In today's competitive photography landscape, it's crucial to strike the perfect balance between creativity and business savvy. As photographers, we're driven by our passion for creating stunning images, but it's also essential to manage the business side of things effectively if making a living from your artistic talent is ultimately what you want to do. There are plenty of “starving artists” out there unfortunately, but by finding the right balance of feeding your creative desires and running a viable business, you can achieve the ultimate dream of getting paid well to do what you love.
In this blog post, we'll explore some practical tips to help modern photographers maintain a harmonious balance between their artistic pursuits and the demands of running a successful photography business.
1. Set Clear Goals and Priorities That Make Sense for You, Your Clients and Your Business
To strike the right balance, it's important to establish clear goals and priorities for your photography business. Determine what you want to achieve both creatively and financially, and create a roadmap to guide your decisions. By having a clear vision of your objectives, you'll be better equipped to allocate your time and resources effectively.
Very often, as photographers, we get caught in the belief that if we become better photographers, that will automatically translate into getting more clients or having a better business. It’s the old adage of “if we build it, they will come” but in reality this just doesn't happen.
You do not have to be the best photographer in the world to have a great business. In fact, you don’t ever have to win an award, or a print competition to have a successful business. This is where you need to separate your creativity from your business.
Working on creative projects, entering print competitions and vying for photography awards are all for YOU. However, when it comes to good business, it’s all about your CLIENT. Your client has to come first. Most clients could care less about whether you’ve won awards or not. They only care about themselves!
So how can you set goals and priorities that will:
a) Give you the creative outlet you need for yourself
b) Drive your business forward by giving your clients a transformational experience they will never forget
When you can find the balance between the two, you will fulfil your creative passion, while providing you and your family with the income you desire and deserve by giving your clients what they truly want.
2. Create a schedule and maintain a routine
A well-organised schedule can help you balance your time between creative projects and business tasks. Establish a routine that allows you to focus on photography and editing, while also setting aside dedicated time for marketing, client communication, and administrative tasks. By sticking to a consistent routine, you'll create a more sustainable workflow that accommodates both your artistic and business needs.
It’s important that you don’t caught up in doing the “fun stuff”! Allocate time for the tasks that will drive your business towards your goal and if you really can’t stand doing certain tasks, see tip number 3 below.
3. Learn to delegate and outsource tasks
As your photography business grows, you may find it increasingly challenging to manage everything on your own. Delegate tasks to team members or outsource certain responsibilities, such as accounting or social media management, to skilled professionals. This will free up more time for you to focus on your creative endeavours while ensuring that the business side of things is well taken care of.
Sometimes, it can be hard to let go of certain things (I don't know how many times I've heard photographers say that they could NEVER let anyone else edit their work), but always remember that time is money so it’s about prioritising how your time is spent to maximise the end result.
4. Invest in continued education and skill development
To stay ahead in the any business, not just one within the photography industry, it's important to continually develop your skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and ideas. And I’m not just talking about photographic skills and techniques. In fact, more often than not, photographers need to spend more time improving their business and marketing skills.
Like all creatives, these are the ones we find most challenging and yet they are critical to having a successful business. Even if you do enjoy various aspects of business and marketing, it’s important to remember that we don’t know what we don’t know!
With that in mind, it’s important to stay on top of your education by attending workshops, taking online courses, reading books, listening to podcasts, hiring a mentor, and networking with other professional photographers to gain new insights and perspectives. This not only fuels your creativity but also enhances your marketability and value to clients.
5. Set boundaries between work and personal life
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to staying inspired and avoiding burnout. Set boundaries between your professional and personal life, such as designated work hours and times when you're off-limits to clients. Make sure to prioritise self-care and take regular breaks to recharge your creative energy.
6. Embrace both the art and business of photography
Remember that your photography business is a blend of art and commerce. Embrace the fact that you are both an artist and an entrepreneur, and seek ways to merge the two in a way that feels authentic and fulfilling both on a personal and financial level.
Balancing creativity and business in the world of photography is a delicate dance, but with the right approach, you can achieve a harmonious equilibrium.
By setting clear goals, maintaining a well-organised routine, delegating tasks, investing in continued education, setting boundaries, and embracing the dual nature of your profession, you'll be well on your way to building a successful and creatively fulfilling photography business.