Stop whining. DO something.
Get out of your own bubble. Realize that you are NOT as awesome as you think- and that’s OKAY, because it means that you have a endless amount of AWESOME things to learn.
Get critique. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/383695748352902/) Not pats on the head- gut-wrenching, honest, straight-forward, HELPFUL critique that makes you cry and then lights a fire under you to be BETTER. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ShredderPhoto/) Learn to take critique with NO excuses, complaining, or justifications. Take it like a photographer.
Learn from others. Read. Read more. Google everything.
Make your business a REAL business- right from the beginning. SO many photography “businesses” that have gone down in flames could have been saved. Do it right, right out of the gate, and you are SO far ahead of the game. Learn how to calculate your CODB so that you KNOW how much you need to make- never set up your pricing based on what “sounds good” (http://www.themoderntog.com/free-photographers-pricing-guide-overview and http://www.stacyreeves.com/greatestpricingguideever.pdf).
Set up your business legally (http://www.themoderntog.com/start-photography-business). It’s actually really easy and cheap and saves you SO much money later on.
Get a CPA (in the beginning, I paid $100 a year to my CPA (https://www.daveramsey.com/elp/home/). They are NOT scary or expensive when you start out, and they will save you from dumb mistakes that land you in thousands of dollars of debt for taxes. Get one.)
Have contracts for EVERY shoot you do. Yes, even friends. Especially friends. Setting expectations and everyone knowing EXACTLY what to expect is more important than how good of a photograph you can take. That’s really, really, really important, so I’m going to say it again: Setting expectations and everyone knowing EXACTLY what to expect is more important than how good of a photograph you can take. Don’t just lift a contract off the internet unless you want to have it taken to court and shredded by a lawyer. Buy a solid one from a legal pro.
A basic portrait contract will only cost $100 or so. The FIRST $100 you make, buy it. Use it.(http://www.thelawtog.com/shop/) Make sure that your clients understand it. Better yet, go over it WITH them at booking. (speaking of booking, ALWAYS make them pay before you hold the date. No money, no booking. No paying after or on the date)
Don’t worry about a logo or branding yet. (http://psychologyforphotographers.com/why-your-brand-is-not-your-logo) Your brand is the type of “person” your business is. That will come later. Years from now, when you’re ready to get visual branding, hire an amazing pro designer to help you. A cheap designer is more expensive if you hate what they end up making for you or you need to do it over and over. Do it once, do it right. But wait on that.
Don’t choose a “cutesy” name, especially in the beginning. Use your own name or something simple. You can change it later if you wish. Most of us regret our first “cute” name choice. Google it, make sure it is unique. Get a unique URL for your site. Don’t use a .net or .biz- no one will remember to type that and they’ll end up going to a different site by accident.
Get good gear that is appropriate for what you shoot- as soon as you can without incurring debt you can’t handle. If you can’t get good gear, rent. (https://www.lensprotogo.com/) Avoid debt at all costs- especially when you’re new and have way more to learn. Only buy gear when you have exhausted what you can do with what you have and know it better than the back of your hands.
Follow amazing people who offer to teach on their sties and blogs. (http://www.themoderntog.com/, http://photographyconcentrate.com/)
Learn when to say no. Realize that people who say “you’re too expensive” are NOT good judges of your business or worth. (http://clickinmoms.com/blog/i-cant-afford-you-and-other-lies-photography-clients-tell-you/)
Stop making excuses, and learn to control what you shoot. Learn good posing (http://www.creativelive.com/catalog/all?qt=&price=0&sort=1&page=1&qd=posing), learn off-camera manual flash (http://strobist.blogspot.com/), learn your camera settings in and out and up and down (http://www.creativelive.com/courses/fundamentals-digital-photography-2014-john-greengo), learn to speak to clients effectively (http://psychologyforphotographers.com/) . Don’t let sessions and events HAPPEN to you- take control.
"Kill your children"- in other words, learn to cull. Learning to be ruthless and only give your clients the VERY BEST images is one of the hardest things to learn- but it’s also the quickest way to improve. Be heartless. Delete. Delete again.
Learn to edit without needing actions (even if you decide LATER to use actions- once you’ve ALREADY learned to do it manually) (http://www.creativelive.com/catalog/all?qt=&price=0&sort=1&page=1&qd=lightroom, http://www.creativelive.com/catalog/all?qt=&price=0&sort=1&page=1&qd=photoshop). Explore tools that streamline your work- they will save you time and money, far beyond what you pay for them. (http://www.camerabits.com/, http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom.html)
Join FB groups for photographers. Give, don’t just take. Befriend your “competition”. Help them. Love them. Support them. You will gain so much more from your connections with other photographers than you ever could by being closed-fisted or seclusive.
Get a REAL photography website (http://www.themoderntog.com/beginners-guide-to-creating-a-pro-photography-website). Learn SEO. Keep learning it. “If you build it, they will come” is a LIE.
Learn to make your website the BEST website among your competitors- the best one your potential client has ever seen. (http://psychologyforphotographers.com/irresistible-website) Blog. Blog more. Streamline your blogging. (http://blogstomponline.com/)
>DON’T- and I mean this- DON’T become one of those photographers that blame “cheap” photographers for causing them to book less clients. That’s a cop out, and it will kill your business. If you’re losing business to the “$10 per session” guy, the problem is YOU. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/443890265645600/permalink/633121793389112/)
Keep the love alive. Set boundaries. Value family and your personal time. Find ways to streamline.
Keep asking questions. Always ask questions.
Oh! And when you “arrive”… take time to give back.