The hardest part has been doing the whole “business” aspect of things. Paperwork, money, taxes, bills, what to spend on fun, what to buy for equipment, etc.
I am all word of mouth and word of mouse. I do some marketing but its all pretty simple. I like it when my work speaks for it self and when people can be around me, see how I shoot and interact with them, and then be able to recommend me. Thats the best way to get clients that I get along with and that get along with me – they know what to expect and they know what they’re getting when they hire me. I use facebook, my website, and my blog (not really my blog… but I try!) to connect me with my clients, as they love being able to share their images with everyone.
Changing technology just improves my ability/ease in editing photos, getting my work to my clients, and getting exposure. It hasn’t hindered my ability to improve in a business sense, it usually just adds to my business and gives me a little bit more of an edge.
I don’t hire “staff” because that involves a completely new business license, getting insurance for my employees, paying taxes for them and making sure they’re reported… but I do have plenty of independent contractors. I definitely recommend hiring people that are better at doing parts of your business that take the photographer a lot of time. Editing, making albums, booking travel, working out expenses and contracts – all that is better for someone else to do. Its obviously harder to do that if you don’t have a lot of income to spend on independent contractors, but its good to focus on what you do best – shooting and providing a rockin’ experience for your clients.
I am going to be bringing on a full time manager, but a lot of details still remain to be worked out. I think its a brilliant idea and more photographers should pursue it – I love outsourcing and I think its essential in succeeding in the business world.
Photograph tons. Get your work out. Do some stuff for free (or for a meal or something!), provide a good service and make your clients feel relaxed and that the photography experience was a lot of fun. Do photography because you absolutely love it and you couldn’t do anything else. Do photography because its your passion, not because it could make you money or give you status. Be creative and do crazy stuff – don’t ever let yourself get stuck in a routine. BE YOURSELF! =)