3 Things I've Learned About Running a Photography Business

You can listen to the audio version of this blog here.

Greetings from Las Vegas! I’m here for the Wedding MBA conference where I’ll get to learn from a bunch of people who are way smarter than me. Looking forward to the next couple days.

Last week, my body finally said enough, and I was forced to stay locked up in my cave for a little bit. It was really frustrating, but I made it through. Turns out it was actually good for me, because I was able to reassess and work through some things.

It’s been just about a year since we left Chattanooga, and I left my job. It’s also been a year since I started the podcast as well. It was obviously a huge shift and a trek into the unknown.

This has been the happiest year of my life, while simultaneously the hardest. It’s been hard in a good way, because I just love what I’m doing.

That all said, this year has been a crash course in marketing, customer service, sales, and a most of the other mechanics of running a business. When I started photography, all the education I wanted surrounded the mechanics of photography. Turns out, taking pictures is actually only 20% of the job, so now, everything I learn and absorb has to help me get better at the other 80%.

The most shocking part about running a real deal photography business is that being a great photographer doesn’t even necessarily get you in the door, there’s a whole other list of things that you have to be good at in order to be successful in this world:

Want people to care about what you do? Start by caring about them.

I’ve talked before about how I’m a bad salesman because I can’t really sell anything I don’t believe in. I think that’s generally a good thing. The fact is, I don’t want a job, but rather to actually give people something that makes them happy or more informed about the things they want to know.

When it comes to wedding photography, I’ve been working on a way to help brides more effectively. It’s taken months of education and experimentation, but I’m getting close to launching it soon.

Basically, I have no desire to be in a business that I can’t bring value or help customers with what they are looking for, which is why it probably takes me longer get things ironed out. I don’t only want to help give couples excellent photos on their wedding day, but also how give them more before and even after the event takes place.

Stay tuned for more on that, I’m in the planning stages this week, so hopefully I start to get it going next week.

Social Media content is very important, but requires as much planning as any other marketing approach.

Just because we have these cheaper and easier mass communication platforms that we can use to market our businesses, it doesn’t mean that strategy shouldn’t still come into play. Not only that, the shear amount of content that one must create to even make a dent just isn’t sustainable. Take it from me, the guy who shot a daily vlog for 300 days in a row or took a new photo every day for 8 years: While that amount of content creation is possible, it can take over your life very quickly and run you down for everything else.

I post on Instagram daily, blog daily, have a weekly podcast, who’s frequency is getting slowly increased, but it’s gotten easier, because I’m organizing my time differently than before. Rather than waking up and cranking it out every day, I’m batching podcasts, or writing multiple blogs at a time, and just managing my time in order to continue making content but also still balance all the other things I have to actually do (Like you know, take photos).

(If you want to hear more about the importance of content creation, check out my podcast interview with Michelle Taylor of Taylor Brand Consulting)

Ask Questions

Part of the reason I started the podcast was to simply ask questions and learn from people who are good at what they do. In many ways, the podcast is a somewhat selfish project, because it’s an outlet for me to learn about things I want to know.

I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people who are excellent at what they do over my photography career. It’s not only informative and helpful, but also a source of comfort to know that others are working through the same things that I’m working through. Community in professional life is hugely important to success, because Will Malone Photography doesn’t exist without all the help I receive from others. (Not to mention the support that I get from my wife. I couldn’t do any of this without her.)

This list could go on forever, but I’ll stop it here for now. Got all kinds of stuff headed your way this week, so stay tuned!

You can listen to the audio version of this blog here.