You aren’t just a photographer, you’re a small business owner. You’re the boss; the big cheese, the head honcho. And that is exciting, and affirming… and scary as heck.

Because being a business owner comes with a lot of responsibility, especially if you’re a photographer. Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that photographers are making – but don’t worry, I’ve got some solutions to help you!

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Not Legally Setup for Success

Running a photography business comes with lots of questions like,

  • What’s the important stuff to put in contracts?
  • Who is allowed to use my photos? And how do I find out who is doing so without my permission?
  • What happens when someone steals my photos?
  • Do I need to copyright my photos even if I’m just starting out?

The good news is that taking care of the legal stuff does not have to be hard, expensive or incredibly time consuming. For example, you can protect yourself and your business from a whole host of legal issues simply by having a solid contract with every client. Which leads me to the number one legal mistake I see photographers making: not having a contract.

Having a rock-solid client service agreement with every single client saves future-you tons of time and headaches. (I love The Contract Shop for this! #afflink)

A well-drafted client service agreement memorializes the basic terms of your relationship with your client. It also provides next steps in the event something unexpected happens. It can prevent disagreements and confusion with your customers, which in turn can prevent any need for litigation.

Here are a few things to make sure you cover in your agreement so that you can avoid tons of heart-and-wallet-ache later:

  • What happens when a client fails to show up at their appointment?
  • How many calls/emails/meetings with you can the client expect?
  • When and how will the photos be delivered?
  • When and how will the client pay you?
  • What happens if payment is late?
  • Will you provide hair and makeup?
  • What rights to the photos is the client purchasing?
  • What are the terms of the client’s license to use the photos?

Staying Behind the Camera

Even though your website shouldn’t be all about you, you, you, people do want to know and see you. I’ve heard so many photographers who, ironically, don’t like being in front of the camera and don’t have any/many photos of themselves. But, you have to fight this fear.

Oh man, I used to HATE BEING ON CAMERA. Not just photos, but videos, too. So, I did what any rational person would do… decide to start a YouTube channel?! I wanted to face that fear head-on, because I knew it had potential to help my business.

People want to work with people, not just a business. Include photos of YOURSELF on your website. Show up on Facebook live and Instagram live. Use Instagram stories. Don’t just post photos of yourself on Instagram, do a #FridayIntroductions post once in awhile.

With so many photographers out there, it can feel difficult to stand out among your competition. But, when people get to see you, know your personality and your quirks, they connect with you on a deeper level. You stand out in their mind when they see an episode of a certain show because you talk about it all the time.

When I started showing more of my face on Instagram, and showing up consistently on video – it transformed my business! (Not saying I love public speaking by any means, it’s still easier to talk to a camera than a live audience…)

Websites Without Strategy

Your website is home base. It’s how people find you, connect with you, see your work, and (hopefully) hire you. But, just like you can’t slap together a cardboard box and call it a house, you can’t slap together a website and hope it’s designed well and strategically.

Many photographers think their work just speaks for itself. Don’t get me wrong – your work is great! But, you need to guide your potential clients through your website. You need to tell them why your services matter. You need to sell your services – and let them know why you’re the one for the job!

A strategic website sets you up for success, and saves you time from having to chase clients.

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