Since starting my own business almost accidentally (Laura Haley Photography was created when I lost my job and so became a freelancer) I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve mostly learnt things I would do BEFORE leaving a full time job to start a business, if I had my time again (and a crystal ball!). When I was asked to share my thoughts on this with you guys I knew I had so much useful advice to share, so please do read this if you’re ever thinking ‘hey, I wouldn’t mind starting my own business’.
(Photo credit: Kariss)
Before you start anything, I’d suggest there’s a few things you’ll need. You’ll need a plan. What will your business sell/do/provide. How are you different to competitors. Who are you going to advertise to, and how? You’ll want a basic website and I’d suggest deciding what you need this to do. Does it need to be more of a portfolio, like mine? Are you using it as an online shop? Is the content going to be written once and stay the same, or be constantly changing? Are you capable of making this website and maintaining it, or do you need to find someone to do that? What about social media-does your business need accounts? (I’d say, in 2018, yes you do!) What will be on those accounts?
Once you’ve decided all of this, write it all down. For me, I have a website that is an online portfolio to show my photography, with minimal pricing information and some client testimonials. My social media channels are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Instagram is again used as a portfolio, Twitter allows me to speak to clients directly and promote myself to bloggers and Facebook is a way of promoting to non bloggers, including in local Facebook pages.
That should lead itself into an actual plan of what you aim to do, how and by when. I’d suggest getting your website up and some content on your social channels teasing that you’re launching soon. Really, you want to have some stock sorted (if you’re selling things) or the kit you need to provide the service fully, too. Then, choose a launch date and shout about yourself from the rooftops. Starting my own business was NOT a time to be shy, for me.
I was clever about how I promoted myself and my business. I used local Facebook groups, blogger groups, and my own personal social media accounts as well as the new blog ones. I invited everyone I know to like my page, offered half price shoots to build up my portfolio and ran a Twitter and a Facebook competition to raise my profile. I considered offering free shoots to bloggers but decided this is maybe something for the future of Laura Haley Photography.
I’m pleased to say that, in the six months since starting my own business Laura Haley Photography has gone from strength to strength. I’ve had repeat bookings from three clients, one who has now shot with me four times and counting. I’ve had lovely comments on my work, I’ve shot some photos of my friends that I adore, and I’ve got some great plans for the future.
I would say though, my one piece of advise for anyone thinking of quitting their day job to work for themselves would be absolutely do it, but cover your arse first. I wish that I’d had advance warning of this so that before starting my own business I could have saved six full months wages as a buffer first. Always aim to do this, because it makes life so much less stressful.
Have you started your own business? Are you considering it? Do you want to chat about it? I’m always happy to hear from you, if so.