Avoid these mistakes when turning pro

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That decision to jack in the day job and go all-in on the photography can be a tough one. At what stage do you decide to give it a shot? What if it doesn’t work out? These thoughts are very common when taking a major step such as this, and it’s easy to second-guess yourself and make mistakes.

Luckily, plenty of people have done this before and can help you avoid the most common missteps. In this video, Nathan Cool gives us his top mistakes to avoid making when you decide to shoot professionally.

Invest wisely in gear

Ah, the lure of the shiny new camera/lens/whatever. It’s an easy trap to fall into to think that you always need the newest, most expensive equipment, but that is the fastest way to burn through any profits and get into debt. Nathan says that his older cameras and lenses are absolutely fine for getting the job done and he wouldn’t be seduced by the most expensive gear. Use the equipment that gets the job done.

Balance passion and practicality

Maybe you love landscape photography and would love to go all-in shooting outdoors day after day. That’s fine if you’ve already built up a steady income from that and purely want to devote more time to that. However, if you love landscape photography but aren’t making much money from it, it doesn’t make sense to try to do that full-time.

Perhaps you can look at other more viable commercial photography genres. Nathan went from engineering to architecture and real estate photography. He was passionate about it but also realistic enough to be able to create a viable business from it.

Marketing on a budget

One mistake photographers make is overspending on marketing, hoping to attract clients instantly. A low-budget, smartly targeted marketing approach often works best. Seeking out sustainable clients and relying on referrals will prove more effective than constant, expensive marketing efforts. A consistent client that returns is worth far more than a new client usually.

Quality over quantity

Some photographers compromise on quality, believing that temporary media doesn’t warrant perfection. Nathan disagrees – the quality of your work reflects not only your skill but also your potential for future referrals. Striving for excellence in every project, regardless of the genre, pays off in the long run.

Pricing your worth

Undercharging for quality work is a common mistake. By setting prices based on competition and then surpassing them in terms of quality, responsiveness, and customer service, you position yourself as a top-tier photographer. This approach attracts repeat business and justifies higher rates.

Select clients wisely

Choosing clients wisely, rather than the other way around, is a crucial mindset shift. Instead of advertising to the masses, focus on sustainable clients with a good reputation. Building a referral-based business will set you up better for long-term success.

Once again, doing anything new often means that you’ll make mistakes. I seem to still make plenty and I am certainly no newbie! Keep learning and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s not an easy profession, but it beats working in an office all day!

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