I wrote a blog post in the first week of January titled “How to make money from photography – my 2019 business plan”. This is the update on that post.
Things have moved on, and in this post I give you 11 practical photography business ideas for 2020 and beyond. Things that I am going to do that you can do as well. These address the fundamental need for a successful photography business to have a range of products and services - taking photos is just not enough in my opinion. And these have to be things which can be done by me as there is no-one else!
Read on to find out how I am growing my photography business and creating a range of products and services.
Who am I?
I am Rick McEvoy, a professionally qualified photographer and also Chartered Construction Manager. I also like travel. I photograph buildings, nice places and buildings in nice places.
And I write lots of stuff about photography and travel on this and my other websites, Paxos Travel Guide and Photos of Santorini.
What was my plan at the start of 2019?
At the start of 2019 I set out my business plan for the year. These are the key points.
1 – Taking photos for clients
My core business, and one that I had been distracted from with other things. Now I am producing consistently high-quality information and attracting higher level clients. All good.
And I have changed my pricing (upwards) to get the clients that I want.
I have regular targeted posts on my blog which have been very successful.
2 – Photos of Santorini website
Since January 2019 all I have done to this website is make it super-fast. It is something that I need to come back to once the next item is completed.
3 – Paxos Travel Guide website
At the time of writing this is nearly complete. It has taken a long time, but only because I have very limited time available to work on this website.
The web traffic growth has been remarkable though, especially recently.
And I have enjoyed this a lot.
4 – Rhodes Travel Guide website
I have deferred this – I want to properly complete Paxos Travel Guide and Photos of Santorini first.
5 - One more travel photography website. And then more websites?
Well having deferred the next website that meant not continuing with other stuff.
The bottom line is this – Paxos Travel Guide needs to make money before I do anything else!
6 – My main website, with increased traffic from social media, YouTube and my new blog format.
I go into this in more detail in his post, but these things continue in a more systematic way than before.
7 – Affiliate marketing
Another one that I am working on more and more and will come back to.
8 – Commercial partnerships
This has not really gone anywhere since January and will be a consequence of other things that I am working on.
9 – Freelance writing
I am writing on my own websites and that is it! I do not have the time or the spare brain capacity for any other writing at the moment!
And how is this all going?
It is good to see that the newer stuff I wrote about in January of this year is stuff that I have been working on and is stuff for the future – I am happy with that.
I have refined and improved my thoughts since January to where I am now, so let’s get straight into this.
Here are my 11 essential photography business tips for 2020 and beyond.
1 - Niche down
I have sort of already done this, but I am taking this a step further.
I have placed myself firmly in the market for the following
These are the areas of photography that I specialise in. I do not do weddings, portraits, christenings, pets, corporate events etc. I have excluded people and animals from my photographic work unless they are related in some way to construction.
So I photograph buildings, nice places and buildings in nice places.
That should be my tag line – I like that! Actually I have just added that to my home page!
And that is it.
I do not pretend to do anything else, and everything I create is in these three genres.
I have worked on further separating my architectural, landscape and travel photography work which I will come on to.
But this is something that I need to do more work on – I need to make sense of the two distinct areas, architectural and travel photography. Either that or find a way for them to sit comfortably together.
At the moment I am thinking of separation which has a logical next step.
I take all my travel stuff and put this on a separate website leaving my website as an architectural photography website.
Or do I create a separate architectural photography website? I like the idea of that – I have masses of material that I can use for this niche.
Post writing this blog post note – the idea of a separate website just for architectural photography is very appealing but is something that I am going to put in my list of future projects.
Sorry I went off on one a bit there, but the principle of niching down is I believe very important in 2019.
I need to stay on track for now though and stick to my plan.
2 – Price, Quality and my place in the market.
When I was starting out one of my first commercial photography jobs was photographing damaged cars for insurance companies. I got paid £15 per job. I did this for a while and then progressed onto photographing houses and creating floorplans. That job paid me £50 per property.
Those days are long behind me now thankfully.
I work mainly for architects and have some new and very specific new client areas to target in the future.
I am targeting people who value architecture and design, and for whom excellent photography of their buildings is an essential marketing tool.
More on this in the future – let’s see how I get on with my plan!
I am also declining smaller photographic jobs and small budget jobs. I now have a minimum price level which is consistent with the very high standard of the architectural photography work that I create these days.
This is after many years of practise not only on taking photographs, but also studying composition, other peoples work and refining my digital image processing.
The quality of my work has increased significantly in recent years, and I have positioned myself where the market demands such high-quality imagery.
Quality and not quantity.
3 – My Photography Blog
I used to publish a daily photography blog. I stopped this late last year, and now produce a weekly blog post like this one. And to be honest with you I have no idea why I was publishing things of virtually no value daily!
These new posts are long, in-depth posts. I write about the following subjects.
General photography – I am writing information for the global photography market so that is just fine.
Photography gear that I use.
Photography business matters
Websites and related stuff
And that is it. This is a very deliberate plan to continue the niche down that I talked about with my photography work into not only my blog but all my online content.
I do not want to be a general practitioner - I want to specialise. And I believe very much that specialising is the future in a very crowded market.
There is an endless supply of photographers who will photograph anything for virtually no money – do you want to compete with them? I don’t – I have made that mistake before.
I want to be the photographer people think about when they want their building photographing – that is what I want to be known for.
And that takes time and hard work.
The travel stuff is an aside that sits somewhere else now which I will come on to later in this post.
Again, quality over quantity.
And is this working? Well I am getting more visitors to my website than ever before, so yes this is working incredibly well.
4 – Google - EAT.
What am I talking about?
EAT stands for
This is something that is becoming increasingly important.
Google is using these factors to rank websites. This is fact by the way.
So how do we do what Google wants us to?
Well, by writing all my own stuff on these narrow subject areas I believe I stand a better chance of being recognised as an expert. This is a natural continuation of what I am doing.
In business terms, this ties in well with the niche principle, so this is what I will continue to do, write about my areas of expertise.
The end point of this work is to get more visitors to my website – this is for two main reasons.
Web traffic can generate passive income through ads.
I want to get more people to contact me about taking photos for them – but I want them to the right people.
I take what Google says very seriously, and every post and piece of online content contributes to the Google EAT!
If you remember one thing from this post remember Google EAT.
And remember this as well - it is all about improving the quality of our websites using the guidance that Google has given us.
5 - Video
Video is the future. This is a very popular belief, and one that made me cringe. Video? Really?
How do I create videos that people will find interesting?
Do people want to watch and listen to me?
What gear do I need?
Or do I film stuff while I am out and about?
How do I create regular consistent content?
Where do I put this stuff?
Do I really have to do this?
Well it turns out the answer to the what question was staring me in the face. The rest of it was me facing the grim reality that I had to just get on with this.
What was the answer?
I have a weekly photography blog.
I have fresh new content created by me about my niches – this is the source of my video content.
So every week I publish a video on YouTube where I talk about the content of my weekly photography blog post.
And I mean every week.
And yes, there will be a video about this post.
Other than this I want to get into creating videos of nice places, but that is one for the future. I know that I should be working on this, and have tried a few things.
Basically I need to up my video creation massivley.
For now (until I finish other things( I will settle with me talking to the camera. It is getting easier over time; you never know I might get good at this!
6 – Pinterest
I wrote a post titled Pinterest for Photographers – check it out by clicking the link.
Why Pinterest of all the social media platforms?
Simple. Pinterest pins have a longer searchable life and are more searchable than posts on any other social media platform.
Tweets are gone on minutes, Instagram posts in hours and Facebook posts who knows?
And will all the complicated algorithms each platform is sending you the stuff they want you to see.
Now I know that Pinterest will be doing the same – the main difference for me is that posts stay searchable and visible for months, not hours.
Again, at the moment Pinterest is free so it is just a time commitment. I look at Pinterest as an extension of the work on my website planting seeds for the future.
Check me out on Pinterest here.
7 – YouTube
YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the internet. That says it all really.
I mentioned videos before. I won’t bore you with this again. It is one thing recording videos, but you need to do something with them.
This is what I am doing.
I have a couple of YouTube channels. On Rick McEvoy Photography I publish the videos of me talking to my phone about that week’s blog post.
I found this a scary prospect to be completely honest, but now I am into the swing of it I am getting on with it just fine. It is almost natural to me now.
And the set-up is simple.
I put my iPhone on my tripod, point it at me with my computer monitor in the background with the post I am talking about on the screen.
Videos should be a minimum of 6 minutes long by the way.
I have created 18 videos so far, and this will be video number 19. And the watch time is slowly increasing.
And I am also doing the same with my Paxos Travel Guide website – check this out here.
If you are not on YouTube get on there and just talk naturally to the camera about your niche – I promise you it is not as bad as it sounds.
And don’t worry about the quality – that will come with time. Worry about getting regular, relevant decent content onto the second biggest search engine on the planet.
It is free after all and does not take that long to do!
And every time I create a video I create a shorter one circa one-minute long which I publish on Pinterest – video is going to be a big thing on Pinterest and for once I am in there early.
8 - LinkedIn
I used to hate LinkedIn. I had a business profile for my construction day job. And then I had an idea and created a LinkedIn profile for my photography business.
And I pretty much left it there for a few years, just auto-sharing blog posts and not doing much more than that.
But now I am doing more. I am republishing one of my weekly blog posts related to my architectural photography work.
This is another niching down exercise – there are no sunrise shots here – just architectural and interior photography photos and articles.
I have just started doing this, and have to mention a chap called Jeff Brown, who is a photography mentor helping photographers increase their LinkedIn profiles. See – he has niched down to this. You can find him on LinkedIn and on his website Focus On Marketing.
And one thing that I did not know about LinkedIn – Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2billion!!!! So there must be something going to happen!
9 – Websites
I have three websites at the moment.
Why three websites? Well the Paxos website has been created solely to generate passive income. I have used a structure which I have learned through Income School. If this works I will create more websites.
Income is from advertising and affiliate marketing.
The Santorini website needs revisiting but will in time also be a website designed to generate a passive income.
And my main website is my shop window, my online portfolio, the place where people find me.
And with enough traffic another source of passive income.
And there is an important thing here – the Paxos and Santorini websites might be seasonal, but at different times to my photography website. I hope to have good traffic levels all year round.
My aim is to have 5 website each generating a modest income which will allow me to do only the work that I want to do.
Having a passive, regular income in the background is very appealing to me – the internet is definitely the future!
10 – Affiliates
I have affiliate arrangements with a number of companies. And yes these links are affiliate links.
And of course Amazon (this is not an affiliate link)
How do these things work?
Well starting with Amazon I write about stuff that I use on my blog. I link to products on Amazon, adding my affiliate code to the product link.
If someone buys that thing I get a commission.
How much have I earned? Less than a tenner so for, but this is early days.
And as for the others, I have arrangements with each company I mentioned above – if someone buys one of their products using my affiliate link I get a commission.
This is another new thing, but I am seeing income very slowly increase, getting £30 last month and the same this month (even though we are only halfway through).
If I can get a decent return on these affiliate links I will go into more arrangements with companies whose products I use or would like to use.
I have added affiliate links to the list of photography gear that I use which you can find on my gear page.
11 – Consistency and continuity
This is very important.
I have been jumping around all over the place up until the middle of last year that is. I have pretty much stuck to my plans since then, and what you are reading now is the refinement of that plan.
And I am sticking to this consistently.
Every week I publish a blog post. They are long, in-depth blog posts about a specific thing. Like this one.
And every week I create a YouTube video about the blog post. And a shorter video which is published on Pinterest and LinkedIn.
And every week I schedule pins to Pinterest.
And every week I create an article on LinkedIn.
Is this lot working?
I am seeing web traffic growth to all my websites. My photography website is receiving more web traffic than ever, significantly more. And this is all happening organically.
I see this all as me building strong internet-based foundations for the future in my very specific areas of work.
And I am going to continue with this for the rest of the year and moving into 2020. Sure there will be refinement and tweaks along the way, but the fundamentals are set.
What is my end game?
Time freedom and financial freedom.
That is what this is all about.
Where is all my stuff online?
Here are links to all the things that I have written about
I hope that you have found my thoughts and plans interesting, and that something that I have said has sparked an idea that you can action to help improve your photography business.
And after writing this I feel the need to get out and take some photos just for me - this is the one thing that I need to more of!
And there is a video to accompany this blog post which you can get to on my YouTube channel.
Rick McEvoy ABIPP, MCIOB – Photographer, writer, blogger, website creator.
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