Business Tips: 5 Reasons Photography Businesses Fail

– Jay P. , I really wanna build
a photography business that doesn’t fail.
– I’m going to give you five reasons why most
photo businesses fail. Before we begin, we want to thank
Squarespace for not only believing in your career by sponsoring these business videos
but also for creating a website platform that’ll help you set up your website
quickly and create a strong web presence. Squarespace has generously offered 10% off
for the Slanted Lens viewers. Use the code Slanted to take advantage of
its powerful platform today. – Hi, I’m Adelaide Lawren.
– And this is Jay P. Morgan, and here’s five reasons why
most photo businesses fail. First, people don’t pick up the phone.
They don’t call people. They don’t work on their business. I saw a great article on
Fstoppers where the guy said, “I work really hard,” and so his friend
said, “you don’t work very hard.” And he said, “well, I’ll keep
a log of my time. I’ll show you how hard I work.”
And he said he kept a log of his time and after a week or so he’s going,
“I don’t really work that hard. I check my newsfeed, I check–”
– Oh. – –things on here. I did–”
– When people get distracted– – Yeah. You gotta pick up the phone and
start calling people. As difficult as that is, it’s the most valuable way to keep
your business from failing. Pick up the phone and start calling people. We’re
gonna teach you how to do that. Not just calling anyone but specific individuals in
our business culture class. Number 2… – Number 2 is they don’t work on their
business, like you were just saying that guy was logging hours and not doing
anything. I mean you feel like you’re so busy doing stuff but you aren’t. One thing
I love to use is Toggle, and it’s free, like, on your desktop, and you can
actually, like, write the project that you’re working on,
and then start the timer on it. I use that all the time when
I don’t wanna do something. I’ll put it on and I’ll, like, look at it
and, like, “okay, I’ve been doing this for 20 minutes,” and I know my intent
of what I’m doing and I get it done. I love that. But a lot of people, they
don’t do that. They get distracted and– – That’s it.
– It doesn’t happen. – Great bit of advice. You know what?
Looking at the price of new lenses at B&H is not working on your business.
Just for your bit of information there. – Okay, so–
– But this is what photographers think that is.
– Really? – Absolutely. “Oh, I’m checking out
lenses. I really need them. I’m thinking about my grade”. No. That’s not
working on your business. – That’s why in our business coaching
class, we’re gonna help you make a marketing and a business plan and hold
you to that so you can get these things done. If you’re looking at lenses for
work, then this will be the most intense four months of your life. – But we’re gonna help you create a daily
plan of action, a process each day to be able to get work.
So, number 3… – Number 3 is they keep quiet
about what they do. – Oh, this one kills me.
– Yeah. – Sorry, did I sound like I got shot
in the head or something? Oh! – Ooh!
– Ooh! – Guess you do… Oh!
– ‘Cause it kills me. It does kill me. It is a very simple
process. “Hi, how do you do? My name’s Jay P. Morgan. Tell me
what you do for a living.” “Well, I’m a lawyer.
I work downtown.” “Well, that’s really interesting.”
– Well, why don’t you do it with me? – I like that.
– Oh, I’ll do it with Adelaide. I’ll ask her what she does.
– Okay. – Hi, Adelaide. Tell me what
you do for a living. – I do marketing. – Excellent. And what kind of work do you
do? What area? What, you know… – I am a marketing coach for
photographers and videographers. – That’s nice. So how did you get into
that? What caused that? – I just saw a lot of really awesome
photographers who spend so much time working on their craft and they don’t know
how to get themselves out there to make money and I wanna help them do that.
What do you do? – I’m a photographer, actually.
– Oh, really? – I should hire you to
help me with my marketing. – I’d love to. – Okay. This is maybe not the greatest
example. – No. This is really bad.
– [laughs] – I thought I was supposed to ask you–
– But, no, well, you see it, though. – –right away.
– Yeah. No, it’s there. If you asked
somebody what they do, eventually they’re gonna ask you what you do and be prepared
to say, “I do videography. I am a videographer. I shoot corporate videos,”
and hand them a business card and so, you know what? Sometimes you talk about
it. You don’t have to go very far. You’ll be fascinated how many people are out
there just wanting to find somebody and they can’t find the person. And, when
when there’s a connection. “Oh, I met this guy. I met this gal. I know them”. All of
a sudden, because they’ve met you, somehow you’re better
than if it’s a cold call. But, it works.
– I wanna add 4.5 in this list. – 4.5. Okay.
– 4.5 because as you say that I just thought a lot of
photographers take any work that comes their way. So, like,
they say they’re a wedding photographer and they’re like, “can you shoot my
kids?” A lot of people will, you know, you’re a commercial photographer
and they’re like, “can you take a picture of our family?” and do things like that.
– I get that all the time. – Yeah, and I bet, I mean, you guys do,
too. I know you do. And so, I think it’s also really important to say no to work
so you can open yourself up to say yes for other projects.
– I think that’s a great point. – So, going back to number 4,
because 4.5 was after that. – 4 it is. We’re on 4.
– Number 4 is that a lot of photographers don’t
understand how to use the money in their business. They don’t understand
overhead, where you come up with your prices and when you can buy new
equipment and when you can’t. – They don’t understand how to set up
budgets or put together a business plan that’ll help them make decisions that will
keep them in the black, so… – And you know what, and it makes me
really sad, is when I see a talented photographer stop being a photographer
because they’ve run out of money. – You know I’ve had this experience in my
own life. I ventured into two businesses with partners that just went deep, deep,
deep into debt, and if I had understood better with the numbers of that, I should
have cut bait end a long time into ’em, but I didn’t. So, personal experience.
We’re gonna show you how to not have that problem. So number 5… – Number 5 is that a lot of photographers
really truly don’t understand who their target audience is. This means who the
people are that actually pay for the jobs that you do. So, I see a lot of
photographers, you know, if they’re doing weddings, they try to do, anybody in San
Francisco that does weddings, they don’t focus on their style and try to find
the people who like vintage weddings. – They really aren’t looking for the right
clientele. They’re not looking for the people that fit what they do and then how
to identify that people and then go after ’em and market to them, and
then get them to hire them. – How can you expect to make money if you
don’t know who the people are that are gonna give you the money,
who are gonna pay you? – You know, I can add a little, at the
end of this, maybe this is 5., 5 and 1/2. – Okay.
– …is that they don’t make a decision about what they wanna do.
They’re not, they’re not willing to get out on a limb and say, “you
know what, I’m gonna go after this.” And a lot of times, so they’re going, “I’m
not really sure what I’m doing. I’m not really positive where I’m going,” and it’s
like wandering around with that and you really can’t expect to be successful in
your business. It’s like saying “why, I’m gonna be a fast food place, I guess, but
I’m not sure what kind of food we’re gonna serve, I mean…”
– Yeah. – “Maybe we’ll serve chicken… ”
– Italian… – “maybe we’ll do tacos, maybe
Italian… I don’t know.” – Just, do something. Yeah.
– It’s just, doesn’t work. – It doesn’t work and I think a lot of
that comes from the fear of putting yourself out there because if you wanna
be, you know, commercial photographer, you wanna have a big wedding business. It’s
gonna hurt to fail at it and so you don’t want to commit but the sooner you commit,
the sooner you can start building. The sooner you can reach your goals. So,
that’s why commitment is so important. So, if you aren’t committing, try being
decisive in other areas of your life so that you can start being more
decisive in your business. – And that’s where we start in our
business coaching class. What you have to offer in this industry and now you need
to make a decision on how you’re gonna try to make a living in this industry.
From that decision, we can build everything else. – Our business coaching class is
starting September 3rd, so go to to sign up today.
September 3rd. – September 3rd.
– And we’ll make you pick up the phone. ♪ [ theme music] ♪

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26 thoughts on “Business Tips: 5 Reasons Photography Businesses Fail

  1. I love RescueTime for keeping myself accountable and on time.

    I'll admit, I do have a hard time telling people what I do. We're so saturated with photographers these days, I feel apprehensive about saying, "I'm a photographer," (unless I can immediately show them how great my work is) because in my head I already imagine them saying, "Yet another one…"

    I need to get over that somehow, and somedays I'm better at it than others.

  2. Im just starting out and a lot of your tips you mentioned are dead on to why my business is failing. I would love to get in on your coaching but Im not making enough money to pay for marketing. So I have been looking for wonderful but Free resources such as the information you have been giving. Thank you sooo much for everything I have learned so far. I cant wait to listen to more. I wish I could be a part of your coaching. Rochelle

  3. Do you offer assistance/coaching for those thinking about starting a part-time business?  I have a day job in an office cubicle, but I get excited about the thought of getting out and starting a part-time business.  Been a photo hobbyist for 20+ years.

  4. Hi JP, wonderful advice. I know this is a very old video, and I'm looking forward to your other content regarding business development. Although, I would merge these ideas with the ones from Zach Arias. So, I would add 2 more reasons that will make your business fail. 1. 9 out of 10 photographers wannabe don't even know how a camera works, and rely on automation, so learn your craft and 2. Get your quality up to the level of being so good that people will actually give you money for your images. New gear won't give you this, but practice and learning from the masters. Begin by imitating images that call your attention, try to recreate them, and eventually you'll start developing your own style.
    Add to that your other 5 reasons, and you have a rock solid business plan to make your business soar.

    I've been working so much in the technical side of photography, learning my craft, back from the film days, that I now feel confident with it. But I failed on other areas, like not calling people. I've done some imitation by default, now knowing it would improve my photography, but it did. So, I need to do it more.

  5. Videographer. Vide …..ographer. Viddy ….ographer. It's not that difficult to say.

    What the heck is a VIDEOWOGRAPHER ?

    Great video thank you.

  6. Hey, how's things?,

    Nice Video.

    What other tips have you got?

    Right now i'm looking at other methods


  7. Stopping most businesses from failing while saving your own business by selling photography courses and its tip # 6

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