“Danette is a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer who’s photographed over 1,500 weddings and elopements in 14 different states. She has a passion for teaching business and helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. She’s also a staff writer for Fstoppers.com and leads a monthly entrepreneur meeting for creatives in Las Vegas. She’s been featured in many online publications and business podcasts including Shoot and Share, the Bokeh Podcast, Offbeat Bride, Forbes, The Knot, Weddingwire, MSN, Popsugar and Bridal Guide. She loves cats, Harry Potter, lots of wine, and a smidge of whiskey.”
2018 marks my 10th year in business as a professional photographer. Eight of those years have been spent running my business in Las Vegas. I’ve learned a lot in that period while trying to navigate the murky waters of building a successful photography business. So my question to you is, do you know what it takes to run a successful photography business in Las Vegas?
The first hard lesson I learned about running my business was that my passion for photography and the technical side of being a photographer was not going to be enough to make my business successful. I learned after years of my business floundering that I also needed to know and understand the business aspect of my business. That sounds crazy to me that I thought I could run a successful business without knowing how actually to run a business, but it’s true. And I would wager to guess that most small business owners starting out are also like me. They became a small business owner because they had a passion for something and wanted to make a living doing that thing professionally. A recent Harvard Business study says that 9 out of 10 new small businesses fail. 50% of all small businesses fail within five years while 70% fail after ten years. Let those numbers sink in for a moment. Those statistics are grim.
Let’s talk about the photography industry specifically for a moment. The photography industry is one of The most saturated markets in the country, and Las Vegas is one of the most oversaturated photography markets in the nation. So how does a photographer expect to succeed in a sea of other photographers? The answer is that you need to have a strong foundation for your business, and a brand that sticks out. So how do you make that happen? Here are three secrets to building a successful photography business in Las Vegas:
You Need to Have a Strong Brand
Branding is one of the most overlooked areas in business. A common reason for this is because most people have a misconception as to what the word “branding” really means. When people think of branding, they often think of large corporations like Walmart, Starbucks, or FedEx. Largely people confuse the word branding with a brand name or a brand logo. But actually, the real definition of “branding” is the perception that someone gets when they see or think of you or your business.
The reason why branding is so important to your photography business is that it’s going to help set the proper expectation for your future clients. Not only is it right to set appropriate expectations so that clients know what to expect when they meet with you or have a photo session with you, but branding also helps to introduce your personality to your clients. Clients knowing your personality is valuable because it’s one of the most essential tools you’ll have to distinguish yourself from the sea of photographers in Las Vegas. Truth be told, clients are looking for an experience. Most clients coming to a photographer don’t know the difference between average photography and exceptional photography. It’s up to us to add value to our services. One of the ways we do that is by having a strong brand.
Creating Consistent Work
Another strong tool that we photographers have in shaping our brand is the work that we create through photography. The style of post-processing we do, the angles we choose to shoot with, and the compositions we most frequently use, all play a part in defining our brand. Churning out consistent work is exceptionally important in having a strong foundation to our business. This means having a distinct post-processing style. After all, having a successful photography business is all about distinguishing yourself from the crowd.
One of the most alluring aspects of owning a small business is being able to take back time for yourself. If we don’t know how to manage our time correctly, then our dream of owning a business can quickly become an obligation. There is a fair bit of administrative work that goes into running any successful business. Photography businesses are no different. And if there’s something that can make a photography business become an obligation quickly, it’s being stuck behind a desk and a computer more than being out with a client taking photos. Time management is the glue that will help to keep your passion for photography strong.
These are just a few tips to get you started on your journey of growing your business. Continue working, try new things, and stay consistent. In time, you’ll see growth and you’ll be able to have the satisfaction of seeing all of your hard work paying off.