I got a message last week from an up and coming photographer – check it out:
“…do you think that breaking into this business and making a reasonable wage is still an option given the market saturation and the number of established photographers who appear to be suffering?”
Short answer – of course.
Long answer – one person’s failure does not dictate your failure. Period. I don’t care if other people are failing. I’ll be honest, when I got into the business things were easier. The economy was doing really well, middle-class folks were really treating themselves, and it became very cool to spend a lot on photography and weddings. You didn’t have to be great at everything, you just had to be good enough and interesting enough. I’ll say it again, it was WAY easier.
And yes, circumstances are harder now. There is more competition, and the economy is worse. It isn’t necessarily as cool to spend a lot on your photography or wedding. That does not mean that it isn’t possible to make a reasonable living, it just means that it is harder.
It is harder because you now have to be great at everything. You have to have good work. You have to have amazing service. You have to pour yourself into marketing. You have to be attentive, easy to work with, and compelling. And you have to do the hard work. You have to have a consistent and compelling brand. You have to get out from behind your computer and actually network with people. You have to do the hard stuff that most people don’t want to do, or are afraid to try.
People aren’t struggling or going out of business because it isn’t possible to make a good living, they are having a hard time because a lot of what you have to do to be compelling enough to consistently hire at a profitable price point isn’t fun, or sexy, or easy. So what, if you want to make it work you have to do the hard stuff.
If you don’t want to do the hard stuff, don’t get into a creative business right now. If you don’t want to keep learning what you don’t yet know and mastering it, don’t go into business. If you don’t want to struggle and have your job continue to get harder the longer you do it, then don’t go into business.
This is a good thing. The difficulty will hopefully cause some attrition. Many people just aren’t willing to do the hard work and keep doing it. There is this strange perception that at some point you’ll become successful and everything will get easier. That simply isn’t true – you’ll always be struggling and working to make ends meet and the higher you want to go the harder everything gets. If you’re up for that, you can certainly make a nice living – a ton of people are proving that daily.
It is good to be back. Thanks