One of the most important photography business tips is to never go at it alone. As a creative type, I sometimes find myself falling into the trap of thinking that I have to work all by myself in order to really get my business to where I want it to be, but the truth is that one of the best ways to learn how to grow your photography business is by working with other local businesses.
This is especially true if you can manage to propose a business partnership with an already well-established business in your local community. While networking can really be a drag, it’s important. Business partnerships allow you to reach more potential clients than you otherwise would have and they also allow you to have somebody to ask questions to and run ideas by.
While my wife loved hearing all of my ideas for my business when I first started it, there were only so many date nights that she would tolerate me strictly talking about business. Once I got a few business partnerships, I was better able to leave my work at work.
This guide to business partnerships for photographers is going to walk you through why business partnerships are good for your photography business, some questions you should be thinking about when choosing your partners, and the best way to propose partnerships for photographers.
Business partnerships for photographers provide you with a ton of benefits, many of which you may not think of when you first think about starting a partnership.
Obviously, the number one greatest benefit of starting business partnerships for photographers is that they provide us with a true sense of companionship. It was an especially rough year in 2020 for almost every photographer I know. The ones that were best able to deal with this added stress were the ones who had other local business owners that they could talk to. While 2021 is already starting off much better, a lot of us are still under strict stay at home orders. It’s nice to struggle together.
Another reason why business partnerships for photographers are so beneficial is that they open up a whole new marketing world to you.
Depending upon what type of partnership you’re proposing, the other business likely already has a brick-and-mortar store, which means that they are doing well enough to maintain a steady client stream. They’ve essentially put in all of the hard work of finding clients and convincing them to use their business above all other businesses in the area. Those clients likely really trust that company.
By working with that company, you’re borrowing their brand name. If that business is trusted by a specific client and they recommend you, then that client is going to be far more willing to work with you than if you had found them randomly.
This is also a great way to find out whether your business is offering everything that potential clients are asking for.
Finding good business partnerships for photographers is stressful. To be honest, it’s a little bit like dating. You need to know exactly what you’re looking for and then you need to go out and shop around for it.
So, the first step any photographer needs to take when forming business partnerships for photographers is making a list of potential partners in your area.
You only want to work with businesses that are already working with your target client base. If you take the time building relationships with businesses that aren’t working with your target client base, then you’re wasting your time and you’re wasting the time of other business owners in your area.
You’ll also want to pick businesses that are located close to you and close to your client base.
Let’s say you are a wedding photographer in Phoenix, AZ. It would make sense to build relationships with wedding planners, florists, and bakeries in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe, but it would make less sense to build relationships with businesses in Tucson. While you may find yourself traveling a few hours for certain events, this likely won’t happen enough for it to make sense to build relationships with businesses in distant cities.
So, if you are a newborn or maternity photographer then you may want to build relationships with birthing centers or hospitals in your area, as well as with baby boutiques. If you’re a wedding photographer, then reach out to caterers, DJs and wedding venues. If you’re a boudoir photographer, then work with spas or salons.
Once you’ve found some local businesses you’d like to work with, the next step is to propose a formal affiliation.
Most business tips for photographers suggest that you include any of the following terms in a business partnership proposal:
There are other suggestions that you can make. The important thing is that you build a proposal with agreeable terms for both parties. You should discuss all of the terms in-person before sending any legal documents.
However, you should definitely be sending legal documents. While you can be affiliated with other companies in your area on a handshake basis, I definitely don’t suggest it, especially since an affiliation agreement is so easy to put together.
You’ll need to include the following information in your affiliation agreement:
An affiliation agreement is especially important if the affiliation includes any transfer of money, like in the case of referral fees. You would hate to miscommunicate somewhere along the line and for someone to feel like they got left out.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most of these tips for photographers are flexible. Make any potential agreements work for you.
One of the most no-brainer partnerships you can forge is with local companies that will display your photos.
Think about it...the local coffee shop, law office, gallery, and furniture store have a need for art on their walls. Why not see if YOUR art can be what they display?
It’s great exposure for your work and it gives local businesses beautiful images to hang on their walls. It’s a win-win!
Of course, you need to supply them with high-quality prints that are durable and look fantastic, and for my money, that means investing in canvas prints.
I just love the look of canvas. There’s something about the texture of it that makes the images I have printed look that much more rich and detailed.
As our 2020 Canvas Print Shootout demonstrated, though, not all canvas prints are alike. If you want to forge partnerships with local businesses, you need to have the best canvas prints to offer them - and CanvasHQ is the place to get them.
I’ve been a CanvasHQ customer for years, and they earned my loyalty with top-notch products, excellent customer service, and a dedication to crafting high-quality prints.
From archival-quality canvas to hand-made frames to professional-grade inks, CanvasHQ only uses the best materials to create your canvas.
They’ll give you advice on how to edit or crop your image for the most impact. They’ll also recommend the perfect size of print to match your image. And if something goes awry, they’ll make sure you’re taken care of.
I’ve gotten a lot of canvas prints over the years from a lot of different companies, and none have been able to match the quality of a CanvasHQ print. But don’t take my word for it - check out CanvasHQ today!