Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Top Ten Question.

People ask me for photography advice often.  Because of this blog, and because once someone has taken one of my classes I have an open door policy welcoming them to ask for help on their journey, I answer photography-related questions a lot.  Usually it's about cameras, photography skills, photoshop, reviewing images- and sometimes people ask me for help in starting a business.  (Those questions are welcome, by the way.  I love answering them.)

My friend Rachel writes rocking tutorials that have made thousands of hobbyist photogs better all over the place.  This week she's starting a series on how to (and how not to) start a business.  Her first installment is honest and excellent. 

If you love photography, having a business is probably not for you, no matter how many people in your life tell you to start one- but figuring out if it's for you is very important- because if it's right, it's very rewarding.  But- it is a business, not a hobby. You have to be comfortable with that- being a business person with integrity and running your business responsibly isn't the same as enjoying the thrill of shooting for the art and skill of it.  You may love  mothering your children, but would you love to be a nanny or run a daycare?  Yiiiiiikes.  And yet, that comparison is spot-on.  A business is different.  You have to be prepared and comfortable with that.  You have to be ready to be vulnerable, and put yourself out there- and also to be strong and confident in a world of competition, that's full of potential clients that (just like you) are looking for products for as little expense possible (with prices from poor-quality discount chains in their minds), without a real concept of the time and investment it takes to create great custom work.  Are you prepared to field those situations?  You don't have to know everything right away, but be prepared to learn from experience, and be ready for these types of issues.

Frankly, I'm organized.  I found the business side of my business to be work, but manageable.  And I'm good at setting boundaries.  And I'm very good at saying no.  I loved everything about having a portraiture business, other than the busy-ness of it.  That was the thing I enjoyed the least-  I had the freedom to say no to any clients I couldn't take, which I had to do so often it drove me crazy.  It sounds perfect to have the freedom to turn away any more work than you can handle, but, for me, it was counter-intuitive to running a business, and drove me nuts.  And now that I've simplified, I can enjoy teaching photography, and let portraiture go (which still stings a little- but thanks for all the support, everyone- I really was encouraged last week as I "went live" with my decision).

So- do you think you want to start a business- in anything?  Link over to i ♥ faces and read the series- I'm sure it will help you figure out if it's for you.

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