Q. “How do I know when I’m ready to start charging for my services?”
A. Aaaah yes the all time biggest question for up and coming photographers! I think that most JSO (just starting out) photographers spend way too long in the portfolio building stage of their business and it can be hard to get out of the rut of charging nothing for your sessions. So to answer your question simply: If people are asking you how much you charge or if you can take photos for them, you’re ready to charge. You may not be what you consider pro material (cuz we’re our own worst critics) but the general public obviously already thinks you’re good enough!
So now that you know you’re ready to charge, here are 8 things you need to have in place to start charging for your sessions.
- Portfolio :: You need to build yourself a portfolio of images to use in your marketing and online.
- Consistency :: You need to be able to consistently produce the same quality images session after session. Luck won’t cut it when you’re charging!
- Branding :: Brand brand BRAND! Build a visual brand for your business. And spend some money on it! Doesn’t have to be thousands. You can get ready-made logos for as little as $99 which you can build your brand around. Spending money on your visual brand tells your clients that you take yourself seriously and that you’re a real business.
- Legalities :: You need to get yourself registered as self employed and know what the tax man will require from you at the end of the year.
- Insurance :: Don’t take that camera out of the box until it’s insured! When I get a new piece of equipment, I don’t even open the box until I’ve added it to my policy. You will also need liability insurance to cover in the instance that you get sued if someone trips over your lighting cord or camera bag. And for events like weddings, you can purchase indemnity insurance to cover your back in the event that your memory card falls into a glass of champagne and you lose the entire wedding footage.
- Pricing :: Don’t know what to charge? Don’t worry. Neither did everyone else when they started! I was in the dark for the first couple years. Check out the whole pricing category here.
- Online presence :: Your presence online is very important to your business. Back in the days of web masters and paid-for website building, this was a super costly venture. These days, you only need to be mildly tech savvy to set up a blogsite or even a flash site. Also, social networking can be your greatest ally if you use it correctly! Set up a Twitter and Facebook fanpage and keep them updated. Post links to your newest sessions, post your session previews and interact with your clients.
- Forms :: You need to set up your invoices, contracts, releases, info packs, etc. You can do these as you go – make them as you need them and then they’re there for the next time. Forms can be downloaded as packs from photographers who sell them or if you’re a member of a photography forum, lots of those lovely ladies & gentlemen are willing to share!
I know that the things I’ve just mentioned seem daunting and you don’t know where to begin. Just take one thing per week and in only two months, you could be all ready to rawk-n-roll!
further reading //Pin It