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9 min read

We all have cameras on our phones, but can anyone start a photography business?

Well, yes and no. Between busy schedules and feeling insecure about all the great photos you see online, many people opt out of learning how to start a photography business.

You may not know how to get started or how to stay motivated. Starting a new business is hard, which is where we come in. If you love photography and want to make money selling your photographs, here is some good news.

The internet has made it easier than ever to sell photographs online and get the word out about your photos.

Learning how to start a photography business? You’ve come to the right place. Read on for four steps to get you selling today.

How to Start a Photography Business in 4 Simple Steps

1. Build a Following
2. Starting a Photography Business
3. Market Yourself
4. Keep Growing Your Business

This article will help with starting a photography business. If you already sell photographs online, it will show you how to increase your sales and grow your photo business.

A female photographer with a camera starts work on how to start a photography business in this article from Selz ecommerce for growing businesses

1. Build a Following

Most photographers can’t just appear on the photo scene and expect customers to start buying.

They don’t know you, especially if you are competing with celebrities or well-known photographers, so spend time building up a persona and audience through social media and blogging.

Show the details of how you take pictures each day. Show what your motivations are, and show how your photographs can inspire and add to a community.

Start with social media: use Instagram and other picture-dominated social media platforms like Pinterest to promote your work. Create a daily post or multiple posts per day on each of these platforms.

Social media strategy for photographers

A great idea to get content out there each day is to have a theme for the day and an image to go with it. The hashtag #photography has over 500 million posts. Your image will disappear in seconds, so think about your niche with each photo. Small, targeted hashtags work best.

For example, post “Wedding Wednesday” and showcase photos from weddings you’ve shot in the past. Talk about the story of that wedding, or share an interesting moment. Think about what will connect with potential customers.

Another good theme for the day is “Travel Day” because everyone loves gorgeous travel photos! Show how you experience a new city through the lens of your camera and why your perspective is special.

Being a professional photographer is challenging and many people take the work that goes into it for granted. Your photos should show the reality of professional photography.

A family poses as the child takes a picture, you never know what will happen when you're starting a photography business.

It’s all about image

You also want to make it fun! Photographs can make any experience look glamorous and exciting. Photos are part of the it-factor that makes us love a band, celebrity, or brand. 

Your photos should make your customers want the life they see in your feed.

When your followers share their own stories in the comments, let them know you’re available to take photos of them too. This is a great way to send targeted traffic to your photography business website.

2. Starting a Photography Business

Now it’s time to build your website to sell your photographs online. You will need your own website to showcase and sell your photographs and videos and to share your fascinating lifestyle!

Use an ecommerce platform to showcase your photographer lifestyle and start your photography business at the same time. Don’t forget to add a blog to your online store. This will help you build your credibility and authority with potential customers.

Here are some other things to add to your site:

Photographs

First things first- show examples of your photography that customers can purchase. If you shoot unique events like weddings or birthdays, include past photoshoots on your website to entice people to schedule time with you.

Photo packages and services

Make sure your site has a simple buying process for your customers. 

If you’re selling physical prints of your photographs, make sure that shipping is inexpensive and easy to understand

If you’re wondering what format to sell videos online, creating digital downloads is a great way to immediately deliver your videos.

Before and after pictures

Photo services including personalized photo sessions, retouching, reprints and framing are great additions to any photography business. Show customers photographs before and after you’ve done some retouching. If you’re starting a photography business, you want to show potential buyers how you make photographs better!

Make sure your store has product descriptions that entice people to buy. You’ll also want to test your checkout process so that you know when someone makes a purchase there are no hiccups.

What your photography services include

Show potential buyers what your photo services will look like for them, without giving away any secrets. New customers will feel more comfortable knowing exactly what they are purchasing.

If you keep early customers happy, your feedback will be positive and enthusiastic. This will build your credibility and grow your customer base.

How to start a photography business with minimal equipment

You don’t need a ton of equipment or a fancy business plan to start a great photography business! It’s how you work with the equipment you have and how you communicate your unique vision.

Here’s a great example of a photography site from Runben Guo:

photography website example

Reviews from happy customers

Show evidence of your sales and services translating into their personal stories. How do your photographs make your customers’ lives better?

Testimonials help to show how your photographs are special. They’re a great way to turn someone who’s just interested into a paying customer.

Your personality matters

Starting a photography business is about the final product, but you also want to show the journey they will take with you.

For one thing, they will want to know how you work with customers. How flexible can you be? How open are you to their photo ideas?

Potential customers will want to see how other people who already invested in you feel about the work you’ve made.

Videos

Videos are also important when you’re starting a photography business. Video is the most popular medium online, with millions of views every day. Your videos can be one of the products you sell or a way to highlight your process and personality.

Use YouTube as a sales channel. Show a behind-the-scenes look at one of your photo shoots, or a location scouting trip.

The more your customer desires the world you share in your marketing, the more they will want your photographs.

A man retouches photographs in this article about how to start a photography business from Selz ecommerce for growing businesses

Blog

I mentioned this before, but adding a blog to your online store is a great way to draw new customers. It can also help you build a stronger connection with your current followers.

Add information about new equipment or photo techniques on your blog. A photoblog also a great place to share what inspires you as a photographer. If you are learning how to start a photography business, it’s great to include snippets of photographers and other influencers you follow.

Again, connecting to a niche community will really help when you’re starting a photography business. Continue to increase the number of photographs and services you offer to keep your current customers growing with you!

3. Market Yourself

Social media is a great way to connect with people when you’re starting a photography business.

If you want to start with social media, these resources can help:

Social Media
Pinterest
Instagram

Great travel photographs show not only the location but how you experience what is unique about that location

That said, to grow you need more customers, so a marketing strategy is important!

Most people looking for a photography business online are looking for professional help. It can be tough to sort through local options, and many people are looking for something personalized.

These people want something specific that fits with the way they see the world. Finding a niche for your photography business is key to getting finding more customers.

Here are some helpful resources to build your marketing plan (click on each to read more):

SEO
Blogging
Newsletters
Abandoned cart emails
Paid ads

 As you build an audience for your photography business you may want to sell in multiple places. For example, stock photography is something many photographers try. If you want to sell from art galleries, this article can help you get started.

‘Tis the season

Another good way to increase photography sales is by offering season-specific images or photo packages. Selling seasonal photo services means you need to be very proactive in marketing yourself. 

By January, you should be working on selling wedding packages. In June sell photography packages for back-to-school and senior photos. Once you get to September it’s time to think about holiday photos and cards.

You’ll want to show everything your clients will receive with each of your photo packages and have different targeting strategies for every plan.

Once your plans are set up and ready to go, repeat the offer every year with something just a bit new or different.

You will need a lot of momentum in the beginning, but having a large selection of products will keep your customers coming back for more!

As you start promoting your growing photography business, remember to keep your audience in mind.

Making photo education your business

People looking online for photographs or photography services may not know a lot about art or how you make your photographs. Be gentle with these customers, they are just opening up and you have the chance to show them something new!

If you’re starting a photography business, it’s important to offer multiple tiers of services to your clients. You also want to make yourself available so they can contact you with questions or concerns.

Go above and beyond as you build new relationships. People are more more likely to buy more photos if they feel they are getting something extra!

4. Keep Growing Your Business

If you’re starting a photography business, you can increase sales by becoming an authority in a specific photography niche.

Could you be a destination wedding photographer in the tropics? What about a photographer for new moms? Try some of the marketing strategies above as you get going, but don’t stop at your first photo package.

A food photographer shows the value of a specific niche when you're starting a photography business

If you want continued success and to keep building your photography business, you need to keep evolving your products.

Offer different formats for your most popular images, so customers will have new ways to keep a favorite photo. Offering photo t-shirts, eBooks, or jewelry, for example, will keep them coming back for more.

Once you get your website and products ready, it becomes passive income. All you have to do is the thing you already love doing- taking photographs.

You’ll still need to be available for personal services, but most of your products will make money on their own.

Continuing to expand your photography business also gives you credibility in a competitive industry. It can help you bring in new customers and grow your photography business even further.

If you’re a passionate photographer, starting a photography business online is simple. Build up your photo portfolio, grow a social media presence, develop a website with your photographs, and start making sales!

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.