Great article for photographers on balancing the creative and business side. Agree that if the business side, and particularly marketing, is not your area of expertise then consider hiring a marketing expert. A short-term upfront investment will be helpful in the long run.
Originally posted on WPO - World Photography Organization
Make no mistake, this is one big jump and you will have to accept the fact that managing your new business venture will consume far more time than you ever imagined. That will be time that you won’t be spending working on image production.
While you continue to shoot and develop your skills, you should also be learning the rules that apply to not only the photography industry, but also general business practices. If you don’t learn those rules, and play by them, the day will come that the referee calls. In Canada, that referee will most likely be an auditor with Canada Revenue Agency – also less than affectionately known as the tax man, or worse.
In your research you most likely learned two important things: 1. The opportunity of earning a sufficient income by contributing to a micro-stock agency are quite limited, and 2. There is a horrendous over supply of stock images available to the potential buyer. Well, here is a reality check: the affects of point number two will continue to exist once you hang your shingle. How you decide to carve your niche to combat the over-supply issue is something you will have to discover on your own.
Be wary of every friend in the world who offers free advice, and live by the credo that you generally get what you pay for. Should those friends be so convinced that your new venture is the recipe to success, ask them if they would like to financially invest in your business. You will soon discover how convinced those friends are, and how much you should invest in their free advice.
Topics you will have to consider is insurance: you will require errors & omissions, liability, equipment and building insurance for your business. If you are planning on managing your business from a home office, speak to your current insurance broker and learn if your existing coverage will accommodate a home based business? Does your existing home policy cover all peril on your equipment now that you will be identified as a professional photographer – usually identified as one that earns an income from their pictures. And the questions continue; make a list and speak with your broker for expert advice.
Many of the other questions regarding legal representation, accountants, and other professional designations can be further explored in the earlier posts Calculation Cost and Going into Business. However, what those discussions don’t raise are two critical components of establishing a stock photography portal. Some might argue it is not necessary, and I would be of a contrary mind, but you will have to consider Information Technology and Marketing expertise in your operation. You can be sitting on the best collection of niche images in the world, but if you can’t, or don’t know how to get them to market, all your other efforts will be for naught.
Most photographers are just that – photographers; we make pictures. What do we know about SEO, how do we maximize key wording to have a positive influence on web based searches. Do you understand the demographic that is using each mobile device, and how they are using those devices. Should you base your business and image catalog on a home based server –and if so, do you have the bandwidth capacity? Or, should you explore the value in cloud or subscription services? Unless you already thoroughly understand the IT world, my suggestion would be contract independent expertise to assist you in this capacity.
The same can be said of marketing. Unless you can manoeuvre your way around social media with effective confidence, you may also want to seriously consider contracting a new media marketing manager. The bottom line is that if potential clients can’t see you material, they will most certainly never license your work which ultimately results in revenue.
You will want to spend a lot of time finding the right people to support your business. As any successful business manager knows: You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with.
Now get to work.
By: Dale Wilson