Chuntering on about the nitty-gritty business side of this photography caper isn’t something I normally do on this blog. Though there have been the odd one or two exceptions in the past. But that’s not its purpose, and it’s certainly not the intention with which I started it.
If I were going to do that to any great extent I’d have to change its whole nature and tone for by no stretch of the imagination can it be said to have much to engage the interest of the commercial or established “art” photographer in its present form.
Although I guess it doesn’t do any harm to occasionally nod my head in that direction, especially given that photography is part of my own package of “keeping the wolf from the door” activities… so its kind of relevant. And assuming that folk wot visit here are at least vaguely interested in pics and stuff, maybe there’s a vague interest in the business side of it too. Or maybe not. Oh well.
However, the thing that’s prompted this present “nod of the head” is the appearance of two little items that have plonked simultaneously into my Inbox… two items dealing with different though not entirely unrelated aspects of the business side of it all. And I do so like to share!
I guess that if you’re thinking of earning money at this lark (either full- or part-time) then you need to be a reasonably competent photographer. And have some reasonably competent gear to match. Although, contrary to what your instincts may tell you, it seems that neither have to necessarily be top-notch. Though I’d suggest that any shortfall in either (your competence or your kit) needs to be balanced by an accurate self-assessment of your limitations.
Do what you know you (or your kit) can… and don’t be tempted to over-reach yourself. It’ll only backfire on you.
That’s purely from the commercial standpoint where results need to be predictable, consistent, reliable, and timely. When it comes to the more creative, “self-expressive” stuff, then by all means work outside of the comfort zone, try reaching for the stars or whatever. In fact, I’d actively encourage it. And who knows, you could find yourself onto a money-spinner after all!
Of course, as your skill (or kit) improves then this can be reflected accordingly in your self-assessment. But it seems to me, over and above all that nonsense, that to be successful in earning a bit of dosh at this caper (or with anything else for that matter) the really important thing is to be a good businessman (or woman)!
I’d even go so far as to say that if you’re a good business… er… person but an average photographer with mid-level gear you’ll likely be much more successful than a whizz snapper with top-notch kit but no business sense. And I suspect this is far more applicable nowadays (with the proliferation of digital cameras capable of producing acceptable results) than it ever was in the days of film.
What do I mean by having a good business sense? Well, for starters, having a sound understanding of how businesses actually work (its surprising how many people don’t!). And what to do to help make them work. And, of course, the actual ability and motivation to put all that understanding into practise.
Now its aspects of this matter of business sense that these two little items dropping into my Inbox address.
The first is an article in The Guardian… the rather sorry tale of a wedding photographer who’s finding that times are hard, and he’s having to make some equally hard decisions. Decide for yourself whether or not he’s a good businessman. (And be sure to read the comments to the original article!)
And the second is something relating to that thorny old topic for photographers (or any other business person for that matter) who maintain an active Web presence and use the Web to promote their business (which, although maybe hard to believe, not everyone does)… Search Engine Optimisation!
It’s the “2010 SEO Cookbook for Photographers”… a freebie handbook from the folk at Photoshelter.
It just so happens that I’m not a total ignoramus when it comes to stuff like SEO. Though I have to rather shamefacedly confess that I don’t do anywhere near as much in that direction as I could, or should. The totally naff titles of the posts on this blog are just one classic example of my blatant disregard for SEO! Anyway, given that this ’ere Cookbook thingie is a freebie, I wasn’t expecting too much of it.
But I’ve just this moment finished reading it and have to say that its well worth grabbing a copy. Sure, it’s trying to promote Photoshelter (nowt wrong with that as they’re being kind enough to hand it out free, and it is done very tastefully) but that aside it contains some interesting info and some useful little tips.
It’s a 46-page PDF and… did I already say?… its free. So go grab yourself a copy.
If that happens to be where you’re at! But even if you’re not into the commercial side yet still want to increase the exposure of your pics [pun alert!] then it makes a good and useful read.
P.S. I gave up trying to be a good businessman yonks ago cos I became far too busy and decided it didn’t suit my desired lifestyle, mindset… or slobbish nature! Hence my current poverty-stricken (though relatively carefree… apart from when the bills come in) status. Heh heh