For today’s post I asked photographer Aspen Cierra to tell us more about the business side of photography. Know your cost of doing business (what’s the lowest amount you’ll get out of bed for?) and you will learn why contracts are important!
I’m Aspen of Aspen Cierra Photography and 2016 marked my first year in business as a freelance photographer. After graduating from a private arts college, I was ready to take the world by storm and share my photographic gift as my primary means of sustaining myself. But when the hard knocks of entrepreneurship hit, I soon learned that I needed to take a step back and establish some key parts of my business model. If you are looking into starting your own photography business 3 parts that I would recommend having set up before you take on any clients.
Have an onboarding process
Having an onboarding process is key when it comes to turning potential clients into paying clients. An onboarding process starts from the initial contact form or email address on your website to the deposit and booking stage. My personal onboarding process starts with someone either emailing me directly or through the contact form on my website, then I send them a questionnaire to get a feel for what exactly they want for the shoot. From that point we move onto scheduling the shoot, paying a deposit and signing the shoot agreement. I have clients pay a 50% of the total shoot fee to book my time and then require it to be paid a week after then shoot when I typically send the client the images. This timeline can be tweaked depending on the client but this is usually my protocol for my smaller clients.
Contracts are key
Know the importance of getting everything in writing. As a fashion photographer, this includes everything from model releases and independent contractor agreements to usage rights and invoices. When making contracts make sure to state what you do and don’t do in your services and how/when how you are to be paid. Specify how long the length of the contract is and how you or the person you are going into business with can get out of the contract. Make sure to specify what you do as a photographer when it comes to retouching, if you do your own retouching. Include how and when your services are delivered such as ‘one week after shoot via Dropbox’ or something of that nature. Not having written agreements with clients can lead to issues later on. Contracts protect both parties from issues that could arise during a shoot or any problems with the finished product. From how photos should be edited and delivered to how to handle rescheduling or cancelling shoots last minute, all of these should be covered in a contract. If you are just starting out you can find independent contractor templates that you can tweak to use in the beginning but I would recommend working with a contract lawyer to draft up a contract specific to your business needs.
Know your Cost of Doing Business
When you decide to go into business for yourself, pricing is one of the hardest aspects to come up with. It’s one I still struggle with myself. Pricing fluctuates depending on much experience you have, the required amount of work and the deadline for the shoot and finished product. To help you figure out pricing you should calculate your CODB or cost of doing business. I call this “the lowest amount I’ll get out of bed for.” The NPPA or The National Press Photographers Association has an easier calculator to help you calculate your expenses and determine what your bottom line of cost of doing business is. To help with pricing in general my bookkeeper Iyanna of Iyanna.co created a pricing calculator, that can be found here, that helps you break down how much your business your business must make, how many clients you must take on, the number of clients you can accept a month and more.
If you’re interested in learning more about the business of photography or how to use photography for your business check out my blog and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.
Thanks Aspen for the great advice for our readers! If you are a blogger/photographer and if you are interested in a guest blog post too, contact me for more info.