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How to Start a Pet Photography Business 06: How to Market Yourself

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 06: How to Market Yourself

534dd60ad029b6.22985854 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 06: How to Market Yourself

 

Good job! You have been making great progress in our “How to Start a Pet Photography Business” series. Last time, we talked about testing your skills as a photographer. It’s important that you are confident in your skills to move forward and start making money with your artistic abilities. Moving along onto this week’s topic which is about marketing those skills.

If you’re just joining us, here is what you have missed up to this point: In Chapter one, we discuss the differences between opening a studio or using the great outdoors for your studio. It’s important to choose a path that supports your pet photography business vision and photographic style. In Chapter Two, we focused on the products you will offer and your unique selling proposition that supports raving fans that tell their friends and family how amazing you and your artwork are in the marketplace. In Chapter Three, we discussed the essential pieces of equipment you need to get your pet photography business on track. In Chapter Four, we discussed what you should charge for your pet photography. In Chapter Five, we focused on testing your skills.

Now that you have set the stage for a great business, we are ready to dive into Chapter Six. This week, we will discuss how to starting marketing your business. Ready? Go!

Branding vs. Marketing

First, let’s talk about the difference between branding and marketing.

Branding – A name, logo, slogan, and/or design scheme associated with a product or service.
Marketing – An organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders (thank you wikipedia).

So you broadcast your BRAND out to the public through MARKETING. Yep, it’s that simple.

First we need to start with your brand. One of the best pieces of advice I received from someone was to send my website of images out to 5-7 people that I trust and respect. Then ask them to describe your work in 3 to 5 adjectives. You will be amazed with the responses. Go ahead and do this. We’ll wait.

6 Marketing Ideas

Marketing is the key.

I don’t care how bark-a-licious your images are or how delicious your session treats are. If you don’t market your work, then only you will enjoy your bark-a-licious images while you gulp down tasty dog treats (yikes!) Marketing is the fun stuff so release your inner creative and go for it!

If you’re crafty then hand make your business cards or coordinate events with your referral partners (aka people who send you business) at their place of
business. Here are some more FREE or inexpensive marketing ideas:

1. Big Events

What are some big events in your town? I contacted a local dog 5K and asked to do a Cover Contest. The winning dog got to be on the cover of a local dog magazine (I utilized two referral partners for this one – magazine editor and non-profit prez).

2. Unique Product

Create a special product like hand-painted frames to get people talking about your business – get the “buzz” going about you and your fab artwork.

3. Non-Profits

Call a rescue or non-profit and ask to be in their live auction with a gift certificate and attend the event. Meet potential clients and have fun! Offer to photograph a charity event and give them 15 free images in exchange to have your gift certificate in the Top Donor’s prize basket.

4. Random Parks

Put on your blog that you will be randomly showing up at parks in your area to photograph dogs. Tweet it, Facebook it and tell everyone and their mother what you are doing.

5. Doggie Day Cares

Place samples of your artwork in doggie day cares and pet stores in neighborhoods with your target market.

6. Newsletter

Do a “Woof of the Month” newsletter.

Branding

I interviewed Janie Hewson of Marketing Creatives and she shared with me some fabulous insights about photographers and branding. Branding and marketing was so confusing to me when I first started. This response from Janie really tackled some confusion bubbles for me (pop!)
JANIE: Branding is not something you do.
It’s something you understand and use.

A business, person or creative is branded by others — it is the other’s thoughts, feelings and understanding of you that is your brand.

In photography, knowing and using your brand is an asset. It allows you to maximize your talent and business in decision-making by giving you a criteria or benchmark to judge all choices. The most important thing a creative can do is to know how you and your work are known and perceived in your market. It is process of studying how others describe you, know you and what they feel about you. It takes research into the mind of your market.

The work of understanding your brand teaches you what steps will work for your business

Terminology

How your work is perceived by your clients determines how much you can charge for your work. In order to get a high-end perception, you need to eliminate some terminology from your language and replace it with more fabulous work. Here are some examples:
BAD: “I just ordered your photos
GOOD: “I just ordered your artwork
BAD: “Here are our packages” (we are NOT JCPenneys!)
GOOD: “Here are our collections
BAD: “This is my sitting fee
GOOD: “ This is my creation fee
BAD: “I can take your pictures
GOOD: “You can commission me for artwork
Use words that GIVE VALUE to you and your service!

Moving Forward

Great job! Now you have a good idea the difference between branding and marketing and a few marketing ideas in your back pocket, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 7: Sales ConsultationWe will take a look at the key success factors when running a smooth and easy sales consultation.

In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!

About the Author

Logobluered2small1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 06: How to Market Yourself

Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!

PetPhotographyEBookWidget1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 06: How to Market Yourself

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

 

professional photographer How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

Way to go! You have been making great progress in our “How to Start a Pet Photography Business” series. Last time, we explored what you should charge for your pet photography artwork. Pricing is a hot topic but very important to ensure that you are making a profit in your business. Your pet photography business is not a charity. Moving along onto this week’s topic which is about testing your pet photography skills.

If you’re just joining us, here is what you have missed up to this point: In Chapter one, we discuss the differences between opening a studio or using the great outdoors for your studio. It’s important to choose a path that supports your pet photography business vision and photographic style. In Chapter Two, we focused on the products you will offer and your unique selling proposition that supports raving fans that tell their friends and family how amazing you and your artwork are in the marketplace. In Chapter Three, we discussed the essential pieces of equipment you need to get your pet photography business on track. In Chapter Four, we discussed what you should charge for your pet photography.

Now that you have set the stage for a great business, we are ready to dive into Chapter Five. This week, we are focused on testing your skills. I created a series of exercises for you to self score on a scale of 0-10. So let’s dive in…

Exercise #1: Use unique props

IMG 1159 682x1024 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills
For this exercise, take your dog or a friend’s dog out and utilize a unique prop. I brought an old glass table to the session and the dogs had a hey day looking at their reflections! The owners thought it was a cool idea too.
What interesting props do you have laying around the house? A vintage chair or table? Be creative.

How did it turn out? Grade yourself on a scale of 0-10.

___ Creativity

___ Clarity – is the dog in focus or what you want the center of attention in focus?

___ Connection – does the image capture the dog’s spirit?

___ Reaction – when you showed the image to another dog lover, what was their reaction? Good, bad, or ugly?

Exercise #2 -Focus on the Eyes

In this exercise, take your model or a friend’s dog and take a picture of the dog’s face. First, put your camera in aperture priority and set your aperture to the lowest setting (f/2.8 is ideal if possible). Second, take a picture of a dog’s face with only the eyes in focus. Third, take a picture of the dog’s face with only it’s nose in focus. This is usually pretty easy to do with long-snout dogs like golden retrievers or Labradors.

How did it turn out? Grade yourself on a scale of 0-10.

___ Was only the eyes in focus for the first exercise?

___ Was only the nose in focus for the second exercise?

___ Did you have a nice blur outside your center of focus?

Exercise #3 – Act Quickly!

IMG 2144 682x1024 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

Most dogs move fast and they don’t wait for you to set up the shot. Instead, anticipate the shot. This was with a group of five French Bulldogs at Red Rocks National Park.
I saw all the Frenchies turn and start running down the hill. I quickly crouched down and pointed my camera at the last dog. I made a quick dog whine noise which made the dog look at me just for a second. Just enough to get this sweet Bark-A-Licious shot!

In this exercise, borrow a friend’s dog that moves fast. Jack Russells or any fast moving dog you can find. A trip to the dog park would be fine too. Set your camera to shutter priority for around 1/500 second. Now crouch down and find your target. Use panning to find the dog and start clicking.

How did it turn out? Grade yourself on a scale of 0-10.

___ Focus – Were most of your images in focus?

___ Connection – Did you capture the dog’s spirit?

Exercise #4 – Tell a story

IMG 8871 1024x682 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

Ollie (the adorable German Shepherd puppy) was owned by a couple that just got married. They gushed over each other and their new puppy during the session. Having the dog in focus and them blurred in the back tells a story about their love and who is the center of their love.

For this exercise, use your dog or borrow your friend’s dog and set up an image that tells a story.

How did it turn out? Grade yourself on a scale of 0-10.

___ Story – ask someone who was not at the shoot to look at the picture and tell a story. Can they come up with one?

___ Creativity

How did you score? If you scored over 5 on most of the exercise questions, then you might be ready for business!

Moving Forward

Great job! Now you have a good idea where you should set your pricing, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 6: How to Market Yourself. We will discuss what your state requires you to abide by when you open up your pet photography business.

In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!

About the Author

Logobluered2small1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!

PetPhotographyEBookWidget1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 05: Test Your Skills

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 04: What Should You Charge

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 04: What Should You Charge

receive money How to Start a Pet Photography Business 04: What Should You Charge

 

Congratulations! You have been making incredible progress in our “How to Start a Pet Photography Business” series. Last time, we explored what equipment you will need for your pet photography business. Keeping an eye on only the essentials until you get more money in the door is a wise decision. It might not be the easiest but it will increase your chances of long-time success.  Okay, let’s focus on this week’s topic which is about what you should charge for your pet photography.

If you’re just joining us, here is what you have missed up to this point: In Chapter one, we discuss the differences between opening a studio or using the great outdoors for your studio. It’s important to choose a path that supports your pet photography business vision and photographic style. In Chapter Two, we focused on the products you will offer and your unique selling proposition that supports raving fans that tell their friends and family how amazing you and your artwork are in the marketplace. In Chapter Three, we discussed the essential pieces of equipment you need to get your pet photography business on track.

Now that you have set the stage for a great business, we are ready to dive into Chapter Four. This week, we are focused on what you should charge your new clients. I have found this to be the most difficult topic to discuss with new pet photographers. So let’s dive in…

Pricing is a HOT topic. People want to know what to charge their clients. We hear that we need to raise our prices but after we raise them, we sweat it, lose sleep over it (I’ve been there!) and cringe when a client asks for our prices. Ugh! This has to end!

Here is an analogy I like to use about pricing. There are two kinds of pricing:

Transactional vs. High-End Pricing

Transactional

Think WALMART. Lots of volumes and low prices. If you had this business model, then you would be the cheapest on the market and working 80-100 hours a week to pay your bills.

High-End

Think Bugatti customized Italian cars. Low volume and high prices. If you had this business model then you would have a few clients per month with higher prices.
Everyone in the middle gets kicked around in the market. Your goal is to be like Bugatti.

Creation Fee

Here is my KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) concept on pricing. Let’s start with my Creation Fee (not sitting fee! Remember a customer’s perception of your value is reality.)

This is my time line for my pricing:

1st year: $100 or FREE – I received a lot of (1) 8×10 clients (sigh)
2nd year: $125 – Same situation as above but more volume as my name got out
3rd year: $200 – Good place and some people started to complain about my price.
4th year: $300 – Attracted high-end clients and weeded out the (1) 8×10 “D” clients.

I heard someone tell me that unless 80% of the people you encounter say, “You’re too expensive” then you aren’t priced high enough!
PERSONAL NOTE: Increasing your prices is tough. I’ve been through the sleepless nights and crying in the shower. It’s okay. Be confident in your artwork and share with people the value you bring to the table. You can do this.

Easy-Peasy Pricing

How do I price my products? I know my costs but how do I choose a price. Do I guess?

No. Here is a simple formula. It requires a little work but once it’s done you can be confident in your pricing.

PRODUCT COST + LABOR X 4 = PRICE

For example:
16×20 Canvas
$106.56 – Base Cost
$10.00 – Black paper backing
$14.95 – Shipping
$12.50 Labor $25/hr (the prep time was 1/2 hr)
$144.01
          x 4
$576

I wanted all of my products to end in a “9” (to be neat) so I made the price $579. Ta-Da!

8×10 Prints

8×10 prints are a whole other basket of treats…. The base price for my 8×10 is $3.05 but I’m not giving away my 8x10s for $12.20!!! I wouldn’t go lower than $40 for an 8×10. Explain to your client that they are not just buying the paper. They are buying your vision, art and professional editing.

Moving Forward

Great job! Now you have a good idea where you should set your pricing, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 5: Test Your Skills. We will focus on testing your skills. Are you ready to bring on paying clients?

In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!

About the Author

Logobluered2small1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 04: What Should You Charge

Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!

PetPhotographyEBookWidget1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 04: What Should You Charge

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 03: What Equipment Will You Need

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 03: What Equipment Will You Need

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Congratulations! You have been making incredible progress in our “How to Start a Pet Photography Business” series. Last time, we explored different products you could sell in your pet photography business. Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and focuses on a few core products will make you stand out in the market. Assuming you are still on board to start your pet photography business, let’s focus on this week’s topic which is about what equipment you need to get started.

If you’re just joining us, here is what you have missed up to this point: In Chapter one, we discuss the differences between opening a studio or using the great outdoors for your studio. It’s important to choose a path that supports your pet photography business vision and photographic style. In Chapter Two, we focused on the products you will offer and your unique selling proposition that supports raving fans that tell their friends and family how amazing you and your artwork are in the marketplace.

Now that you have set the stage for a great business, we are ready to dive into Chapter Three. This week, we are focused on equipment. Equipment is a topic that gets a lot of people excited and confused at the same time. Let’s dive in…

Want vs. Need

Starting your pet photography business with the essential tools is paramount to building your business. It’s easy to jump into “I NEED everything” and go into debt very quickly. We’ve seen photographers drop five figures to buy the “best of the best” camera body and lenses that they will never use (or maybe once) before they even have a website or brand for their business. They then fall into the trap of desperately working to pay off their minimum credit card balance instead of thinking about the beautiful artwork being created with each and every client. Make your business a blessing, not a curse. Besides all that jazz, it’s an exciting process to pick out new lenses (aka glass) and ensure that you have a camera body that gets the job done. You can upgrade your glass and camera body as you build cash flow into your business.

Essential Equipment

Let’s talk about the basic equipment you will need:

  • Camera
  • One Lens
  • Camera bag
  • Two memory cards
  • Treats
  • Squeaker

Camera – Today you need something that gets the job done. Down the road, when the cash is rolling in, then you can buy that fancy camera. A camera will a biz-zillion focus points and 50 buttons on the back is unnecessary at this time. The requirements are as follows: 1) It’s a camera that can take high quality images up the size that you will sell (starting with 8×10 size prints is a great place to start) and 2) You know how to use it. You don’t need all the bells and whistles (yet).

One Lens - This is a place where we can go a little bananas. “I need more glass! I need more glass!,” you say. If you are wondering if you already have the lens of choice, then ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I comfortable using this lens?

2. Do I know it’s sweet spot?

3. Do I like using it?

Note: Some people like a fixed 50mm because they enjoying moving around a lot in a session, but others prefer a 75-300mm so they don’t have to move around as much. (Make that zoom lens work for you!)

Camera Bag – There are quite a lot of choices on the market. There are backpacks, messenger bags, shoulder bags and even purses that double as a photo bag. Find one that fits not only your equipment, but also your style.

Two Memory Cards – Yep. Two is the minimum. The saying about memory cards is not IF they will go bad, but WHEN will they go bad. They can go kaput at any time. It’s best practice to always have two memory cards with you at all times.

Treats – I like to use treats that are super STINKY. Think of a time when you opened up a bag of treats and you had to take a step back. Those are the best ones! Any treats that have seafood or other yummy and stinky attributes would be the winner for a photo session. You want a treat that will get the dog’s attention. NOTE: Always ask your client if you dog has allergies! I once had a dog allergic to chicken (yikes!). We ended up using cheerios as treats for the photo session. Who knew Cheerios could entice a canine!

Squeakers - Squeakers is a broad term because it could mean a variety of items. For example, a squeaker could be:

1. Squeaky tennis ball

2. Squeaker toy (duck, squirrel, etc)

3. Phone app with squeaker noises

4. Your mouth (i.e. whining like a puppy is the best squeaker for dogs like golden retrievers)

Don’t underestimate your personal squeaking abilities!

Special Bonus!

As you special bonus, I added below what’s in a pro’s bag and her checklist before a photo session. How is your bag different?

  • Camera____
  • Batteries charged____
  • Flash_____
  • Extra batteries packed____
  • Memory cards empty ____
  • Extra memory cards packed_____
  • Lenses cleaned _____
  • Items in car _____
  • Camera _____
  • Lenses (28-75mm, 50mm)____
  • Flash ______
  • Client Folder____
  • Client cell phone #_____
  • Blank Photography Contract _____
  • Business cards_____
  • Colorful squeaker balls (big and small)
  • Duck call_____
  • “Poop” bags____
  • Baby wipes_____
  • Kleenex____
  • Client gift with treats and biz card inside____
  • Pricing Menu____
  • Towel_____
  • Extra pants, shirt and shoes_____
  • Lens wipe____
  • Pup-Peroni treats torn up in bite-size pieces____
  • Extra small squeaker

How is your checklist different?

Moving Forward

Great job! Now you have a good idea what essential equipment you need to get your pet photography business started, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 4: What Should You Charge. We will focus on pricing your products competitively and so you make a profit.

In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!

About the Author

Logobluered2small1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 03: What Equipment Will You Need

Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!

PetPhotographyEBookWidget1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 03: What Equipment Will You Need

How To Start a Pet Photography Business 02: Decide What You Will Sell

How To Start a Pet Photography Business 02: Decide What You Will SellIMG 2677 Edit 1024x682 How To Start a Pet Photography Business 02: Decide What You Will Sell

Last time on “How to Start a Pet Photography Business,” we explored the differences between photographing outside or in a studio to help you choose which one best fits your photographic style and vision of your business. Of course, you could go the route of a blended situation where you own or rent a studio but also venture outside in the great outdoors for photo sessions. Assuming you are still on board to start your pet photography business, let’s focus on this week’s topic which is about what products you will offer to your new clients!

That’s correct – it’s time to discuss how you can make smart decisions on your product offerings and services!

Deciding what products you will offer is a big decision you’ll make. After all, what you offer will attract the right customers that turn into raving fans! You will have a following that is passionate about your work and tells all their friends and family about you. They will discover that you offer something unique that customers cannot find anywhere else.

In other words, coming up with your products should be pretty simple and easy because it should be based on what you love to do and why you went into this business. When you are completely in love with your products and services, then your desire and commitment will permeate through everything you do.

Let’s get started, but first, let’s think of a second about WHY setting yourself apart from other pet photographers is important.

Your Unique Selling Proposition

Have you ever heard of a unique selling proposition(USP)? It’s a marketing theory that was created in 1961 by Rosser Reeves, a transformational marketing executive. In this book, “Reality in Advertising,” Reeves explained that ads should always focus on a company’s USP – the single quality or reason that makes your product different or better than your competitor’s. Reeves put this principle into practice in all of his advertisements, including one of the most well-know slogans he ever created – “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand” for M&M’s.

The goal is to not have your USP appeal to everyone. That defeats the purpose of the USP. It should only appeal to your target customer: the person who values high-end photography or artwork or low prices and fast service. At it essence, your USP describes who you are and what you stand for. It’s the one marketing piece that separates you from every other pet photographer out there.

How to Create a USP for Your Pet Photography Business

The Unique Selling Proposition is one of the key components to the success of your pet photography business. You’ll be working with the USP and tweaking it quite a lot for the first few months, but for now let’s come up with an idea with a plan that starts you on the right path. It’s time to pull out your favorite notebook and let the brainstorming begin!

1. Make a List of Every Product You Want To Sell

Let’s start by listing all items you could possibly sell. I mean everything! Dog Treats with pictures printed on them? Anyone? Now some of you may already have an idea of exactly what to sell but many others might be starting at point A. Regardless of what stage you are in, please write down a list.

Some photographers sell only prints and/or digital images. Others might be talented artists that paint hand-painted frames customized to the image within the frame. You can experiment with different mediums and find out what sells to your target customers. Some photographers focus on photo books, t-shirts, hats, mugs and the like. It’s completely your choice.

Now, let’s examine what you wrote down in your notebook. What products appeal to you most? What will be your signature product? Keep in mind that you will be making or ordering these products a lot and you want to keep them simple. A 50 image collage is pretty cool but how long would that take to edit and design in Photoshop? Do you have the skills to create some of these products at the highest quality? Ensure that you choose products that you can complete in a timely manner and enjoy creating.

2. Simplify

Next, review the products on your list and look how you can simplify. People like choices but not too many choices.

There is a famous jam study (famous, at least, among those who research choice), that is often used to bolster this point. Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University and the author of “The Art of Choosing,” (Twelve) to be published next month, conducted the study in 1995.

In a California gourmet market, Professor Iyengar and her research assistants set up a booth of samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. Every few hours, they switched from offering a selection of 24 jams to a group of six jams. On average, customers tasted two jams, regardless of the size of the assortment, and each one received a coupon good for $1 off one Wilkin & Sons jam.

Here’s the interesting part. Sixty percent of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40 percent stopped by the small one. But 30 percent of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3 percent of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.

That study “raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory,” Professor Iyengar said last year, “but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.”

So taking into consideration conducted by Professor Iyengar, fewer choices are better for your customers. Don’t be the Greek restaurant of pet photography. Choose 3-5 products that fit your target market to a tee. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly the “perfect” ones right now. We are just getting started. We have to start somewhere.

When you are done simplifying your product list, you now have a short list of products and please always remember to keep your USP in mind!

3. Consider the Availability

Now you have simplified your list of products, it’s time to start thinking about the availability and logistics of these products. To determine whether or not a product is possible, consider the questions below:

  • Can you create this product or do you need a vendor to create it?
  • Is the vendor national or international?
  • Do you need any special tools? Paint brushes? Re-claimed wood frames?
  • What software do you need to create the product?
  • What photography equipment do you need to create the product? Special lenses?
  • What is the average cost of these products?

Always keeping in mind that fewer products are easier to manage, create and promote. When your products are a focused few core items, then you can target your time and passion on producing the best product possible in the market.

Time to Make it Happen

Good Job! Whew! Now you have come up with a few fantastic products for your pet photography business, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 3: What Equipment Will You NeedWe will walk through the necessary equipment to get you started and other fun purchases that put icing on the cake.

Coming up next: In the third chapter of “How to Start a Pet Photography Business”, we will discuss what equipment you need to get started. In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!

About the Author

Logobluered2small1 How To Start a Pet Photography Business 02: Decide What You Will Sell

Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!

PetPhotographyEBookWidget1 How To Start a Pet Photography Business 02: Decide What You Will Sell

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 01: Should You Go Studio or Outside?

How to Start a Pet Photography Business 01: Should You Go Studio or Outside?

 

IMG 2311 38 1024x682 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 01: Should You Go Studio or Outside?

Welcome to the first chapter of our new blog series: How to Start a Pet Photography Business If you’ve ever wondered how to start a pet photography business, then you have come to the right place! At Barkroom, our goal is to help seasoned professionals to aspiring dreamers like you – take his or her business to the next level. We do that be providing the #1 resource for pet photographers know-how. That’s why we are so excited to bring you a remarkable level of in-depth knowledge  in the “How to Start a Pet Photography” series – a comprehensive, chronological, and totally awesome guide to starting you very own pet photography business. What’s the first stop on our awesome business planning road trip? Helping you decide whether or not a pet photography business that photographs pets inside a studio, outside or both is the right choice for you. After all, all good photographers know that the right settings make or break a photograph. Let’s make sure the most basic  and important of business decisions are the right one for our needs! If you’re ready to go, let’s get started getting some clarity around the single-most important part of this encompassing journey – your dream.

Clarifying Your Dream

It’s no secret that career satisfaction plays a huge role in determining our overall degrees of happiness in life. Doing work that you absolutely love can seriously fulfill your life and nurture your soul – the vital component to figure out is what it is that you really want. Are you entranced by the idea of being a freelance pet photographer that gives you freedom to move around at your desecration during the day? Or do you dream of owning your own studio where you can decorate the walls with your favorite photos and have a bowl of special treats by the door for your furry customers? Where are you – smiling outside among the trees with your camera in your hand taking a deep breath of fresh air, or walking the well-worm floors of your studio and checking your studio equipment in anticipation of your next client appointment? It’s easy to predict what some people might choose. Look at it this way: If you enjoy travel, discovering new photography locations, and being outside, you might flourish on the flexibility of photographing outside. Aspiring entrepreneurs who are eager to get their hands dirty and get excited by the thought of a road trip will love photographing outside. On the other hand, if you prefer stable routines,m dream of being a famous studio photographer, and love to have a place to call home, you might prefer the opportunities that accompany restaurant ownership. Or perhaps your dream involves a little bit of both. Yet, some people get started in the studio and then branch out in the great outdoors due to customer requests or the desire for more background options. Sometimes our furry friends don’t care for the bright lights and atmosphere of a studio. Your only option might be to go outside and capture their spirit in the light of day. All of these options are a legitimate choice, so long as you realize that regardless of your long-term path, you need to fully understand the realities of each choice before making any choices. Entering the photography business is risky – like any entrepreneurial journey – but you can make calculated and educated decisions about your dream when you know what life as a outdoor photographer and a studio photograph is really like.

Examining the Realities

Let’s review the differences between being a studio photographer and an outdoor photographer to help you consider what you’re getting yourself into.

Getting Started

Opening a Studio: According to clickmoms.com, Amber Scruggs of Little Moon Photography opened a studio and the cost was over $10,000. Her rent alone for 1700 sq. ft was $1500 per month. Not only did she has to furnish the studio space but also re-paint which was another $1500. The other issue is samples. What will you decorate your walls with? It took her 3 months to decorate her walls.

No doubt that opening a studio is not the cheapest route. Here are some questions that Amber thinks you should ask yourself before opening a studio:

  • Your pricing is making you profitable. Are you paying yourself a good salary every month?
  • Does it fit your style of shooting? For me it definitely does but if I was a lifestyle shooter then it would not.
  • Do you have money saved up? It’s expensive.
  • Will your clients come to you?
  • Will having the space ADD to your bottom line? This is the most important!! If it won’t help you grow your business then it’s not a good decision for you.

Opening a Outdoor Photography Business: Opening a business where you go to your client and the outdoors is your studio is the less expensive route, but is it the right route for you? There are many things to consider before you open your business. For example,

  • Are you a lifestyle photographer?
  • Are you okay with a little “light” chaos? Photographing pets comes with chaos (similar to photographing kids!) When you are not in the studio, you are not in control of your light. I have a good friend that refuses to photograph outside because she doesn’t know what to put her setting to on her camera! She sets her manual settings and she owns her studio lights like the back of her hand.
  • What is your climate like? Does it rain a lot in your area or do you have lots of sunshine? Is your winter long and arduous or short and sweet?
  • Do you have outdoor gear? Outdoor photography can require hiking boots, knee pads, poop bags and lots of other little “off location” items.

Combo: The other option is to own or rent a studio and also photograph outdoors. Many photographers own studios but are happy to rent out space by the hour. If you are looking to rent a studio by the hour then ask the following questions:

  • Can I use your lighting equipment?
  • If so, what do I need to know about your lighting equipment?
  • Can you stay with me and do a test of my equipment with your lighting equipment? (Not all equipment plays well together!)

Evaluating the Risk

Opening a Studio: Obviously, investing in a studio is a higher risk then being a lifestyle photographer in the great outdoors. There are some risks attached to owning or renting studio space. General Liability Insurance is a must when you have clients and pets in your studio. There is also Property Insurance. What if two rambunctious golden retrievers knock over your lighting equipment? An additional insurance is Crime Insurance. What happens when some hooligans come into your studio and steal your equipment in the wee hours of the morning? It’s not fun to think about but it’s reality and you need to protect your business and yourself. Wow. I definitely sounded like an insurance commercial!

Opening a Outdoor Photography Business: Opening a lifestyle photography business has it’s perks but also risks. Personal injuring on the job can be serious. Dogs can bite when they are scared, dogs can jump off of decks into your face and damage your camera (and your face!). Anything can happen on-location and you need to be  prepared. Good health and general liability insurance is a necessary evil for lifestyle photography. The insurance expenses are lower than opening a studio but you still need insurance.

Choose Your Destiny

Whether you opt for opening a studio or become an outdoors lifestyle photographer, the realities of owning a pet photography business can be daunting. Don’t let that get to you! At Barkroom, we believe in pursuing dreams not because they are easy but because it’s your passion and it’s worth it. We also believe that if you really want to be successful then you want to educate yourself along the journey to your dream. We are here to help!

Coming up next: In the second chapter of “How to Start a Pet Photography Business”, we will discuss what to sell. In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!

About the Author

Logobluered2small1 How to Start a Pet Photography Business 01: Should You Go Studio or Outside?

Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!

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Unleashed Pet Photography Workshop

Are you ready to start photographing pets?

cchs feb 0307 Unleashed Pet Photography Workshop

Let’s pretend that you are an experienced photographer shooting babies, kids and families.

There are only 100 of us per square mile these days.  How do you set yourself apart from your competition? Start shooting pets, right?  They’re cute, everybody’s got one –how hard can it be?

Think about a few of these scenarios before inviting pets in to your studio:

  • What happens if Max, the black lab, refuses to look at the camera and chooses instead to take off after a squirrel?  Chaos follows.  Now you’re watching your profits go flying out the window as everyone takes off after him, messes up their hair and clothing, scaring the baby who erupts in to tears.
  • A 50ish couple calls and books an appointment for a session with their elderly Schnauzer. After they arrive, they announce that he’s deaf and almost blind – but that’s okay, right? How do you get his attention, where do you seat the three of them and how do you make all three of them look younger, healthier and blissfully happy?
  • Your favorite clients want you to photograph their new baby with their old baby – a 9 year old Golden Retriever. How do you set up the shot?
  • The Smiths show up with their three Jack Russell Terriers and want great portraits but they forgot to tell you they didn’t want to be in them.  Now what?
  • The young couple down the street wants shots of their Australian Shepherd catching his Frisbee in mid-air, in the park, in the middle of the day on a Saturday. Are you ready?

You’re laughing now because you KNOW one of these things is going to happen to you (or already has) and you know you were unprepared.  So back up a few steps.

There are lots of great reasons to photograph pets and it WILL increase your sales and it WILL bring new clients in your door –but be a professional and do it thoughtfully.

Take a workshop, buy a book, get some practice and build a great pet portfolio that will actually BRING in new clients.

Find out what Pet lovers buy and what you have to charge to actually make a profit.

Then update your website and start marketing to pet lovers. There are all sorts of benefits to your existing business –not to mention puppy breath!

Teresa co-teaches the Unleashed Pet Photography Workshops. Here is a sneak peak:

Dallas is the place to be for the next Unleashed workshop to be held June 2-4, 2012. 

We’ve reserved a block of rooms at the fun new hotel, Aloft. They have a great staff and a super room rate and they’re dog friendly! We’ll be starting a private facebook group for those of you interested in sharing hotel rooms and rides to and from DFW airport

We’re planning two full days of shooting,  a half day of business and marketing AND a two hour webinar a week after you return home.  More details as they are finalized but for now — check out the agenda and start making your plans for June 2-4.
ppaunleash 0230 final 150x150 Unleashed Pet Photography WorkshopTERESA BERG is a nationally recognized photographer and animal lover. Her Dallas studio specializes in maternity, baby and pet photography. Her emotional images featuring families and their pets are on display and in publication across the country. Teresa was recently featured in a story by Steve Hartman on CBS Sunday Morning for her work with animal rescue –improving adoption rates with professional photography. Visit her blog for animal rescue at www.FocusOnRescue.com

She is assisted in her studio by Flash (a long-haired dachshund) and Maggie (a Pomeranian) both rescued.  She co-authored a book for professional photographers called DOG SHOTS | Tips and Tricks for Pet Photographers, and sells her portraits, fine art prints and calendars. She co-teaches the Unleashed Photography workshops: www.unleashedworkshops.com and webinars for photographers and non-professionals interested in making better pet portraits.

Why I Let People Steal My Images

I’m not kidding.IMG 5568 682x1024 Why I Let People Steal My Images

I freely let people steal my images. If they can…

I couldn’t find any statistics on the number of images stolen on the internet every year because I think it would be a difficult statistic to discover in the first place.

I did find a statistic on stolen cars (take it or leave it).

According to Yahoo, over 1 million cars are stolen in the United States every year. That a big, heavy car. In order to steal an image, you only need to press SCREEN PRINT or Rt-Click.

Pretty scary stuff.

And don’t even get me started on Pinterest controversies with photographers. This article was written by an attorney that switched to a photographer and “Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards”.

Don’t get me wrong. I take all the precautions with WP-Copyright, watermark all of my images on my blog, and password protect my private client galleries but people can always screen print or download my images on Facebook. And here are 27 FREE screen capture utilities. Yikes!

Even though they may only capture a low-resolution 72 dpi image. They still have it.

What is a photographer to do?

I’m a photographer and I don’t care if people steal my images for this very reason…

I live in a world of abundance.

A world of abundance means that “they are plenty of clients to go around” and “helping others makes the world a better place”.

Some people live in a world of scarcity that says, “don’t share your knowledge with others or they will steal clients, ideas, images, etc” or “everyone is out to get me”. One common behavior of people with this mindset is that they will not upload images or ideas on the internet because they are afraid someone will steal them. They spend hours on the internet searching for their “possible” stolen images or ideas.

They live in a world of scarcity.

I believe in protecting your artwork and ideas because you worked REALLY HARD to create them. I’m on board with this concept.

But instead of wasting my time surfing the web looking for my “possible” stolen images or ideas on websites, personal blogs, and other outlets, I would rather:

You either live in a world of abundance or a world of scarcity, and whichever one you choose affects everything you do. – Chuck Blakeman

Granted, if someone was to steal an image and it was brought to my attention, then I would drop them a friendly e-mail asking them to remove it. Otherwise, I don’t waste my time looking for my artwork on the internet. I would rather live in a world of abundance.

I’m sorry if this offends some people. I would like to get your feedback either way on this topic. It’s important and sharing your thoughts can help a fellow photographer.

What are your thoughts?

 

Stop Making Assumptions

Have you ever thought….42 300x300 Stop Making Assumptions

No one would ever pay $XXX for a photobook!

No one would pay $XXX for a pet photo session!

Are these statements facts or assumptions?

ASSUMPTIONS!

Assuming how much your target market will pay for your pet photography services will only hurt you. In order to market to your target audience, you need to ask them. Go ask your clients if they would pay $XXX for a photobook and see what they say.

Believe me, they will tell you their opinion and they might even give you some tips about how to market your products.

I have one client every year share with me on how to market to him and other potential clients. He is awesome because he shares with me FACTS about my target market!

His tips drive how I market and price my products and it reflects in my sales.

What assumptions do you have about your pet photography business clients?

 

Pet Photographer Behind The Scenes

 

Here is another Barkroom Wishes request come true! You requested in-studio tours or pet photographers in action. How ’bout them apples?

Natasha is not only a good friend but also an incredible photographer. Do you have any questions for her?

 Pet Photographer Behind The ScenesNatasha Japp – Dog Photographer Ninja. Coffee Junkie. Major Mac Geek. Passionate about creating the best memories of your dog! My dog photography is represented worldwide by The Getty Images, First Light and Bark Images, and have been licensed by several companies as: Nestlé Purina, Hallmark, Pedigree, Orbitz, The Rosetta Stone and others in the USA, Japan, Italy and UK. Member of the American Society of Media Photographers and HeartsSpeaks.

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