How To Avoid The Top 6 Mistakes In The Professional Photography Business

For a fun experiment, I asked my followers on Twitter to respond to the query: “What are the top business mistakes made by novice photographers?” In just a few minutes, I received a variety of great responses, and I decided they could make for an excellent piece.

It’s an accomplishment to be a professional photographer but quite different from being the proprietor of a profitable photography business. In actuality, I’ve watched plenty of technically skilled photographers struggle through tough times, and watch other photographers who appear less competent go about their business as if they were.

The significant difference between the two cases lies in the photographer’s awareness of the significance of knowledge in business.

You’re a Photography Business Owner, Not a Photographer

As I’ve stated on a number of occasions before I’ve said it before, it’s not necessarily the photographer with the highest talent that wins, but rather the most effective businessman or marketer photographer.

What are the most frequent mistakes, at the very least, in my Twitter followers’ eyes?

Here are the following, not in any particular order:

#1: Undercharging for Their Time and Talent

This is a significant mistake that newbies often commit, primarily due to the fact that they joined the business as serious amateurs and have realized the potential to earn money doing what they love to do. There’s nothing wrong with amateurs becoming professional, far from it.

The problem is that a lot of them don’t understand that when they start charging for their services, they’ve gone from professional to amateur. The shift in perspective also demands a change in their thinking, particularly when it comes to the worth that their work has.

If photographers were to slow down at this point, look at the situation and comprehend the ramifications that being professional brings, I would think that the profession would face many fewer issues.

All you need is a change in viewpoint – from an amateur photographer to a professional studio owner.

As a business owner, one of your first responsibilities is to be aware of how much it costs to keep the business running and to know what it will cost just to grab the camera to take a picture for an assignment.

In light of these aspects and a fair appraisal of the photographer’s time in addition to the actual price of the product made available, the photographer can estimate healthy prices that appropriately consider their time and work.

#2: Mistakes with Paid Ads

I made the exact similar mistake the first time I began in business, to my dismay (and an unfulfilled bank account)! The ad that was at issue consisted of called the “Yellow Pages” I’m pretty sure I watched nearly $3,600 disappear due to this. When I was at the time, I didn’t understand anything about it and believed I had to be listed in the Yellow Pages just because that’s the way to go. There were plenty of other photographers, which is why it seemed like the right decision, right?


Other mistakes I’ve made in paid ads included specific online directories as well as paid listings. None of them offered any leads, let alone customers.

If you’re a newly-discovered photographer and are considering paying for advertising, it’s essential to think about the target consumers of the ads and how effective its reach is, as well as the experiences of photographers who have taken part in it, etc. if you’re unsure not to do it!

3: Set Prices without Knowing Their COGS

This was discussed in the first paragraph of the previous article, but it’s worth noting once more here. Understanding your COGS (cost of goods sold) is vital for establishing the price list needed to keep a business running. COGS covers all essential costs for selling. However, it does not include fixed costs like internet, phone rent, etc.

One thing that most photographers leave out in their COGS is time and time, which is a significant error. Your time is the second most important asset (your attitude being the top), and you should make it clear that you are charging for it, even if it’s an hourly fee.

After determining the COGS for the service you’re interested in, It is a good idea to mark it at least three times before determining the final retail price.

At this point, when photographers are nervous and then fall into an endless cycle of tweaking their price lists, particularly if they’re struggling to sell.

#4 Don’t Follow A Business Plan

At first, new photographers aren’t likely to take the time to develop an enterprise plan and then implement to implement the plan.

Do you have a written business plan? A formal written plan that gives an outline of your business outlines your goals and serves as a plan for the success of your business?

I’m willing to bet that the majority of photographers do not have this kind of document. Most of the time, it’s because they aren’t happy with working in the field and don’t know how to write one, aren’t busy, or don’t have clear ideas regarding their objectives.

No matter what you’re looking for, as long as your company was an aircraft that was flying, it wouldn’t have the best chances of making it to your destination with no flight schedule or flight plan, would it?

A business plan doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s designed for you to ensure you’re on the right track and isn’t required to be prepared like a large company.

The more straightforward you are, the more you can be sure that you’ll follow it!

5. Working For Free

This is an exciting topic and covers a topic I often see in the various photography online groups: the idea of taking photos at no cost (or nearly free) with the intention of increasing exposure.

It’s impossible to be in the photography industry for very long without somebody wanting to shoot something (often an event of some sort) at a very affordable price, based on the belief that it will provide you with great exposure or, possibly more significant, better-paying work in the future.

This is a disservice to the photographer and can cause a great deal of damage to the industry. The promise of “exposure” more frequently than not is insufficient, and the subsequent work is usually not compensated at the very least.

Be aware of the ideas in the first and third paragraphs when deciding whether to apply for the kind of job you want to do, and you won’t be too far.

My advice for new photographers is to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that because you’re new or not familiar with the industry, you aren’t entitled to the price you and your photography are worth.

#6: Thinking It’s Simple

I’m sure that the majority of photographers in the present will admit that they believed that it would be simpler to do than it actually turned out to be! For me, too!

It’s true that managing a professional photography studio isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to run a business regardless of what it is. There isn’t a single “get rich quick” plan for photographers’ businesses!

Maybe the “easy” concept comes more from the photography aspect of things. It’s true that photography can be a lot of fun, and we’re technically proficient at it. After all, that’s our job to do, isn’t it?

The reality is that clicking the shutter takes only 20 percent of our efforts in business which is a considerable amount! The rest of the time is occupied by selling, marketing, accounting, social media and planning, study and marketing (so attractive that it’s worth noting twice !)… etc.

These are likely the ones we started taking pictures to avoid but if we try to escape from them isn’t possible! These are all vital and crucial to our performance, so we might also want to become accustomed to them.

What’s your #7 Most Common Error?

Thank you to all the Twitter users who have contributed to this research. I’m going to attempt the experiment once more.

It’s just six of the mistakes that many of us make, and I’m sure that there are many more!

What other mistakes would you add to this list? What is your number 7 mistake that you would advise novice professional photographers?

About The Author

Nigel Merrick is a professional photographer, blogger, and coach for photographers who are working with a specialization in marketing photography. He assists professional photographers in getting their businesses on track as well as love from their clients and joy in their private lives by making clear their focus on marketing and business.