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5 Photography Biz Tips — by Blair Gable

Our friend, Ottawa photographer Blair Gable, is a member of the CanvasPop Pro Community and shares his insights and behind-the-scenes thoughts right here on our blog. 

The most obvious thing you should do if you want to run a successful photography business is to take amazing pictures — that’s a given. But I want to talk about 5 other things you need to nail in order to become a truly successful small business owner, entrepreneur and creative artist. Because if people can’t find you, don’t like you, won’t trust you, then you will fail.

I am not a marketing expert, business prodigy or expert on buying psychology but my business is successful and people ask me for advice often enough to warrant me hammering out a blog post for you. Good luck!

Branding
Having a strong, consistent and recognizable brand is a great place to start. Your graphic logo or nameplate should be interesting to look at without being distracting. It should be unique, speak to the clients you want to connect with and reflect the personality of your brand.

In the beginning you may opt to do your own graphic design work, but once you get some cash in hand, you should consider hiring a professional to clean things up for you. I went through an exhaustive search before trusting in Strong Vine Visual Communication to help create my new brand and websites. Once your logo treatments are perfect then you can start branding everything, but think twice (or maybe three times) before you brand your car and clothes.

Studio shoot with Micah, lead singer from the Fall of Knowledge in Ottawa

SEO
Along with your new branding you will need an effective website. Like your logo, this should attract your core client base and give them an idea of who you are and what you can do. But without great SEO (search engine optimization), no one may ever find you. Search engines no longer just crawl through the META data in your website’s coding for information, they crawl every inch of your website for relevant content and keywords.

Page titles, image titles, headers, link backs, etc. all work together to get you ranked. Having dynamic content on your website is also a great way to generate SEO rich content – a in-site blog is a great way to do this. Search engines love websites with changing content and blog posts can be littered with relevant keywords. If you don’t want to do the leg work, you can hire a company to do this (or train you).

Social Media
Being active across many social media platforms is one of the easiest ways to get your brand and your work in front of people’s eyeballs. The more avenues you open up for potential clients to find you the better. Everyone has their favorite ways of engaging with their community and you want to make sure that your work is accessible. Think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.

When I publish a new blog post I post it to my Facebook Page, share it, tweet it and add it to Google+. My twitter account is linked to my Facebook account so my Twitter content also becomes Facebook content. My LinkedIn account is linked to my blog so that my posts automatically populate that account as well. That is five (or more) points of contact for every blog post I publish. You will get the most traction if other people in your online community share your work as well.


Outsourcing
If you don’t like to do something, and can afford to, then you should outsource it. I don’t mean to India. I mean hire the experts. Graphic designers for your branding, an accountant for your taxes, a editing firm for your post production, etc. If you hate doing something then it will become a chore that you continue to push to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list. Focus on what you are passionate and excited about.

Office Efficiency
Creating an efficient workflow is an important and often neglected part of office life. This is everything from sorting your receipts, managing your archive, invoicing clients, following up on inquiries, and maintaining relationships with current clients.

Shooting pictures is only 10% of what I do, the rest of the time I am at my desk doing everything else. If I wasn’t efficient in the office and spent my “free” time just hanging out I would quickly find myself being audited, raged at by frustrated clients, and not getting paid. If this seems wholly unappealing to you then I suggest hiring an office assistant to do the work for you – just make sure you are shooting enough to offset those costs!

Some of my favourite resources:
Book Yourself Solid
The Ultimate Marketing Toolkit
SEO Ninja
Dirty Little Secrets About Buzz
Unmarketing
Purple Cow

Follow Blair on Twitter (@gablehead) and let him know what you’d like to see here next. Check out his previous posts