6 steps to protect your photography business long-term: The Build A Photography Business Show

In Build A Photography Business Show, Real estate photography - business management by Build A Photography Business

As a real estate photographer or architectural photographer, what can you do to protect your business?

There are a lot of risks you face, so in this episode of The Build A Photography Business Show I'd like to outline six things you can do that will help you to succeed over the long-term.

As a real estate photographer or architectural photographer, what can you do to protect your business?

There are a lot of risks you face, so in this episode of The Build A Photography Business Show I'd like to outline six things you can do that will help you to succeed over the long-term.

In this episode I take a look at what you can do as an architectural or real estate photographer to protect your business over the long-term.

I see a lot of photography businesses that close down, and I’m assuming that’s something you want to avoid so let’s go through these six things that will help you stay strong:

1. Get a business coach as soon as you can.

Number 1 is get a business coach as soon as you can, and don’t wait until your business is struggling.

If you read anything from successful business people they’ll all talk about the great things that happen when you have a great business coach or a mentor or someone you can talk to about your business, and that’s because it works. It’s just a really smart thing to do.

What I find a bit weird I guess is that a lot of photographers love the idea of having a coach, but they say they don’t need one while their business is going okay. The problem with that is, like, imagine you are going out on a boat for a 3 hour tour. Now, do you bring the life jacket and the emergency beacon with you when you leave for your boat trip, or do you leave them at home and figure that you can always get back to shore in time if things get rough?

Of course, life jackets aren’t designed to be left at home. You want that life jacket with you all the time, even if it's a calm day with the sun shining down and everything is going great, because things can go from good to bad pretty quickly.

In the same way, you don’t wait until your business is sinking to bring in a business coach, because it might be too late by then – you want them there even when things are going well because they’ll help you prepare for any rough conditions that lie ahead.

To give you an example of what a coach can do, I had a case recently with a photographer who couldn't get the payment out of a difficult client, and it was really stressing them out. Anyway, we spent almost 2 days going back and forth on what they could do, I guided them through the process and we ended up with the client paying the photographer so it was a great result in the end.

I had another photographer recently who needed help putting together a quote for a large commercial shoot, so I helped him put a response together for this client, and I think it gave the photographer a lot of confidence just to have someone to bounce those ideas around with, instead of trying to do it all on their own.

One final example - I had another photographer a few weeks back who asked for some feedback on their price list, and I was able to give them some ideas for how they could improve what they've got, and again we spent time going back and forth through different options and I know they found that really helpful as well.

So that’s just a few examples, and what’s great is that those three photographers are also making big improvements in their business and are really growing things, and I don’t think they would be doing as well as they are if they didn't have a business coach who could help them through those times when they get stuck.

Now there are a lot of business coaches and mentors out there, so you don’t have to work with me – I’m totally okay with that – but I just want you to find someone you can work with, and do it now - don't wait until your business is struggling.

But if you do want to find out what I do then go to BuildAPhotographyBusiness.com and that'll tell you all about my coaching program for real estate photographers, what's included and what it costs.

2. Diversify your client base.

Okay, number 2 on this list is, diversify your client base so you work with different industries, and diversify your services. Now this is simple to understand, but the issue for a lot of photographers is putting it into action. So I want to make sure that you start doing this instead of just talking about it, and that's because you're putting your business at increased risk of collapse if you only work with one industry, or if you only offer one service. For example, if you do real estate photography but then the real estate industry comes to a halt for whatever reason, then you’ve got no work coming in.

Or if you only offer still photography, and then a pandemic hits and agents want 360 tours for all of their properties, then they’re going to leave you and hire a photographer that can offer the services they need right now.

So look, it’s really important then that you add extra strength to your business by working across multiple industries, and where possible offer services beyond still photography.

3. Get good legal advice.

This is another one of those things that a lot of photographers avoid, but it’s really important that you structure your business in a protective way and also take steps to protect your key assets - your self, your family, your home and your images and intellectual property.

Under certain business structures you leave yourself very vulnerable to being sued by a disgruntled client, or an employee or a homeowner, but if you structure your business differently then they can still try and sue your company, but they won’t be able to touch your personal assets.

The other area where you want excellent legal advice is in regard to your images. You want to make sure your contracts are watertight so that you can pursue businesses that use your images illegally, and so that you can get payment from a client that refuses to pay, and for both of those situations you’ll want to speak with a legal expert who can guide you through that based on the laws where you are.

4. Structure your business for the next owner.

One of the biggest pay days you'll ever have will be the day you sell your business. That may not be something you’ll want to do for many years yet, but there will come a time where you’ll want to hang up the tools and move into retirement or move to another career or something.

If you’ve setup your business the right way, then your photography business can have a very real and tangible value to another buyer, and they can be willing to pay a lot of money to buy a well-established photography business.

So rather than just thinking about how you want to do things, you’ll want to set it up so that it becomes a smart business purchase for another individual, and if you do that then it will also become a much stronger business for you to run because you’ll introduce systems that will help it to survive those difficult seasons.

5. Take steps to avoid self-burnout.

Number five on my list is an important one - take steps to avoid self-burnout by delegating tasks and building rest into your monthly schedule.

So you might have a fantastic business and you’re getting a lot of work, but if you burnout then you may not be able to function for weeks or months, and that’s not good for business.

So a big part of structuring your business for long-term success is to delegate tasks so you don’t have to do everything yourself. Now you might start off by outsourcing certain activities like photo editing or your accounts management, but then you might take that further and have other photographers or other service providers on your team. When the whole business is not relying on you for everything then you can do much better at balancing time in the business, with time away from the business so you can chill with your family or with friends.

Honestly, you're not weak just because you take a few days off – that’s a sign of a smart business owner who is playing the long game and it should be celebrated. By taking time away you can then come back and operate at 100% instead of being exhausted and less productive with your time. Does that make sense?

6. Actively promote your business.

My final tip for long-term success is to actively promote your business, and don't sit around and wait for things to happen.

What this means is that you’ll want to make marketing and sales an active and consistent part of your week. You don’t want it to be something that you squeeze in only when things slow down to a trickle – marketing is the oxygen for your business, and if you turn it off then you might not be able to hold out for too long.

So if you want to do this right then firstly, give yourself time to do that marketing, and that might have some implications for your pricing and other areas of your business, and secondly, either learn how to be a marketer or, get someone to help you.

I know a lot of photographers really struggle with marketing, so one of the things I do in my coaching program is I create marketing resources for the photographers I work with and that's a real time saver for them, but if you want to go and do it yourself just make sure you give yourself enough time to learn about marketing and also give yourself time to implement it in your business.

Don’t assume that marketing is something you can just do a couple of times a year.

If you really want a strong business then it should be something you do, in some way, right through the year, week in, week out. Seriously, just immerse yourself in learning the foundations of marketing and then DO the marketing and your business will thank you for it.


So to wrap it up, the six things I think you need to do for long-term success are:

1. Get a business coach and don’t wait until your business is struggling.

2. Diversify your client base.

3. Get good legal advice.

4. Setup your business for the next owner.

5. Take steps to avoid burnout.

6. Actively promote your business, and don't just wait for things to happen.

Now if you have any questions about that, as always, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help, or if you want to try my 1-to-1 coaching then you can drop me a message about that as well.