When I first started my photography business I was lost on the correct way to build.
Many mistakes were made as I went through the process.
I wasn’t sure what needed to be done first, and I spent more time fixing what I did because there wasn’t a resource out there I could find that gave me a simple checklist of what to do next.
Just remember, you are not alone out here.
Below is a list of the things that will help you if you are just starting out OR if you want to see if you have some important things checked off your already growing business.
Feel free to print this out and check off as you work down through it. Also if you have something to add please feel free to do so in the comments.
Free Photography Business Checklist
☐ Develop a business plan & niche. This will answer so many questions along the way from policies, to branding and more so please take the time to really write down who your company will be.
☐ Learn to shoot in manual if you are not already. This is so helpful for learning how to showcase your "style" of shooting.
☐ Choose your business name. Remember this is your brand, choose it with great thought. I made the mistake of jumping into my first company with a name I didn't like later.
☐ Get legal with LLC or other. Tutorial on how to set up an LLC (click here)
☐ Get a business/sales license & EIN
☐ Set up business bank account, you will need your EIN for this
☐ Talk to an accountant to understand Sales Tax & other applicable taxes
☐ Have a logo designed. Spend time on this as it is the face of your company and brand recognition.
☐ Choose company color/theme/brand, your identity. Jot down who you are on paper, what makes you unique, what you love, get ideas about the real you because you truly will want to change it later if it doesn't match your inner self.
☐ Purchase URL or web address. Don't forget to snag your .com and .net if possible. (If you google "godaddy cent" an ad will appear with a URL offer of only $0.99)
☐ Purchase a hosting package for website - Such as @ bluehost.com
☐ Set up blog (you can buy themes/designs from themeforest.com for a small price)
☐ Set up professional email address (such as email@example.com). This can usually be accomplished with your website hosting company.
☐ Set up an Accounting Worksheet for tracking sales, purchases, miles, net profit and more.
☐ Read "How To Create An Effective Auto Email Responder". It is so important to give your customer info when you aren't available but also make them feel like you are being personable which an auto-responder can do the opposite with.
☐ Develop an email signature that has links to your site, blog & social media. Such as:
☐ Develop a list of session types & packages. Think of what you are willing to offer and what works best with your company. Important: Do not over promise delivery times.
☐ Develop your pricing list. Please do not do this without figuring in ALL of your business costs or you will quickly be out of business & in debt.
☐ Purchase a photographers planner to help you organize your business, goals & success
☐ Develop business policies & processes (digital image policy, retainer, ordering, cancellation, scheduling, product delivery etc.) - very important item! Please take your time developing this, cover everything. It's easier to refer back to if your client becomes confused with the process if you can point them to documents you both signed or looked over.
☐ Have a Photography Contracts drawn up professionally (include model release, copyright, retainer policy and more)
☐ Set up business insurance
☐ Find your photography niche. This is going to be important. If you are shooting everything you are not becoming an in demand expert in a field.
☐ Do some marketing research for your local area. What are people searching for such as: Wedding Photographer in Howell, MI. Use this info as keywords, text and phrases on your website/blog.
☐ Develop short term marketing plan. How much as you willing to spend for the year? What do you think your target audience sees most? Short term goals can be a quick giveaway, etc.
☐ Develop email marketing campaign. Your blog can automatically send out emails to subscribers each time you make a new blog post or you can use something like mailchimp.
☐ Develop a blogging schedule, consistency is key. Tip: Each post title should be keywords first such as " Photographing a wedding at the Henry Ford Museum - Jessica & Don". Note the emphasis to google will be the important words first.
☐ Find local stores/vendors that will allow swap marketing. For instance a wedding photog could go to a cake store and tell them you would love to take some photographs that they can use in marketing if they are willing to share your business cards with brides asking about photographers.
☐ Make a marketing calendar to keep you on track. Know which days you are schedule to do what. Do not over post offers!
☐ Build promotional campaigns & specials. You can use Facebook Ads or Google Adwords to develop awareness. Make sure you are choosing your target audience so that your money is spent wisely. Think of demographics.
☐ Choose your product line. What would you like to offer clients? Ask printers to send samples of paper and products if possible. When clients can feel it in their hands they are more likely to pick something better that you may offer.
☐ Order business cards - such as Moo
☐ Set up accounts with professional printing companies (such as WHCC or CG PRO for Canvas)
☐ Set up online gallery (such as smugmug)
☐ Learn to use editing programs – Free photo editing videos
☐ Develop your editing style so that you are recognized - learn editing tips here
☐ Develop rep programs (seniors, babies, moms) We love to offer our referring customers a small canvas print from CG Pro because it is affordable and beautiful.
☐ Develop client reveal process (online gallery or in-person gallery)
☐ Develop client testimonial campaign (very important – helps world of mouth). Don't be afraid to follow up with each client and ask that they write a review after receiving their prints. Put it in your workflow as a final step.
☐ Sign up for merchant account if accepting credit cards (such as PayPal)
☐ Plan a workflow process for editing
☐ Set up social media sites (Facebook, Google+, Twitter etc.)
☐ Research & get educated on SEO. This is absolutely positively necessary if you plan to be found on the internet!
Some of the links included in this list are affiliate links to our favorite vendors. Check out their sites & blogs for more great advice!