What to name your photography business is one of the first questions any entrepreneur has to answer before venturing out into the freelance world. Many photographers simply use their full name as their business name, but could that be the worst decision ever? Today, we discuss some of the most important things to consider before making the jump into being a full-time photographer.
When the custom website design company Wix reached out to us with a sponsored video idea, we thought it would be interesting to not only talk about what makes a good website, but also some of the other topics many people completely overlook when starting their business. The video above is part one of our series "How to Build a Website," and in it, we discuss what you should name your business and how you should brand your photography company. This is part one of a four-part series, and if you want to follow along, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel or at least check out the "How to Build a Website" playlist.
Naming Your Business
One of the main topics discussed in the video above deals with how you name your business. There are two trains of thought here: you can name your business after you and brand it as you the artist, or you can name your business anything you'd like and brand it without any association to you.
If you name your business Patrick Hall Photography, then it's very clear who you are and what your business does. This can be great if you want to be known as an artist, you plan to be the lead photographer on every shoot, and you want potential clients to book you because of your personality and creative direction. The main problem with this method is it can be very limiting if you ever want associate photographers under you, which is often the case with large wedding studios, and if you ever decide to sell your photography business, very few people will want to buy something heavily branded as a specific person. Some genres of photography like editorial, commercial, and fashion might be better candidates for full-name branding, while others, like wedding, architectural, and event photography might actually benefit from a more ambiguous name.
What is an ambiguous name? That's basically any photography company name that doesn't depend on the actual name of the photographer. A good example of this is Lee Morris's wedding company "Charleston Wedding Photography," which also uses the same domain name. Wedding photography works well for this, because most of your clients will not expect any specific photographer to show up the day of the wedding, and in this case, because the name uses strong keywords associated with a specific city, it will do very well in attracting potential clients looking for a wedding photographer in Charleston. It undermines Lee Morris, the individual, brilliant, creative artist, but it now has more commercial viability and can handle multiple weddings on a single day.
The other major advantage to a more ambiguous name is that if you wind up building a very successful business with tons of SEO and a high ranking with Google, it's going to be much easier to sell a company called Charleston Wedding Photography over one called Lee Morris Wedding Photography. There are some exceptions to this rule, like our friends over at Lin and Jirsa Weddings, which is named after three lead photographers and operates as a large studio with many associate photographers. However, in most cases, if you want to build a big studio that doesn't require you to personally take photos at every gig, you might want to name your business more generically instead of after yourself.
Specializing Your Business
The other main topic in this video deals with marketing your skills and selling yourself as a specialist in your field of photography. While I wholeheartedly recommend photographers becoming as well-rounded in all genres of photography as possible, I do not recommend making a single website that shows off all sorts of genres of photography.
Most clients want to hire a specialist. If you are getting married and spending more money than ever on a single event, you don't want a jack of all trades capturing your wedding day. Most brides, especially those with larger budgets, are going to want a photographer who specializes in wedding photography alone. This doesn't mean you can't also simultaneously run a headshot business and a family portrait business, but your wedding clients do not need to see those images. Instead, I recommend photographers create multiple websites for each genre of photography they want to make money shooting. By doing this, you can market specifically to each niche clientele without making yourself look like a jack of all trades, master of none.
Back when I was living in Charleston, South Carolina, I had several websites that specifically targeted different genres of photography. This allowed me to price my time based on the going rate for each genre and not on one standard rate for my time. On my wedding website, I could charge $500 an hour, while on my family portrait website, I could charge $300 an hour. If the going rate for headshots in my area was $600 a session, I wouldn't want my portrait clients to know that I was only charging $400 a session.
There is also a hagiarchy in photography that is a bit of a taboo topic for most photographers. Big commercial clients almost never want to hire a photographer who shoots weddings. It's not because they don't respect them or feel like they aren't capable of shooting larger jobs, but it's because they know weddings are the entry point for many photographers and don't want to risk a high-paying commercial campaign on someone who mainly photographs weddings. In reality, there are actually a lot of wedding photographers who also shoot commercial jobs paying five figures, but all of them have separate websites advertising their commercial work with no mention of weddings at all.
Obviously, it costs more money and time to build out four different photography websites instead of just one. However, by specializing and separating your work into multiple different websites, I guarantee you will be able to secure jobs from your competition more easily as well as charge more for the work you are doing in each one of those fields.
Design Your Own Custom Website
If you want to test drive a website from Wix, head over to Wix.com/fstoppers and try out a site for free, and then save a little if you decide to upgrade to the full site. As mentioned above, we will soon be releasing episode two of "How to Build a Website" with Wix, where we talk about the specific features and sections you should have on your photography website. Stay tuned for that video and leave any comments about your experience building your photography website below!