Secrets of a Minnesota Photographer

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I started my business on what could be described as a whim in the spring of 2009.

I bought my first DSLR, quickly became obsessed with photography, and saw others starting photography businesses and making some money.

I thought, “I could do that.”

Each month, hundreds of people start photography businesses the exact same way.

The failure rate of start up businesses in general is high: 75% on average. The failure rate of photographers is even higher. According to one study I found says that the failure rate of photographers in the first 3 years of business is 85%. That means if 100 people decide to start a photography business, 60 of them will quit in their first year. 25 more will quit during their second year. Three years after the 100 started their businesses, there will statistically be only 15 of them left.

Why?

There are many, many reasons why businesses fail. People change their minds. Get bored. Lose their passion. Sometimes they move and don’t feel like starting over. Or they get too busy to add anything to their plate. But more often than not, it’s because they can’t make enough money and they have to stop their business in order to work elsewhere.

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[A photo from the first month after I bought my first ever DSLR]

Being a successful photographer is more about business than photography. Some people will even argue it follows the 80-20 rule – it’s 80% business and 20% photography.

Regardless of the percentages, it is an undeniable truth that in order to be one of those remaining 15%, you have to be able to be just as good at the business side as you are at the creative photography side. Maybe even better.

A lot of the time, people become photographers because they like taking photos, they have a creative eye, and they think, “Saawweeeet, I can make money doing this?!”

I should know. I said and did the same thing.

I had no idea what I was in for, in terms of the business side of being a photographer.

And I was/am not alone.

This article from Digital Photography School, which is where I got the statistics on photographer failure rates, has some good information for people wanting to start photography businesses. Or for people floundering, and wanting to make it in the 15% who succeed after 3 years.

I have similar motives with this blog series that I have planned. I’m calling it Secrets of a MN Photographer.

I have a lot that I’ve learned the hard way over the last 3.5 years as I’ve fought tooth and nail to be one of the 15% who have survived. I want to share the lessons I’ve learned and the things that I continue to struggle with. I want to share pieces of information that I’ve found helpful over the years as I’ve worked on building my business, in hopes that it can help others who are just starting or are fighting to be part of the 15% who make it three years as a photographer.

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[Another photo from my first few months with my camera.]

I doubt any of the information I share will be unique to me. I mean, I won’t invent any new information for this series. You can probably find everything I plan to talk about somewhere online right now if you look. There are billions of sites with information on being a photographer and pitfalls to avoid as you start your business, and I’m going to be the 1 billion and 1st. If I can help one person avoid something that could make their business fail before they reach the 3 year mark, then this series will be a success.

Feel free to share the information in upcoming posts with your photographer friends, or with people you know who aspire to run a successful photography business. And I encourage feedback either via comments or emails. I want to hear from you as this series progresses.

I think it’s going to be fun! Tune in soon for the next installment in Secrets of a MN Photographer.

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