6 Tips to Help You Start a Successful Newborn Photography Business

So, you’ve decided to become a full-time photographer specializing in newborn and baby photography. Perhaps, you had a full-time job doing something else and are now committed to transforming your part-time passion into a full-time vocation. Or perhaps, you’re a photography graduate fresh out of art school. Regardless of how you’ve come to this decision, you want to succeed in this highly competitive niche working for yourself.

mother and baby photo

photo by Phalinn Ooi

While you may have the talent, skills, and expertise needed to succeed in this field, starting a successful newborn and baby photography business can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Check out the following tips to help you begin your journey.

1. Be ready to run your business from the ground up.

Yes, you’re a passionate and creative artist, but to succeed as a freelancer in a competitive niche, you also have to be a smart entrepreneur. Starting your own business will require you to wear many hats and master additional skills. You have to be a customer service representative, marketing director, bookkeeper, social media expert, PR specialist, website builder, administrative assistant, financial manager, and a CEO.

baby detail photography

photo by Harsha K R

As you grow your business, you’ll eventually have the means to delegate responsibilities that are outside your main job description to trusted professionals. But as a start-up, it pays to learn how to run your business from the ground up.

2. Set clear business goals and create a buyer persona.

No business will succeed without clearly defined business goals. You’ll have to work out how many hours a week you’d like to work, how much money you’ll need to set aside for various expenses, and how much money you’ll need to make annually to ensure that your business stays profitable. Consider purchasing home business software to help you set your schedule, budget, and revenue goals.

More importantly, you’ll need to define your target market. During the first few months, you may have to be less picky when choosing clients, as you are still establishing your business and growing your reputation. However, as time goes by, you will need to focus on attracting the right clients if you want to keep your business profitable.

You will need to create a buyer persona, which is a fictional and generalized representation of your ideal customer. By creating a buyer persona, you can attract the right clients to your business more easily and weed out clients who cannot afford you, who do not share your values or aesthetic goals, and who might be too far away from your location.

3. Create pricing packages, draft contract templates, and get the right insurance.

You need to know how much to charge your clients for your services. Moreover, your rates shouldn’t be significantly higher or lower than what other photographers in your area are charging. To set fair rates, find out how much other newborn and baby photographers in your area are charging.

You’ll also need to draft contract templates to ensure the smooth operation of your business and outline all expectations ahead of time.

Your contract templates should include the following:

  • Final sales agreement. This contract is signed on the shooting day and informs the client of a final sale. This contract also waives any cooling off laws that allow a client to change his or her mind.
  • Album design agreement. Producing an album for a client can cost you hundreds of dollars. Signing this agreement means that the client has accepted the proof prior to ordering the album.
  • Product delivery agreement. By signing this agreement, the client agrees that he has received all the commissioned products from you.
  • Portrait contract and model release. This contract governs the relationship between you and your clients. It also covers provisions like completion schedules and ordering deadlines.

Just as important as the actual contract is the need to protect yourself and your clients with the right insurance coverage. You’ll need to budget roughly $500 to $2,000 annually for property liability and other types of business insurance.

4. Purchase the right photography gear, props, editing software, and other items.

As a newborn and baby photographer, you’ll generally be doing two types of photography: posed/studio photography and lifestyle photography. For posed/studio sessions, you could convert part of your home into a professional studio. Alternatively, you can rent a studio space for photo shoots.

Aside from securing the proper studio space for your business, you’ll also need to purchase the right photography gear, props, editing software, and additional items to make your job easier. All these are available on online photography stores like Adorama, so it will no longer be a problem. But it’s important to purchase only what you need. Photography gear can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars, and you wouldn’t want to make the mistake of investing in expensive gear you’ll never use.

Props are also expensive, which is why it’s important that you invest in the right ones. It’s best to keep them basic at the start and slowly build up your prop collection as you gain more experience (and revenue).

Props you should consider investing in include:

  • Beanbags
  • Throws
  • Hats
  • Headbands
  • Blankets
  • Baby-safe baubles and accessories

Never use breakable, flammable, or toxic props that might endanger the newborn in any way.

As for editing software, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom are industry standards, though other commercial software is available for you to consider.

You’ll also need to invest in the following additional accessories:

  • Backdrop stands and clamps
  • A space heater (to keep the temperature in the studio adequate for the newborn)
  • Audio equipment that emits white noise (to avoid startling the newborn with your camera’s shutter sound)

5. Build your brand and portfolio.

To market your business successfully, you’ll need to create a strong visual brand identity. The visual elements found in your logo, website, and stationery need to be crafted specifically to appeal to expecting mothers, parents, as well as young children.

newborn photo shoot

photo by Gabriel Pinto

Natural/rustic imagery, soft pastel colors, and other maternal visual elements are appropriate for your branding. To ensure polished results, consult a graphic designer to help you craft your visual brand identity.

You’ll need to build an equally strong portfolio to impress prospective clients. Build and edit your portfolio carefully over time, as it is one of your business’s main marketing tools. As for showcasing your portfolio, consider uploading it to your website, posting it on your social media profiles (especially Facebook and Pinterest), and printing physical albums or brochures to show to clients on-site.

6. Focus on word-of-mouth marketing and digital marketing.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective means of gaining new clients and growing your business. By producing excellent work, delivering products on time, and treating newborns and their parents with patience and respect, you’ll increase your chances of getting positive reviews from your clients. They’ll willingly refer you to other parents, who will then contact you for inquiries and bookings.

baby and parents

photo by Kristin Banks

As valuable as word-of-mouth marketing is digital marketing. Aside from maintaining an up-to-date business website, you also need to have up-to-date social media profiles on key platforms like Facebook and Pinterest. By maintaining a dynamic online presence, you’ll grow your network and, as a result, garner more new clients for your business.

Lastly, you should consider hiring a reputable digital marketing agency to help you grow your business. Digital marketing agencies use a variety of tactics—such as search engine optimization, paid advertising, blogging, and social media marketing—to promote your business online. A carefully planned digital marketing strategy can source new leads and prospects for your business. These leads and prospects can then be nurtured and converted into clients.

baby with dad

photo by Taro Taylor

There’s an old adage that says, “Never work with children or animals.” Fortunately, for millions of parents out there, photographers who specialize in newborn portraiture are happy to prove that saying wrong. Babies may not always be the easiest subjects to capture, but the challenges of photographing newborns are what make it so rewarding—and lucrative. Whether you’re a professional going into a new niche or a hobbyist turning a part-time passion into a full-time vocation, you’ll have a booming baby photography business in no time at all by combining your technical skills and business savvy with a good understanding of babies (and their parents!).

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