How to run a photography business

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

It has been about two weeks since my last wedding, and while I am wrapping up album designs and other miscellaneous items from the season, I am already writing to-do lists for what to do during the doldrums of the off-season.  Luckily I have two weddings in December, but after that I will be retreating to my home office until the snow thaws.  Here is a list to help other photographers on things to do when business slows down.  Looking to start a photography business?  Here is a list to help you answer the question, “How to run a photography business?”

How to run a photography business


  • Send in your gear for maintenance and cleaning
  • Update your website and marketing materials
  • Create a blog schedule
  • Create a marketing campaign and schedule for seasons, holidays, and promotions
  • Network, network, network
  • Reach out to other vendors and do some cross-promotion.  Take photos of their product and services.
  • Revise your portfolio
  • Sell unused gear and reinvest into the business
  • Watch those CreativeLive videos that you bought and haven’t gotten around to
  • Develop new surveys, questionnaires, and materials to provide to your clients pre and post-wedding.
  • Join a local wedding event group
  • Crunch your business numbers
  • Set aside regularly scheduled time to plan and goal set.  Who doesn’t like dreaming big, right?  One of my favorite and most productive purchases of 2015 was my Shinola journal.
  • Review your products and remove any that aren’t selling
  • Create a Pinterest board of images, styles, ideas, inspiration for 2016
  • Start planning a photo shoot for yourself
  • Give back to the community that has given so much to you as an artist
  • Practice the 80/20 rule on Instagram – Comment on others 80% of the time/Post 20% of the time.  You would be surprised who follows you back
  • Read, read, read and read some more.  I love reading books on posing and light.  Roberto Valenzuela’s books are some of my favorites.
  • More importantly, read books on business, sales, and marketing.  There is a plethora of books out there on these subjects.  A great book to start with is Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA.
  • While you are at it, why not read biographies of successful people?
  • Look at your workflow – what inefficiency could be improved to make a big difference over the course of next year?
  • Back up your files.  Implement a RAID system or at least Amazon’s unlimited cloud storage.
  • Spend some time with what you are either afraid of, new at, or unknowledgable of.  For me, I will be turning a portion of my basement into a small studio to test lighting modifiers, lighting recipes, and play around with head shots.
  • Visit your local art museum.  I love that the Detroit Institute of Arts is now “free” to residents of Metro-Detroit.
  • Grab coffee with other photographers.  Ask questions.  Learn from each other.  There is enough business for everyone and a strong photo market is better for all of us.
  • Prep for your taxes and log the miles driven for business purposes
  • Open and invest in a Roth IRA if you haven’t already.  If so, open and start investing in a Self-Employed 401(k), SEP, or appropriate plan.
  • While you are at it, you might as well begin reading up on personal finance.  So many great blogs, books, and authors exist who will give you this information for free!  Check out Dave Ramsey, Ramit Sethi, Mr. Money Moustache, David Bach, Suze Orman, and LearnVest.  By no means is this an endorsement of a definitive list, just a friendly nudge to take care of your financial future.
  • Replenish any supplies and prep as much of them as you can (return address labels, etc.)
  • Spend a weekend with loved one.  As a wedding photographer, when is the last time you had a Saturday off?
  • Learn a new software program, skill, or medium (video, gifs, etc.)
  • Learn SEO and being implementing it into your website
  • Call various vendors and renegotiate contracts/fees.  A day of phone calls can save you hundreds over the year.  Just try not to yell too much at the Comcast rep.
  • Check that all of your business paperwork is up to date – insurance, contracts, copyright, etc.
  • Kill your shoot-and-burn business model and develop a customer-oriented In Person Sales business model.  We make art to be viewed and enjoyed, not to die on CDs.
  • Think of new revenue-generating services you can offer.  I know I love teaching photography classes mid week when I am not shooting a wedding.  Not only do I meet great people and talk about a subject I love, but it helps build a community as well.  How to run a photography business.

How to run a photography business.

I started writing this list to help other photographers, only to realize I was writing my own to-do list!  Wow, looks like it needs to be a busy and productive off-season of learning, planning, and most importantly, business building.

Hopefully this can help all of us, veterans and newbies on how to run a photography business.   What’s on your list?  Any tips on how to run a photography business?  Share below.