Why Photography is Key For Your Small Business...
If you're running a small business solo it's very likely you're doing it all, maker, photographer, marketing, customer service and everything in between. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to invest in to take the pressure off and free up time for your actual job. And, tricky to know when exactly is the right time to pay for a professional. I can only speak from personal experience but here's why I think photography could be that thing to invest in this year.
For the first two years of my biz I roped a friend into coming over and modelling jewellery for me, using my SLR camera at home. I'm not awful with a camera but I certainly don't know what I'm doing 80% of the time. The results were OK, but time consuming and pretty much the same shot over and over again. Once I took the plunge and invested in a photoshoot with Beth Cath Key Photography, I felt I finally had images that represented my brand and I saw a dramatic difference in my number of sales.
Why do I need it though?
Blurry photos, poor composition, dodgy angles, strange lighting or simply 'meh', some photos just don't quite cut it for the gram, let alone a website or an online store where you are supposed to be attracting customers. You spend so long creating those beautiful products, they need that beautiful photography to do them justice.
Your social media and your website are essentially your shopfront online. Imagine you had a physical store, how would you want that to look? How would you dress the windows and draw your customers in? Think about how you could translate that to your online shop and get across your brand identity with some professional imagery.
If you are selling a physical product the photos should be clear, so people can see what they are spending their money on! Have you ever been on Ebay wanting to buy a pair of trousers and been put off by that singular blurry image that the seller has put up? You don't want to put potential customers off with poor images. If you are selling clothing or jewellery it's always a good idea to have images of your products worn, not only to show scale but to inspire people with the styling and storytelling. Online, the only thing between a customer and your product is a photograph - it should be amazing to make them want to buy it!
When is the right time to invest in photography?
This will be different for everyone and based entirely on where they are in their career and the amount of money they have available to spend. I booked in for my first shoot in 2021 after having been in business for 3 years (although I was on maternity leave for a good year and a half of that)!
The difference the images made to my business felt quite dramatic at the time. I was finally able to have high res, beautiful photographs on my website which instantly made it feel more professional and on brand. Not only that, my product images were so clear and styled well, showing the scale of the jewellery when worn that it was much easier for customers to make the decision to buy. I ordered new business cards and postcards with the photos and perhaps most important of all, I had shareable content. The social media world is vastly different now, but at the time when I posted the images they got so much engagement and shares which opened up avenues for new customers and led to many more sales.
I've since had images from my shoots with Beth Cath Key Photography published in 3 magazines, all of these opportunities came through Instagram - reiterating how important it is to be sharing good photos on your social media.
If you're not quite ready to invest hundreds, you could team up with creative friends or connect with photographers on Instagram...
Sometimes it's a great idea to get in touch with fellow creatives on Instagram and collaborate to see what magic can be made! For the first few years I collabed with photographers who wanted to include my jewellery for photoshoots to build their portfolio. This is a great way to see how shoots work and get some high res images to share! Instagram is a great way to find fellow creatives who may be looking to build their portfolio and want some brands to get involved. Here's a few images from photographers I teamed up with over the years:
Some tips that you may find useful:
- Take the time to research different photographers and see what aesthetic suits you and your brand. Photography is an investment and not a decision to be made on a whim! Make sure you are confident that the photographer you're choosing is the right one for your brand.
- Create a Pinterest board to build ideas and inspiration, you can share this with your photographer when the time comes to make sure they know exactly what you're after.
- Collab with fellow creatives! Get in touch with other small businesses who could provide clothing, styling, hair and make up etc. It's good for everyone involved to market their brands.
- Plan for the seasons! I tend to book my photography around Christmas time when I've got a good amount of income from sales to pay the 50% deposit.
- If you're definitely not ready to invest in photography, maybe you could spend some time learning how to edit your photos professionally via YouTube tutorials? Or if you've got that SLR camera lying around and you're not really sure what you're doing, you could take part in a workshop that could teach you the basics. Sarah Brittain Edwards offers these sorts of classes in the South West.
- Again, if you're not ready to invest, it's a good idea to look at Pinterest and indie magazines to get some styling ideas and think about how you want to style your products to make your photos look professional and engaging.
So, will 2023 be the year you up your photography game?!