They are done by a team of people."
While photograph by itself is an individual contribution left to the vision of the artist, building a business around imaging is a team sport. You simply can't do it alone. For many of you who are solo artists, that might seem like an insurmountable challenge, but it just takes a little focus.
You might be a one person operation, but you do have a team you need to focus on to get the job done.
- Your Family and Friends: It might seem incredibly simplistic, even stupid to suggest, but so many of you leave your family and friends in the dark about what you're trying to accomplish with building a business. Often there are some good reasons, especially with close family members who just don't get it. They don't understand your passion and quest to be an artist. You don't need negative people on your team, but don't just exclude everybody. Look for that one close friend or family member who seems to understand and keep them in the loop.
- Manufacturer/Vendor Support: Here's where your network comes in. You should know one person at every manufacturer or vendor whose products/services you use. This is why it's so important to attend every trade show you can work into your schedule.
- Retail Support: Yesterday I ran a post with a slide show of images from Tamron USA's most recent photo contest. They recognized the sales associates at their retailers. The crew behind the counter at your local retailer will often be the unsung hero helping you through so many business and technique challenges. Why? Because they know everybody in the industry. They have access to all the reps at the various manufacturers of the products they sell. Many of them are also talented artists in their own right.
- Staff: At some point, your business is going to grow enough to hire some help, whether part-time or full-time. Keep them plugged into your plans. If they're in the dark, they can't be there for you when you need it most. Do a weekly meeting every Monday or Tuesday morning and talk about the week ahead. It's not easy to do, and you'll miss a week here and there as life gets in the way, but it's so essential to building a strong team.
- Other Photographers: Yes, I'm talking about your competitors. Work to build relationships. Be active in the local affiliate, camera club, and photography guild. Build your network with artists who compliment those skills you might still be working on. Remember, there are only so many days you can work and sooner or later a client is going to want to hire you when you're already booked. Work to build a network of artists you can refer business to and then make it reciprocal.
Here's the bottom line - sure you can run a business and be a solo act, but your creativity is going to be stifled by the operational workload. Your time is going to be absorbed by tasks you could delegate. Before you know it, your dreams are going to, one by one, move to the back burner because of the pressure of being alone.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Even if you're just starting out, there are potential team members out there if you just take the time to think about your goals and the people in your network. And yes, I'm one of them - if I can help you know where to find me!