you must ensure that you have documented each photographic process with standard operating procedures.
These documents will help you to run your business more efficiently, ensuring that new employees are properly trained and that you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Are You Mentally Ready for Extra Stress?
When you are starting a photography business, you may find it hard to separate your personal and professional lives. As a creative person with both business goals and artistic passions, you may be even more consumed by the new venture, not to mention stressed out.
Photographers often experience burnout for reasons including physical stress from working too many hours, financial stress from struggling financially, or simply feeling uninspired.
To minimize the stress of scaling your photography business, consider taking these basic steps:
It is important to make time for everything that needs to be done in order to run a successful business. This includes making sure you have time for social media marketing, client communication, and so forth. It is also important to schedule time for yourself and your family. This will help keep you sane when things get stressful.
Know when to outsource tasks or hire staff members. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Hiring help will free up time and resources for more important things like growing your business.
It’s important to understand that it’s okay to scale back if the stress from scaling your business becomes unmanageable.
How Much Do You Want to Scale Your Photography Business?
It is important to keep in mind that the term “scaling” is subjective when it comes to scaling a photography business.
Some photographers see scaling as hiring more photographers to work under their brand, while others simply think of scaling as taking on more business.
There are several approaches to the business of photography, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. From a financial perspective, a solo photographer may earn more than a multi-shooter studio if its overhead costs are too high and its margins too slim.
So, go ahead and take things at your own pace and scale your business up or down as you see fit.
If you are a photographer looking to scale your business and increase sales, here are 5 solid tips on how to do that.
1. Offer Theme-based Packages
Being selective in your photography allows you to focus on what you do best rather than spreading yourself too thin. It allows you to offer your clients a more focused service package. If you offer specific package options, focus on a niche market.
If you’ve been successful with photo editing, stick with it. It’s important to be consistent about what you offer.
Limiting yourself to certain types of photography can increase the demand for your services by developing a reputation for specializing in certain areas. Everyone loves a bargain, and you can attract more clients when you offer theme-based packages or special discounts for celebrations and parties.
- It is important to build your business around the products and services that sell best. By developing multiple revenue channels, you can maximize your profits.
- Specializing in a specific area of photography will help you build up your authority and credibility as an expert photographer. If you are a talented photo editor, you can build authority around your business by focusing on that area.
- You can earn more by spending less time on projects that don’t generate much revenue. If you spend more time taking pictures at birthday parties, you’ll earn a higher hourly rate than if you spend your time editing other people’s photos.
- Clients know exactly what they want, which is why you should create packages designed to appeal to your target audience. Sports photographers, for example, can offer special packages for team photos or game footage.
2. Build Your Online Visibility
Building a strong presence online can help you gain name recognition in your industry and market your photography business better than ever before. Create an online portfolio by highlighting your best works. Clients will be able to see samples of your finest skills and expertise, increasing the chances that they will hire you for jobs.
Choose the best shots from a variety of niches, and then post them on your portfolio website. Post your finest work on job-finding sites like YellowPages, Yelp, Google My Business, Angie’s List, Upwork, and Thumbtack. Also, post your portfolio on your social media accounts.
When considering setting up a presence on social media, consider creating accounts on the best platforms available.
Be sure to use location tags, and don’t sound too salesy.
Be sure to include catchy hashtags and captions on your photos and posts to get your audience’s attention. Remember to post regularly so that people don’t forget about you.
3. Build Partnerships with Nearby Businesses and Influencers
So, how many clients do you see in the average week? And how much time do you dedicate to lead generation? Partnering with local businesses and influencers can help you gain access to a steady stream of referral business, increasing the number of weekly bookings you receive.
Best Businesses to Build Partnerships
When you are searching for a business or influencer to partner with, consider those that see hundreds of customers or audiences per week or need a go-to photographer on speed dial.
- Local Schools for sporting events, yearbook photos, fundraisers, etc.
- Event Venues
- Salons, Spas, and Boutiques
- Real Estate Agents
- Local Businesses like cafes and more.
When the nearby high school hosts a lacrosse game or the wedding boutique launches a new product, you will be one of the first to hear about it.
3 Easy Steps to Land These Partnerships
It’s clear that numerous photographers are available from coast to coast. Why should your partners choose you over your competitors?
Here are three steps that can help you secure these partnerships:
- Start snapping photos for free now and give yourself a chance to show others what you’re capable of.
- Reach out in-person and follow up via text, phone call, or email within a few weeks.
- Create a referral program by cross-posting on social media and adding them as a sponsor on your materials.
For your first partnership, you’ll have a lot to prove. Once you’ve partnered with the hottest wedding venue in town, other caterers will be eager to work with you based on reputation alone.
4. Start an Email List
Don’t you hate reaching out to dozens of possible clients to convince them to book sessions? No way.
Building an email list of past, current, and future clients can make your life easier by allowing you to contact them regularly with news about new products or services.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind about this vital aspect of marketing:
How to Collect Email Addresses?
When you meet somebody in person and ask them directly for their email address, it’s easy to gather client email addresses.
But you can also gather emails by using strategies like:
- By creating gated content like whitepapers or eBooks, you can encourage clients to submit their contact information. This will help you build a list of prospects for promotional emails.
- Give your website visitors a reason to give you their email addresses by offering them a discount or special offer.
- Collecting business cards at every event you attend can help you expand your network of potential clients.
However, don’t let this mindset make you lazy. Sending unsolicited emails is against the law and can jeopardize future email marketing efforts.
What You Need to Send in Your Marketing Emails?
You will likely get their attention when you send a daily marketing email to your audience. However, their attention may be in an “Again? I’m unsubscribing!” type of way.
Marketing emails aim to share valuable information with your customers regularly. In order to avoid sending emails that are unwanted and unappreciated, you should send an email only every 2-4 weeks and only if you have something worth sharing. Failing to do so will decrease the value of your email list by driving readers away and lowering conversions.
So, your email marketing should include subjects like:
- Book and get ____% off on your next session.
- Recommend a friend and get ____% off.
- I will be hosting ____ next week. Come visit for a free photo.
Measure your email marketing efforts to determine which strategies give your company the most bang for its buck.
5. Host Mini-Sessions
As a photographer, it’s important to understand that clients often hire professionals for large events such as weddings but then fail to realize that lesser-known photographers can still produce good work for less demanding sessions, which are often less expensive and easier to fit into busy schedules.
By offering a new mini-session option for clients who want to book fewer than the standard five or six hours, you will be able to maximize your client base and your profits.
Mini sessions are a fantastic way to attract new clients who will later book you for longer sessions and to shoot less popular holidays, smaller events, or fun themes.
To truly scale a photography business, you need to think big and take action. You should start doing something that could immediately benefit your business or cause it to grow. Consider your goals, and then think about how you can achieve them in the long run.
Now that you have 5 solid tips for moving forward, use this guide to learn more about scaling a photography business.