How to Transition from Hobbyist to Professional Photographer
Are you a hobbyist who is truly passionate about photography? Making the leap from taking photos for fun to doing it for a living may seem very intimidating, but the reality is that there is always a demand for professional photographers. Additionally, this is a field where you can actually make a good living doing something that you love. In fact, the average annual income is $82,000, and photographers who specialize in weddings or portraits often make six figures. Here are a few straight-forward tips that can help make the transition from hobbyist to professional.
1. Establish a Personalized Web Address using a Domain Name
Having your own web address makes it easy to tell people where to find you online, and to view your work. Even if you’re not ready to design and host your own website yet, it is simple to connect your personalized domain name to your existing online photography portfolio with just a couple of clicks. The result of connecting your domain name to your online portfolio is an instant website with a memorable web address you can start marketing and sharing with prospective customers. And, when you’re ready to launch your own website, you already have a great web address that your customers know.
Remember to add your web address to all of your marketing materials, including business cards and brochures. This can help legitimize and build trust in the minds of consumers. Another nice perk is that your domain name can also be used as professional-looking, personalized email address.
A .com domain name can be less than $10 so it’s a great investment. Without a strong online presence, building and growing a successful photography business can be difficult. Carefully consider your business name and start your search for a personalized .com domain name today.
2. Follow Your Photography Passion
There are many niches to fill in the world of photography. A few examples include sports, photojournalism, weddings, portraits and even pet photos. Although diversifying can give you a larger list of potential clients, it is important to carefully consider what you actually enjoy doing. In other words, if working with people on their wedding day makes you want to pull your hair out, you shouldn’t choose this as part of your career path. On the other hand, if you feel passionate about capturing the big day for a wide variety of couples, wedding photography is a viable option.
Ultimately, the type of work you produce and the level of success you achieve will be directly tied into whether or not you enjoy what you’re doing.
3. Acquire the Right Equipment for Your Niche
Now that you have selected which niche to fill, you need to construct your equipment bag accordingly. Portrait photographers should focus on high quality, fast lenses that can be used close up and offer some zoom capabilities. A prime example is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. This gives you versatility by making it easy to pan out for group portraits or zoom in for tighter shots. As an added bonus, the slight facial compression that accompanies a zoom lens is more flattering for most people.
A portrait photographer will also need a light meter, remote flash trigger, tripod, softbox and a removable external flash. As you build your business, it will be wise to invest in a larger variety of this equipment. A professional quality camera body is also best, but you should be able to get by with a higher end hobbyist model until you’re able to upgrade.
4. Cultivate a Client Base
Your personalized email address and web address through your domain name can help potential clients find and communicate with you. You can also increase your online presence and give your website’s SEO a boost by blogging and setting up social media profiles for your photography business. Be sure to encourage existing clients to post reviews on social media sites and Google. Word of mouth can be vital, so always keep extra business cards with you and ask your clients for referrals.
Targeted advertisements are also a good idea. Google AdWords makes it easy to target people in a specific area who search for highly relevant keywords. Facebook Ads are another commonly used resource, and they let you choose your target audience based on their location, age, gender and interests. Keep in mind that if you are on a tight budget, Internet ads are more targeted and cost-effective than print advertising.
Of course, inbound marketing can be even cheaper. The concept behind inbound marketing is to provide consumers with something useful such as an informative blog post, video or white paper. When the consumer searches Google for information about a specific photography related topic or question, your blog post or video can help drive them to your website as opposed to you trying to reach out to them with an advertisement.
In the long run, your overall success as a photographer will come down to a few things: your talent, passion, people skills and whether or not potential clients can easily find you online. Good luck!
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