You are a good photographer and want to earn money with it? Then you need a photography business. But, what kind of business? How do you know which direction to choose?
Since I have been in the same situation years ago, I would like to share with you the best advice I received, and the skills you will need to start a photography business with no experience.
Build your audience first
Even if you are not sure what direction you are going in yet or who your customers will be, you need to start building your audience right away.
This was the best piece of advice I received when I was thinking of how to start a photography business with no experience.
The thing is that once you have some pictures or other things to sell, you will need people to tell about it. So you need to start building your audience now.
Whether your customer is a stranger on the internet or someone you will meet in person in your town, they will do their research by looking you up on the internet and checking out your social profiles. And you do not want them to be empty!
I suggest you sign up with Pinterest first. Start sharing your work there. You will need to spend a bit of time interacting and engaging with people to get them to notice you. Follow other people, perhaps some photographers you admire, like and comment on their work, and they will likely reciprocate.
Pinterest has the advantage that your contributions remain permanently visible. The service does not artificially limit your reach, as is the case with Facebook and Instagram. That is why building Followers on Pinterest is much faster.
Apart from that, Pinterest is an excellent traffic source from which you can direct users to your blog or sales page. For comparison, on Instagram you can only place one link in your bio. On Pinterest every single post can contain a link.
Building your fans and potential customers takes time at first. This is why you need to start now, but having that audience will be critical to your future success.
Create your unique place in the market
I am going to be honest with you, it is not easy making a living in travel photography these days. If you think you are going to do it selling prints or stock photography, you might need to think again.
The market has changed a lot since microstock agencies like iStock and Shutterstock started their business. Many famous photographers who made their living selling their photos for decades no longer can. Most of them sell workshops now to make a living.
Magazines and newspapers either buy their pictures at ridiculously low prices from the microstock services or organize photo competitions where the entrants give away their rights to the photo in order to enter. This way the magazine gets to use all the photos for free. If they do – contrary to any expectations – decide to purchase, they will only go with big name photographers who have a good reputation in the industry.
That is definitely not a market for beginners. I am not saying it is impossible. I have sold pictures to smaller and bigger magazines as well. And I still do know a few people who make a living that way, but it is a very tough way to go.
On the other hand, there are lots of successful travel photographers out there, and there is no reason you cannot be one of them.
The trick is to find your own path. Try to create something unique in the market by combining travel photography with something else that you have a specialized knowledge of or interest in.
Make a list of all the things that you have a good deal of knowledge about, and then brainstorm how you might combine photography with each of those things.
For example, when I was planning my business, I wrote down my other areas of expertise including: teaching, writing, big cats, environment protection, traveling, luxury and more.
One of my ideas was to combine photography with my love of big cats. How? I could organize safaris for photographers! Or teach in a Wildlife Photography School. That is exactly what I did.
Another example: Maybe you like sailing. How about marine based photography tours on a sailing ship? Or you could photograph sailing-boats for sale like a real estate photographer.
Of course, I ended up going down a different path, but this is just an example of how you can brainstorm ideas to find your own unique place in the market.
Once you have chosen your idea, do some research, define exactly what your product or service is, and who your customers will be.
Learn to sell your stuff
This one may be the most important tip of all. I know a lot of exceptionally talented photographers who cannot make a living because they do not have any business skills. Understanding how to market and sell your photos or services is essential to having a successful travel photography business.
The key is to know how to market your business.
If you are going to market your products online, there is a very specific group of skills that you will need to master including blogging, lead generation, email marketing, social media marketing and analyzing marketing campaigns. We teach you, for a small fee, all these things in our online course.
Investing some time into learning these skills will make a massive difference when it comes to being successful in an online business.
For travel photographers in particular, online business is almost the only option because it enables them to work anywhere.
I know, some of my tips might sound very general or obvious, but what works is going to be different for each person. I have a lot of experience in writing and teaching since I used to work as an editor for different magazines. That is why I make a living in the educational side of travel photography.