This month is the anniversary of Nikki Vaive Photography. This October is the 8th year of business that sprung out of an unexpected door of opportunity. There are many wonderful things that have occurred during these eight years since first picking up my camera to capture someone aside from a family member. I have learned a lot during this time & today I would like to share a few things that I wish I knew before I started my own photography business.
Having a photography business is so much more than just taking pictures
If operating a photography business was just about capturing imagery that would be so easy! There is a lot to learn & know about operating a business that is necessary to be successful from the legalities of being licensed within your state with necessary operating registrations, paying taxes & accounting, general business things needed to conduct your business including business email, a website, figuring out social media, marketing & knowing your cost of doing business so that your business can be sustainable. And of course, being knowledgeable about how to operate your camera in manual, how to pose, light & perform client sessions successfully.
I didn't need to initially invest so much into unneeded things
When I first stated out I thought I needed more things than I actually did. For example, buying every prop or cool item that I saw that I thought I could use in a session without first figuring those things into my operational budget & pricing appropriately for those things in my price to cover those costs. I didn't need to buy as much as I had in the beginning. I should have gradually incorporated items & equipment as my business grew.
I shouldn't have focused my time on my competition & focused more on myself
When you are starting out it's probably human nature to tend to focus on what your competition is doing but I wish I would have spent that energy on what I was supposed to be doing or marketing my business instead of worrying about what my competition was posting or doing & comparing them to myself. I needed to focus on myself & making my business the best!
I wouldn't have based my pricing on what my competition was charging
I am so guilty of this in the beginning of my business! Instead of figuring out what I was offering & what it was costing me to produce that for my clients I would compare pricing with my competition as a basis for my pricing & it was so wrong! What my competition is charging isn't the way to base prices. Pricing has to be based by figuring out the time & expenses required to produce a service. My competition might be charging a certain rate & that might or might not be sustainable to their business but that doesn't mean what they charge will cover my own expenses. Given that there is an industry standard & acceptable rate for all industries to operate, you certainly need to consider this when basing your pricing. Just because a competitor is charging a certain rate whether that is more inexpensive or more expensive than your pricing ultimately it is your cost of doing business, your own skill & abilities & years in business that all play into what you should or can be charging. Pricing is & never should be a one size fits all approach & basing pricing on your competition is a huge no-no.
My friends might not be as supportive of my business as I thought they would be
Let me explain this one. When you are in business for yourself it can be so hard to divide the line between friendship & business owner. As a business owner, you have to look out for your business first. With friendships, this can be where things get a bit rocky. Most friends come to expect a deal from you & they are looking at this from a friendship point of view & saving a few bucks & not seeing your business as the way that you provide for your family. This can put you in difficult situation as you operate your business because you may or may not feel that you are able to discount your services. This can harbor friendships & can put you in a hard situation of wanting to work with friends but becoming reluctant because of expectations of a deal.
It would hurt your feelings when friends booked with someone else
This ties into what I was just saying about friendships. Working with friends can be a successful endeavor & not every friend will expect a deal & then some friends will book with one of your competitors & it can sting! With social media, it's easy to discover if a friend or even acquaintance happens to book with another photographer & I'm not gonna lie it can crush you. It doesn't bother me as much as it did when I first started my business but when I come across someone I know & they have booked with someone else it always takes me by surprise & it can make you question why they didn't book with you? Why wouldn't they want to support your small business?
It takes a while for your business to grow
I think it's easy to believe that a business will grow like an overnight one hit wonder! Growing a successful business doesn't happen immediately. It takes time for a business to build a reputation, to gain & grow clientele, to receive referrals and to overall evolve. Having a business has many growing pains just as if you are raising a child. You will make many, many mistakes along the way but you will learn from those mistakes & those mistakes will make you that much better in the future. Having your own business and seeing that business thrive is more like a marathon not a sprint to the finish line. A business continually is growing & evolving with the market, with skill, with changes to improve the services & products that are being offered. Don't rush & be adaptable to whatever might come your way. Have patience because patience is really necessary to have successful business.
As I enter my eighth year of business I am thankful. I am thankful for the clients that have trusted me with their most important moments, for the growth of my skill and abilities, for evolution of the brand of my business that translates quality & exceptionalism & for the ability to be a part of so many lives of others with providing services to my clients. I am so grateful & am anxious & excited for the coming year of business! I would love the opportunity to work with you!