2020 has been an awful year. Everything has been pretty much awful. So it is time to look to the future and to a better 2021. This will not just fall magically into our laps – we all have to go out there and make this happen!
In this post I am going to give you 35 excellent photography business ideas for growth in 2021. These are things that I have been doing that I will be working on more in 2021 to help my business grow. To be a successful photographer in 2021 you need to do more than just take photos – you need a variety of strings to your (metaphorical) bow. And you need to be you – there is no other you (well I hope not in my case) so get you out there into the world and shout out to everyone – I’m me – Here I am!!!
These are not all strictly business ideas, but they will all contribute to the overall success of my business in 2021. And yours too hopefully.
So let’s take up our (methaporical) bows and apply these 35 (metaphorical) arrows to what is going to be a great 2021. And if it isn’t at least we can all say we tried!
But I will keep saying this – you are you and there is no one else like you so if you are looking for your USP (unique selling proposition) then look in the mirror.
OK – here we go. As you will see I am fired up to make 2021 great for me and I want the same for you too.
1 – Niche down
What do you want to be known as? I want to be known as the guy who photographs buildings and construction sites. That is what I make my living doing.
So what one thing can you do to help people with your photography? You can’t photograph everything, so pick a niche and make it yours.
I do not expect to get enquiries to photograph weddings – I make it very clear what I do. I photograph buildings.
So find your thing and go with it.
2 – Take less advice from less people
Find a small number of people whose advice resonates with you, who you trust, and go with them. I am not saying me here, although if you do choose me that would be very nice thank you.
I have spent too long taking the advice of too many people to the point where I didn’t act on anyone’s advice as there was so much to consider.
This is the same as niching down – this will help you focus and achieve more.
I listen to the following people
- Scott Kelby – Kelby One, The Grid Podcast
- Ben Hartley – The Six Figure Photography Podcast
- Pat Flynn (SPI, Ask Pat 2.0)
- John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneurs on Fire
- Jim Harmer – Income School
- Martin Bailey – Martin Bailey Photography Podcast
- Brandon Gaille – The Blogging Millionaire
- John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneurs On Fire
- Amy Porterfield – Online Marketing
- Seth Godin – Akimbo
- Colin Gray – Podcraft
- Joe Wicks – The Joe Wicks Podcast
- Tailenders – Greg, Felix and Jimmy
There are others but these are my main sources of inspiration for photography, business and life. And yes these are mainly business these days and much less about photography.
3 – Act on what you have learnt
Following on from the previous point, I used to listen to so many people I did not have the time or head space to act on their advice.
So I cut down the amount of people I listened to and acted on the more focussed advice I was hearing.
There is no point learning stuff if you do not act on it – I should know I have been doing this for years.
But no more.
4 – Less is more
I try applying this rule to everything. This is an output of what I have said so far that I try to apply to everything that I do to save me time. I have spent so long doing things that I did not need to do, adding things and making things more complicated.
Now it is time to do less of the stuff that does not move me forward giving much more time for the stuff that does.
5 – Simplify
This might just be a word, but take this word and apply it to anything that you do, and you might be surprised at the results.
Pat Flynn said a thing that I loved – “if it was easy what would it look like?”
That is great advice that I have taken to heart.
I have managed over the years to over complicate things to the point where I was going backwards. Now as I have less things and they are easier to do I am getting much more done.
6 – Get out and take photos more
I so need to do this more in 2021. I seem to have spent 2020 writing, working on my website, and doing other stuff like creating my Photography Explained Podcast.
Apart from client work I haven’t taken many photos.
Here is me when I did get out.
Sure 2020 has been a weird year but I need to get out and take more photos and follow my own advice.
I have written many other blog posts where I talk/ write about this.
And the one thing that I can guarantee you is this – if you do not go out and take photos you will not create great new stuff.
So I am going to set myself a challenge – every month on 2021 I will take myself out and take some photos just for me, which will make me happy and push my creativity,
The thought of this makes me excited, even after all these years practising photography.
So join and let’s create some great new photos – taking new photos is (as I say far too often) the number one way for us all to improve our photography.
And that includes me.
7 – Take less photos
What? Take less photos? But you just said get out and take more photos?
What I mean here is get out more taking photos but take less photos when you are out there.
Let me explain.
I used to go out and take hundreds of photos and get back with lots of rubbish. These days I go out with the intention of creating one new totally excellent photo.
Sure I will take more than one photo, but I spend more time looking and thinking than I do taking photos.
And the result is that I take less photos and the photos that I take are of a higher quality.
And with my architectural and construction photography I apply similar principles. I have a shot list of photos that I have to get, but if I can get each and every one of these with one shot I am incredibly happy.
I spend more time working on my composition to get the shots I need, and less time sorting through photos in Lightroom afterwards.
9 – Work on composition
I have talked about this a lot recently on my new podcast, Photography Explained. Check out the episodes where I talk about
This follows on nicely from the previous point.
Composition is king – remember that. The more time I spend working on my compositions the better the photos are that I take, and the less the number of rejects.
After all, what you take a photo of is all that other people will see – if the composition is rubbish you have (quite literally) nothing.
10 – Learn how to use your gear properly
I did not do this for years, but now I do. I learn how to use each and every bit of gear to it’s maximum, and also make sure that I know how different bits of gear work together.
11 – Use your gear
Use what you have. And if there is stuff that you do not need, or stuff that is not helping, even getting in the way put it to one side and apply my one year rule.
What is my one year rule?
If I don’t use something after a year I sell it. Yes I have done this and have generated some cash and have less gear to store, look after, maintain and sort through to get to what I really need.
And some of that gear I sold I had never used – such a waste of money and time.
12 – Stop looking at gear
I used to spend too much time looking at gear, and buying it. And then never using it. I thought that I needed moe gear to get great photos, and as it turns out I needed much less gear.
So I only buy gear, or indeed look for gear when I have a specific need.
To prove the point I have a £100 Amazon voucher which I am struggling to spend – this is how careful I am now even when faced with guilt free gear shopping!!
13 – Get a website
Yes get a website. People expect them of photographers. I had a Squarespace website for a few years which was really good and got me started as I did not have a clue what to do.
Now I use WordPress as I have learnt enough to be able to do this.
The sooner you get a website the sooner you can start to build an online presence and carve out your own piece of the internet and hopefully your own individual photography business.
Start simple and build from there. But start now.
14 – Start a blog
Why start a blog? Simple. Google loves fresh content, and if you can produce one high quality piece of new content a week it will help you with your search results, meaning more people will find you and more people will potentially do business with you.
And you can start to build your you brand at the same time. And learn stuff too.
I can take time for Google to find stuff so as with a website the sooner you start the sooner you will see the benefits.
15 – Start an email list
This is one thing that I am working on right now – building an email list which will be an asset that I own which gives me direct contact to people I have come across online, which is a powerful tool when you have things that you want people to see and also want people to spend money on.
Having an email list will prove to be an invaluable asset going forwards, so check back to my blog to see how I am getting on.
I am using the free plan ConvertKit offer – they have managed to help me create things that I never would have worked out on my own, including things called landing pages.
16 – Try You Tube
What? I hate filming myself!
Just try it – it is easy to do and all you need is your phone and a simple device to hold it so you can talk into the camera.
You can repurpose the content in your blog and talk about what you have written on You Tube so you are making the best of the research that you have done for your blog.
Don’t aim for perfection, aim for weekly output onto You Tube and you never know what might happen.
Start now and learn as you go – and be yourself!
17 – Start a podcast
I have just done this. Podcasting is not as hard as it might sound – check out these blog posts where I tell you how I did it.
And also the home for my podcast, Why Should You Try My Excellent Photography Explained Podcast?
I love podcasting and it is a great way of getting an audience to know you and love you (hopefully).
You can do this with your phone, although I did invest (less than £100) on a Samson Q2U microphone (this is an Amazon Affiliate Link) and stand which works just great.
And there are free platforms where you can have your podcast hosted.
The only regret I have with my podcast is that I did not start it much much sooner, and it has given me a new lease of life with my online content creation.
You will have gathered by now that I am placing a lot of emphasis on online content, which I believe is vital for my future business growth.
18 – Try Pinterest
Now I am not a fan of social media, but Pinterest is a platform worth trying. Again you can repurpose blog content onto Pinterest.
The thing about Pinterest is that posts remain searchable for much longer than other social media platforms.
If you don’t like it that is just fine, but give it a go – it will only cost you the time you invest in it.
19 – Try LinkedIn
LinkedIn was bought by Microsoft a few years ago for a lot of money, so should be taken seriously. LinkedIn is more business related than other platforms, so worth a try.
Again it is free, and the only cost is the time you invest.
I am looking to build a large list of connections and followers who are all photography, architectural and construction related, one group at a time.
20 – Get a critique of your photos
This worked a treat for me when I applied to become member of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP). It was the first time that someone told me that some of my photos were not worthy of inclusion in a portfolio submission.
I thought that all my photos were great – no one had ever told me otherwise.
Get a critique and take the comments positively as this will kick start an improvement in your photography like few other things.
21 – Spend less time editing
I used to spend forever refining photos, tweaking this and that. These days I have a workflow that has been refined over many years to a simple one that I repeat shoot after shoot.
I know what I am doing, and I know when I am done.
That extra bit of time I spent when I should have been done was a complete waste of time and was actually to the detriment of the images – my work was becoming over processed.
Not anymore, so I spend less time in Lightroom and produce much better photos.
22 – Learn Lightroom
All my photos are in a single Lightroom catalogue. I edit all my photos in Lightroom, going into Photoshop only when I need to remove stuff.
I have been using Lightroom since it was released in 2007, and have used every version up to the current and wonderful Lightroom Classic.
Lightroom has evolved over the years into the most wonderful, powerful, and logical photo editing software out there in my opinion.
And Photoshop gets bigger and more complicated and confusing to me.
So my advice – learn Lightroom. If you want to learn Photoshop fine but I did not and do not regret this.
23 – Change the sky
And get Luminar if you can afford it. I use Luminar to change the skies on architectural and construction photography images taken on cloudy days.
And this is fine photographically. My clients love it.
I used to spend quite literally hours doing this in Photoshop, but now do this in minutes using the wonderfully powerful Luminar.
And there is lots of other good stuff in Luminar that I have not had chance to play with yet.
24 – Study great photographers
Something I need to do more is learn from the greats. I have failed to do this for years and years and I do not know why.
I think it is because my interest in stuff is rather limited – I just want to do what I need to do and move on. I have not taken the time to learn from the greats what makes great photos and also great photographers.
Maybe that is one reason why I am not great myself??
25 – Don’t obsess about numbers
I was dreadful for this, checking my Analytics constantly. I had to remove the Google Analytics App from my phone, leaving it on my iPad which is much less accessible.
And my rankings did not suffer for this neglect ha ha. No it became a destructive, time wasting attention grabbing distraction.
The other point to this is that the success of a website is not judged solely on numbers of visitors, although this does relate directly to income.
No there is something more – engagement, interest, returning visitors.
Do you want 100,000 people who visit your website and never come back, or do you want 1,000 people who come back week after week to read your latest post?
OK – I want 100,000 visitors to come back week after week, but you get the point.
26 – Do something new
I created a podcast, Photography Explained. I love doing this and it has opened up so many new things for me. My only regret was not doing this years ago.
Find something you want to do but have never got round to doing that will benefit your business – just do it and see what happens.
But just do it.
27 – Take photos in your area
And I am not talking the headline iconic things, which for me include Durdle Door. I got some great photos in my local woods one time, and do you know what?
Everyone has seen photos of Durdle Door but nowhere near as many people have seen photos of my local woods!!
So get out there and find something interesting to photograph – there is always something of interest if you look hard enough.
28 – Simplify things – KISS
KISS – keep it simple stupid. Something I tell myself everyday. Or as Pat Flynn said, “if it was simple what would it look like?”
I have been guilty of over complicating and over thinking things in the past, and now that I know that I am virtually obsessed with keeping things as simple as I can.
Hence my podcast strap line – Photography Explained – photographic things explained in less than 10 minutes without the irrelevant detail.
29 – The 80/20 rule
This is good stuff trust me.
Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born in Italy in 1848. So the story goes he noticed that 20% of his pea plants produced 80% of the healthy pea pods.
I know. Bear with.
Transpose this to life (making a long story very very short).
80% of results come from 20% of work, effort, or action.
There is lots more to this which I suggest you find out for yourself – just search Pareto Principle.
But find the things that work and work on them – do the things that have the biggest impact and ditch the stuff that does not.
30 – Use your personality
Now let’s get onto you. And me for that. What is unique about you, me, well everyone? Who and what we are is unique.
You are unique – there is only one you (which in my case is for sure a good thing for the rest of the planet!)
So the point is use your uniqueness in everything you do. Don’t follow other people, make your own way as you.
I am planning on being much bolder and more visibly me in 2021.
31 – Project your personal brand
To back up what I have just written, make you the centre of everything, starting with your personal brand. I will say it again – there is only one you so tell everyone else, and build a brand all about just you.
You are not a commodity, you are a brand. Tell everyone and build personal connections that will help grow your business.
32 – Phone people
Yes I know – radical. Phone people and speak to them and see what happens. I am going to try this in the New Year and see where this gets me.
We can lose all personality in endless emails – I get so many emails I find that I miss stuff which is not good.
So when someone gets I touch with an enquiry wherever possible I will phone them and speak to them rather than just replying via email.
33 – Clear your inbox
The last point reminded me of this. Your email inbox is best used as just that – an inbox and not a working folder. Get rid of rubbish, deal with stuff that can be dealt with immediately and file it away and anything that needs more time put in an action folder.
I try to keep on top of this but routinely fail but this is something that I am going to try to do on a daily basis.
An empty email inbox is a thing of joy to achieve. No seriously it is.
And I have unsubscribed from loads of emails that I never read.
Get op top of your emails and you will not miss that important business email that could have been lost in the clutter.
34 – Be the go to person for…
Your thing. I photograph buildings. That is what I do. Be the go to person for the thing you want to be known for. My website shows architectural and construction photos only. I do include other photos in blog posts where relevant, but I try to make it crystal clear what I do.
And when I get approached to photograph weddings I politely decline (although between us this is a great relief as the thought absolutely terrifies me).
35 – Just go for it
I have spent too long playing safe. In 2021 I am going all in to project me, my brand and how I can help people.
I am going to be more upbeat, positive and outgoing in everything that I publish or create.
I have everything in place to build on now, so I need to stop faffing around and go for it.
That’s all folks
Thanks for reading, and here’s to successful 2021 for all of us.
#rickmcevoy #rickmcevoyphotography #photographybusinessideas #2021