devil will do (cleverdevil) wrote in entrepreneurs,
devil will do
cleverdevil
entrepreneurs

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I'm in the early stages of planning to start a photography business. This is the research stage, where I gather word of mouth info.
My education involves a Writing and New Media Technologies diploma, where I first was introduced to the camera and photoshop. Since then, I've been creating all manner of art and I've excelled at my photoshopping skills enough that I think I might have a service to offer. This after looking around at a tremendous amount of crap that people actually pay for.
Until demand dictates that I limit my services, I thought about offering everything I can do, including:
Photo restoration
Family portraits
Personal portraits
Animal portraits.
Photoshop services that essentially equate to art, as I assume alot of people might want something different. This is, infact, where I thought I would drum up the most business.

I live around Edmonton Alberta, Canada, if that's of any consequence?

What I need are testimonials and advise from anyone that might have some. Is there anyone in the business that might shine a flashlight on this newcomers path?
How might I best advertise?
Should I stop dreaming until I get a business degree?
Should I limit my services?
Will I not be taken seriously without a diploma in photography on my wall?
What should I include in my portfolio?
Do you have advise on how I might individualize my business, or do you think trying to stand out is wrong?

ANY advise you have will be taken very seriously, provided it's intented that way.

Thanks in advance,
Jerry
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  • 3 comments
I live around Edmonton Alberta, Canada, if that's of any consequence?

- Not particularly, unless there is a lack of businesses surrounding the photography industry.

What I need are testimonials and advise from anyone that might have some. Is there anyone in the business that might shine a flashlight on this newcomers path?

- As with all business, know your market inside and out AND know your trade inside and out. Make as many contacts in the industry you're in and of course contacts in advertising etc. You will need to have a slick website which details exactly what your business is offering and show examples of your work. You will need to work for free I imagine to get these samples online.

How might I best advertise?

- Seems a bit obvious to be asking this, but local newspapers, social networking groups/clubs, photography/lifestyle magazines, online. You must have a bold business logo which is very professional. Remember you're selling images therefore your image (yourself and of your business) needs to be perfect.

Should I stop dreaming until I get a business degree?

- It might help but plenty of people in business barely have high school diplomas etc.

Should I limit my services?

- Only if other services you offer lack in ways that others don't. You want to concentrate on the areas you're strongest in.

Will I not be taken seriously without a diploma in photography on my wall?

- Do you expect people to be looking at your wall for a piece of paper? No, they'll be looking at your photographs...

What should I include in my portfolio?

- A collection of your finest work, demonstrating exactly what you do, and what you do best. Surely that question has an obvious answer?!?!

Do you have advise on how I might individualize my business, or do you think trying to stand out is wrong?

No, only you can answer how you want to make your business stand out. Standing out is pretty essential and you must have a unique selling point (USP) to make yourself known in what might be a fairly crowded marketplace.

Other advice -

It sounds like you're at a very early stage with this business. You need, from what I can gather, to give a lot more thought about it all. What makes your photoshopping skills any different to those of a 16 year old, who uses it daily? What would you offer photoshop wise that people can't basically do for themselves since most people with a digital camera have photoshop themselves?
Thank you for providing alot of seemingly obvious advise.
Very early stages, yes, which is why I'm flaunting a particulary nieve attitude. I want to think and re-think everything. Your advise has helped alot with that, thank you.
For starters -- seriously, don't spend your time fretting over having the right degree. What counts in starting a business (unlike in the job market, I guess) is not "who were you taught by and what were you taught" but much more "do you do a good job and do you have the common sense to manage it properly."

Your services definitely seem to center around a main theme of photography and photographic art, so I think offering them all as various facets of your business is a great idea. Some people feel like "one call does it all" type of marketing can be damaging -- the whole "jack of all trades, master of none" thing--but your work is definitely targeted and centers around photographic art. I say go for it. There's no need to limit yourself now -- possibly in the future you'll find that your clients end up wanting much more of one or two particular services and that will end up being the one you develop the most.

I started a small business with my boyfriend last summer. We are not exactly the same concept as your business is, but we are definitely in a similar field. We've jumped between various ideas and decided to define ourselves as an "image and identity" company -- it was the most legit-sounding phrase that allowed us to offer all of our services (graphic design, web design, writing, PR) under one roof without sounding like a bargain basement "get it all here!" type of place. If you're interested, check out our site at www.luckforlaura.com . And feel free to email me too (info@luckforlaura.com) --if you do start your business soon, I'd love to exchange advice and experiences on what works and what doesn't as we both go along.

Trying to stand out is never a bad idea from a marketing standpoint -- as long as you're not standing out by being ridiculous, for the sake of standing out. My recommendation is to spend some time researching by finding other businesses in the same field as yours -- visit their websites and portfolios, see what you like and what you don't. And ask yourself: what about you marks you as different than these businesses? They are your competition, but similar businesses can also learn from each other and help each other grow.

Advertising is a sticky thing for me right now personally -- I opted to start this as quickly as possible, which means I did not get any kind of a loan or have a buttload of savings at my disposal -- everything is out of my own pocket (and we're still getting off the ground with income. Building in clients every week though). I have used Craigslist to great advantage, as well as Myspace and word-of-mouth advertising. If you're in any sort of communities, definitely utilize them to help you get the word out. Also check out this excellent list of ways to grow your work opportunities : http://freelanceswitch.com/finding/101-ideas-to-get-more-freelance-work-and-generate-new-client-leads/

Lots of luck on your new venture.