Intro by Skip Cohen
My good buddy Scott Bourne first shared this post on SCU ten years ago. While I've pulled it from the archives a couple of times over the years, it's too good not to share again. And if you're already a working pro, it's still a great read. You might be surprised how many points Scott made that so many of you have forgotten, especially #5!
by Scott Bourne
(While these mistakes also encompass other areas of the professional photography business, at their core, they are marketing mistakes. See if you are making any of these mistakes and what you can do to correct them.)
1. Don't think about selling your image to the masses. Think about selling to people who live in your own zip code. Trying to start out like you're Ansel Adams with big gallery sales all across the country isn't going to happen. Just own your own zip code and don't worry about your images going viral.
2. Don't spend money on a studio, lights, camera gear, backgrounds, etc. until you actually have a customer. You can rent all the stuff you need to do a shoot. In fact, the big shots mostly rent everything when they are shooting big jobs. Why should you aim to be any different?
3. Don't focus on launching until you can sell. Focus on sales. Spend your time selling. Learn everything you can about the sales process. Read every sales book you can get your hands on. Expect to spend way, way more time selling than shooting. If you're doing it the other way around you're going to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
4. Don't worry about a business plan if you don't have a superb portfolio. Develop a killer portfolio before you worry about building a business plan. Make sure you have honed your craft. Make sure you know what you are doing. Don't worry about the big plan. Worry about being a great photographer with a great portfolio where every single image rocks your world.
5. Don't think you can run a photo business just because you are a great photographer. You need to be good at all the things that go with running a business, or get help doing those things. You need to have good bookkeeping, inventory control, accounting, legal, marketing, branding and sales on board before you even think about entering photography as a business.
6. Don't run your business with a negative mind. Too many photographers spend their time and money trying to build a wall around their photo business. Don't write 100 page contracts. Don't treat your customers or prospects as if they are out to cheat you. Just have a good attitude and move ahead.
7. Don't fake it until you make it. If you can't carry your weight, you'll ruin your reputation. So if a client says "can you do aerial photography?" and you've never even been in an airplane, don't say yes. You may want to partner with someone who can do that, you may want to refer the prospect to someone else, but don't claim you can do it if you can't because you will suffer from a bad reputation with that prospect and all their friends for all time.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.