If you wanna start your own photography business, here are some practical tips I’d give you:
1. Barbell pricing: free or expensive
Give away your information or services for free.
For example, give away your ebooks, photos, and information away for free– but when you charge money, make it very expensive.
For example, give your client a free 1-hour consultation session. But then make sure you charge your client thousands of dollars for your services (if they actually want to book you).
Give away your blog posts and information for free, but charge thousands of dollars for a workshop.
The death of the photographic middle class: This is my theory: in the future, the middle class will no longer exist. If you read the book “CAPITAL”, the concept is the rich are getting richer, and the middle class is either getting poorer or richer. In America, I see it happening. The rich are buying more Lamborghinis and Teslas, while the poor are still barely paying rent, and their minimum hour wages aren’t getting any higher.
With Apple: their iPad is getting cheaper ($330) while their high end stuff ($3,500+ MacBook Pro laptop is getting more expensive).
Music is either free (Spotify) or very expensive concerts, or $65 concert t-shirts. Or $300 YEEZY Kanye West sneakers.
I see it here in Vietnam. The poor can barely scrape by. The rich are showered with Bentlys, Rolls-Royce Phantoms, Rolex watches, Hermes bags, and iPhones galore.
In the future, a wedding photographer will either cost $500 or $5,000+. In the future, a photography workshop will either be free (YouTube) or very expansive ($10,000+). Of course there will still be a lot of “middle price” stuff, but these photographers and entrepreneurs will struggle to sell anything– because competition in the middle will be too fierce.
2. Seek to be #1 in your field
Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal) has a theory of a “creative monopoly”– you need to be #1 in your field, or you will die, or just struggle to survive.
For example, I’m currently enjoying monopoly profits from STREET PHOTOGRAPHY, which frees up my mind from money– so I can actually write articles like this on how you can earn money. To be frank, I already have enough money to last me the rest of my life. I don’t need more money. But certainly holding the street photography throne (I’m #1 on Google for street photography) gives me peace of mind, to help society more.
Google owns the search engine market, by a long shot. Nothing comes close to Google Maps. Even Uber is dominating Lyft by a large margin.
Apple controls the smartphone market with the iPhone. Samsung doesn’t really come close.
For me, I became number one on Google for street photography by blogging about it a lot. I’ve written 2,700+ blog posts from 2011-2017. No human being has written as much on street photography, or ever will. I’m the most passionate street photographer I know, and also the most passionate photography blogger.
Without passion, you will never become #1 in your field, or sub-gene.
3. Dominate a niche
Practical advice: seek to dominate a niche, and then scale upwards.
For example, choose something very specific. So for example, you can focus on “film fashion photography”. Or you can specialize in “minimalist architecture photography”. Be specific.
I was lucky, when I started this blog in 2010, there were no blogs just on street photography that showed you how to shoot street photography. I had good timing, but I also worked my ass off. It took me probably 1,000 shots of espresso to write the “Learn from the masters of photography” series.
So try to find a niche that you’re interested in photography that hasn’t been blogged about a lot, then seek to dominate that niche. It will take you at least 6 years.
Even now, I work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. No rest for the wicked.
I drink probably 5-6 cups of coffee (black) a day. No breakfast or lunch. Without a love of hustle, you will never make it.
If you want to make it in the field of photography business and entrepreneurship, this is my takeaway advice:
- Build TRUST: trust is a simple word for “branding”. Trust takes a long time. Don’t bullshit your audience. Be honest. Be generous, helpful, and useful. Do this everyday for five years, and you will build your name.
- Charge a lot of money: when you do sell something, charge 25% more money than you think you should. We often under-sell ourselves in business. Don’t rate yourself as cheap.
- Never stop hustling: while you’re watching Netflix and dicking around on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat, someone is building their personal empire. Don’t get left in the dust.
Lastly, always believe in yourself, do deadlifts, drink espresso, and be strong.