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Could someone guide me as to how I need to promote children's portraits? Could you please highlight the dos and don'ts? I have been looking at setting up this business for a while now but have been really apprehensive.

All inputs appreciated.

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2  
Hi @Pixpix and welcome to the site! –  rfusca Aug 18 '11 at 7:04
    
Great question. Made me think "Why haven't I asked that?". Welcome to the site :) –  AJ Finch Aug 22 '11 at 10:05

4 Answers 4

Here are a few tips: I'm sure others will contribute more:

Remember it's a business

Especially if this is going to be your main source of income (but even if it isn't), don't make the mistake of thinking you should start by doing freebies for friends and family. Believe in the quality of your work and charge reasonably for it from Day 1.

Invest in some basic equipment

You don't say whether you'll be running the business from your own premises or photographing people at their own homes, but either way decide what equipment you need and make a small investment up front. For example, if you're going to be photographing mostly single or pairs of children indoors, in other people's homes where you can't guarantee good light or lots of space, I'd recommend at least a couple of flashes with umbrellas/softboxes, remote triggers and stands, and a portable backdrop (if that's your style). If you have your own studio, a proper set of studio lights might be more appropriate. The portable set-up needn't cost more than a few hundred £/$. It's OK to start on a budget as long as you know how to make the most of it: the results are what counts.

It should go without saying that a decent camera (certainly an SLR) is a necessity. :)

Get a website

Sounds obvious but it's essential for a business nowadays, especially if you're in a visual medium. Make the most of it by putting a portfolio of your best work up on display. Make sure the domain name of your site matches the name of the business and use it for your e-mail address too. (Mail from mike@greatkidpics.com looks much more credible than from your Gmail address.)

...and permission to use photos on it

Don't forget to get permission before using photos from client shoots on your website. The simplest way is to incorporate it as standard in a set of terms & conditions that you sign off with clients prior to a shoot. Again, no need to hire a lawyer for this: a simple set of terms in plain English does the job just fine.

Promote yourself!

Again, depending on where you are there are a load of ways of doing this. Facebook is indispensable. Create a Page for your business and persuade all your friends and family to Like it and spread the word. Link to it from your website. Keep it lively by posting regular updates and samples of your shoots (again, worth including permission for this in the T&Cs). Get clients to connect to it too, and request/suggest/nag that they spread the word if they're happy with your work. If you want to, invest in some ads too (on Facebook and/or Google). Facebook really is a powerful tool for spreading the word beyond your own circle of friends: gotta love that social graph!

Twitter is some use too but it works in a different way: it's less socially-oriented. Friends hang out together and have conversations on Facebook.

Also consider ads in local press or flyers in local businesses. I haven't done these myself though so I can't say how useful they are.

I hope some of that's of use to you. Good luck!

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OK, this probably isn't what you want to hear, but I've been a professional photographer for more than 15 years now and this speech (or some form thereof) is something I regularly give to my students as this question (or some form thereof) is one of the 'top 5' that I get on a regular basis...

If you're looking for super general business advice 'tips' then you may get a few sorta-helpful answers here at photo-SE, but if you're looking for something more specific from actual photography professionals you may be in the wrong place... No actual professional is going to discuss the specifics of their business marketing efforts on the open internet and with a potential competitor (or if they do, they're an idiot). Furthermore, you don't really want to know what makes other people successful anyway (even if you think you do) because the vast majority successful professionals (in any industry) either don't know why they're successful (even if they think they do), or are successful because of something you can't replicate anyway (like their charisma).

Your best bet at true success is going to pick up a book or three geared towards helping you develop your own strategies, and then do all the homework recommended in the books before you start anything. There are lots out there, but my personal recommendations are:

By committing the time (and yes, a bit of money) to get these books, read them, and do all the homework in them you'll be able to demonstrate to yourself whether or not you're actually ready to start a business, or whether you're more interested in 'playing at' having a business... Otherwise known as having an expensive hobby. Also, if you get done with all this work and still want to be in the photography business the fact that you did the homework means that you'll have the answers at your fingertips for what you should do next to promote your business.

I realize all this may sound like 'old cranky photographer' talk, but please don't take it that way... I've helped more than a dozen photographers start their own businesses over the years and the only real secrets to success I've found are: don't take shortcuts, and don't believe that 'sure-fire' quick tips from anyone are going to be the 'key' to your success. There's money to be made in photography, but there's no real 'secret' to wealth in the photography industry (or any other industry for that matter) other than a whole lot of hard work and perseverance. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.

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+1 - 'or any other industry for that matter' - so true. –  rfusca Aug 18 '11 at 21:56
    
"No actual professional is going to discuss the specifics of their business marketing efforts on the open internet..." - This is true, and it is pretty easy to find a local group of pros that get together and provide support, do shoots together, and share the details you need to become successful. Just don't expect that to be published for everyone(including clients) to see! –  dpollitt Aug 19 '11 at 15:50
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+1 for "Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something" –  Nir Aug 19 '11 at 22:06
    
just +1, basically :-) –  Darkcat Studios Oct 22 '13 at 8:57

More info at: Going Pro

I follow the guys over at http://GoingPro2010.com, who give a lot of advice, most of which is "common" sense - but no less useful for that!

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One thing I see regularly around town here is photographers setting up events at local malls and supermarkets where people can get their children photographed for a small fee (cheaper than studiowork for sure, but of course less customisation and you have to queue). Seems popular, there's always crowds. And the parents get to know your name, get your businesscard and address sticker on the back of the prints. If they like it, they may tell others.
Of course make darn sure you can deliver a good product in a rapid progression (one child every few minutes or faster), as such a thing can also ruin your reputation very quickly.

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