April 6, 2011
A couple months ago I wrote an article about starting a part-time photography business from home. I started this venture because a problem presented itself: Blank walls in my doctor’s office and I had a solution – pictures taken at interesting locations including Niagara Falls, Vienna, Zurich, etc. After discussing with the physician, I contacted my accountant and asked about the business structure and what I should record for tax purposes.
Before putting my photos on display, I started immediately on branding my business. My first steps included a name for the business – fotosbydion – and reserving the domain name for website sales. After considerable thought, I changed the business name to Stepping Stone Studios; it mirrors the title of one of my best pictures and a feature of the website’s home page. Domain name reservation through GoDaddy and free email via gmail was a consideration in the naming process. The business name had to available for domain and email; my first choices were taken. Though my original choice was to use Etsy as my sales outlet – it is a very low cost service – I wanted more of a professional image that a dedicated website reflects.
One of my original plans was to exhibit at local art and/or craft shows and gain additional exposure and business. While that is still a possibility, the late winter shows were filled and I wanted to do some research on possible competition at these events. I needed to see if a customer base for my product was present, if other photographers were participating, and get an idea of pricing.
I also wanted to have the permanent on-display pieces framed by a professional; I contacted a wonderfully talented framer – Julie Novak – I’ve used in the past for personal reasons. After many back and forth trips between our houses, we have some real showcase pieces that I am very pleased with. Contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the shows I attended are probably not appropriate for my work, I was fortunate and found the name of a graphic designer to work with. I looked at her portfolio, contacted her and now have a logo for Stepping Stones – something that will add a professional touch to my business cards and other marketing material. Lindsay has a reasonable billing rate, listens well, works quickly, and is quite thorough. I am very pleased to be working with her – she will be a very valuable resource for any future project. Contact Lindsay at email@example.com
Our first face-to-face – virtually via Skype video chat – was this evening where we covered next steps for both parties. I need to provide her with products (photos), divided into specific categories, and related pricing; Lindsay has committed to producing a couple of mock-ups (sample pages) within days. I will provide previews and links of her work in future postings and examples of pricing worksheets as this business develops.
By Dion D Shaw
Dion Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs and Stepping Stone Studios