In the world of photography, starting a business can be an exciting journey filled with creative opportunities and challenges. However, hindsight often provides valuable insights into what could have been done differently. If I were to embark on this journey fresh, here are five key strategies I would prioritize to set myself up for success:

1. Don't Waste Money on Courses

I wanted quick success and so I logically thought I'd learn from the experts. These days, there's an abundance of online courses promising to unlock the secrets of photography success (or really any business type). While education is important, spending excessive amounts on courses will likely not yield the desired return on investment. I spent a good chunk of change on a course only to realize it was a waste. Nearly all of the same info was available on YouTube for free but also from other photographers, from trial and error, and from local groups. Be very careful of expensive courses! If it's in your budget and you have personal references vouching for the teacher then maybe consider it but seriously - there's no magic solution (that's not already on YouTube.)

2. Spend Money on Lenses

Investing in high-quality lenses is the more important than your camera body for delivering awesome images that stand out in a competitive market. Rather than splurging on the latest camera body with all the bells and whistles, prioritize building a versatile collection of lenses. From wide-angle to telephoto, each lens offers unique possibilities, allowing you to capture diverse subjects and scenes with precision and clarity. Quality lenses not only enhance the visual appeal of your work but also signal professionalism to clients. BUT do your homework. Just because you see others using a certain lens, doesn't mean it's the best. I would start with a good 50mm that is has an aperture under 2.0. This is a game changer.

3. Try Everything to Find What You Love

Photography encompasses a variety of genres, from portrait and landscape to wildlife and street photography. Instead of pigeonholing yourself into one niche from the outset, explore different styles and subjects with an open mind. By experimenting with various techniques and genres, you'll discover where your passion truly lies. Embracing versatility not only keeps the creative spark alive but also expands your potential client base and income streams. Over the past year, I've fallen in love with 2 particular genres; senior portraits and sports photography. Had I not tried them, I would not have known.

4. Simplify Your Website

In today's digital landscape, a sleek and user-friendly website is essential for showcasing your portfolio and attracting potential clients. However, simplicity is key. Rather than cluttering your website with lots of words about you and your style, I would focus on creating a clean, minimalist layout that highlights my best work. Be sure clients can navigate easily, see your portfolio and know exactly how to book you. Think like a client. They want something and they want to find it fast. If stuff gets in the way, they will go elsewhere. Think problem, solution, results. What is the problem the client wants to solve? What solution do I offer? What results can they expect?

5. Give More Than Expected

Building a successful photography business is not just about capturing great images; it's also about delivering exceptional customer service. To set myself apart from the competition, I would make it a priority to exceed my clients' expectations at every opportunity. Your package may offer 20 digitals. That's great. Make that clear. Then give them more. Maybe throw in a few prints too. They are inexpensive and they will appreciate it. A happy client will refer you and help grow your business.

Starting a photography business requires planning, continuous learning, and a willingness to adapt to changing trends and technologies. By avoiding common pitfalls, investing wisely, exploring opportunities, optimizing online presence, and prioritizing customer satisfaction, you can lay a solid foundation for success in this dynamic industry. With passion, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence, the possibilities are limitless.