So, you’ve decided to become a newborn photographer. Whether you are turning your part-time passion into your full-time job or taking that hobby and making it a side hustle; you’ll want to ensure you set yourself up for success in this highly competitive, specialized, one-of-a-kind niche!
Starting a successful photography business takes more than just talent, skills, and expertise. And while making a name for yourself is extremely rewarding, it can also be very challenging. However, below are my top 7 tips to help you start a successful business!
Wearing Many Hats
While you may be a creative and talented photographer, to succeed in this highly competitive niche, you also need to be a savvy and smart entrepreneur. Starting a business requires the owner to wear many hats and requires you to master many skills. Not only do you have to be great at capturing those Pinterest worthy portraits, you also need to be a customer service representative, PR person, social media manager, marketing director, bookkeeper, website builder, editor, and CEO. Whew!
But as your business grows and positive profits start to turn, you can outsource many of these tasks to professional virtual employees. But at the start, be ready to get your hands dirty in managing many different aspects of your new freelance business.
Set Clear Business Goals/Create a Solid Business Plan
If you want your new business to succeed, you need to take some time setting clear goals. Some things to consider when creating your business plan and goals would be: how many hours a week will you work, how much do you need to save in order to pay taxes/health insurance/props/equipment, and finally how much do you need to make annually to ensure your business is profitable as well as giving yourself a salary. Personally, I would recommend purchasing some home software that will help you track income and expenses. There are many options out there that are free or will have you pay a small monthly fee in order to continually access the services.
Create Pricing Packages
Creating pricing packages is tricky for many new businesses starting out. Putting a monetary number to your services is something many photographers struggle with, and deciding your rates does take a little research on your part. When figuring out what your prices should be, you will need to do a little market research for your area. Google other local newborn photographers in your area and see what their pricing packages are. Why? Because you don’t want to price your services too high or too low compared to other photographers in your area. You want to be sure your rates are set to a fair standard compared to others in your demographic area.
Draft Contract Templates
Contracts help run your business smoothly but it also lays out expectations. At the bare minimum, your contract template should include the following 4 things:
- Portrait Contract/Model Release: A portrait contract is a document that lists out the expectations between photographer and client. A model release grants the photographer the right to publish the photos of the minor child/parents/siblings and is signed by parents or legal guardians.
- Final Sales Agreement: This part of the contract lays out the final cost that will be incurred by the client. Generally, this is signed the day of the shoot. This section of the contract also waives any “cooling off” laws your state has to ensure the client cannot change his or her mind and not pay for services rendered.
- Album/Artwork Design Agreement: Creating albums or artwork for clients can cost you hundreds of dollars. This portion of a contract explains that by signing this portion, a client is approving and agreeing to purchasing this work from you.
- Delivery Agreement: This is signed by the client when the final album or artwork is delivered to them. This contract is stating that all commissioned work has been received and delivered as expected.
Insurance for Your Business
Not only do you need to legally protect yourself with client contracts; you also need to protect yourself with insurance coverage. Be sure to check with your particular state on how much coverage you will need but generally, you will probably have to budget between $500 to $2,000 annually for property liability and other business coverage.
Studio Space, Gear, and Props
When starting your business, money will be tight. Therefore; only purchase necessary equipment! As a newborn photographer you will probably be shooting either in a studio or in homes. As a studio photographer, there are two options to creating a designated space. Many studio photographers take a small portion of their home and convert it into an in-home studio. This not only saves money because you aren’t paying rent to a landlord for a designated studio space but it makes the commute to work really easy! If you choose to be a lifestyle newborn photographer, there is no need for a studio space since you will be photographing a new family in the comforts of their own home.
Gear is necessary but also an expense. When starting out, try to find a local fellow newborn photographer who can be your mentor and can help you decide what gear you truly need to start out
Choosing to be a newborn photographer also involves props. And props are not cheap, so it’s important to invest in the right ones. To start out, choose basic, multi-use props and slowly build up your collection as you gain experience (and profits!).
Below is a basic list of must have newborn props:
When considering newborn props, remember that safety is the utmost priority in this field. You never want to purchase a prop or wrap that will cause harm to a newborn; no matter how cute it may be.
Besides gear and props, you will also need to invest in the following:
- Backdrops, light stands, and claps
- Space heater: Studios need to be kept at a temperature that is comfortable for newborns
- White noise maker: To create those dreamy, adorable, newborn photos that all new parents want, the baby needs to be kept asleep. Shutters are noisy and white noise helps mask this sound to keep the baby peacefully snoozing while you snap away!
Finally, invest in a mentor. There are many working parts that go into running a successful newborn photography business. Not only do you want your business to be set-up for success; you also need to be set up for success as well. Taking classes from a seasoned, professional, newborn photographer will help alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety. Why do you ask? Not only do you learn the best tips, tricks, and techniques, but most educators allow the mentees to ask questions! Getting real time feedback to any question you may have is invaluable and helps build confidence knowing you are getting the right answers to your questions. You also get real hands-on experience with real-life newborns. And at the end of the session you are able to leave with the gorgeous portraits you took during your time with the mentor. If you are in the Orange County area and interested in being mentored by Candice from Candice Swanson Photography, please check out this post to find out more information!
Working as a newborn photographer is an extremely rewarding profession. Whether you are turning your passion into a part-time side hustle, or turning this into your full-time career, if you follow these 7 steps, you will have a successful and booming business in no time at all!