If you are just starting your career in Equestrian photography, you will need to be ready to promote yourself to shows, ranches, private horse owners and the like. If you are just starting out, you may not have a ton of cash to spend. Read on for a quick start guide to Business Self Promotion on a budget!
What do I need to start?
The first thing you will need is a business name! There are many great names you can think of for horse photography, but many are taken or just over used! Come up with a list of ten names, then do a Godaddy domain search: GoDaddy Search Tool and see what’s available. You may get an idea from the variations or suggestions the search tool will make. Family and friends will love to pitch in their ideas for your new business name. Find a good, clean and easy to remember name. Not too long or confussing like Kung Fu Horse photography…WHAT?
Use the KISS rule (keep it simple stupid!) and make sure it’s not taken! Then reserve that domain quickly (we get all our domains via GoDaddy) as the next time you login to purchase, someone may have snapped it up!
I have a Business Name…what do I need Next?
In my opinion, if you are going to be in business as a photographer, you must have two things. One is a business card. The other is a website. Photography is a visual art and you must be able to show your work somewhere! If you can’t put together enough cash to print a $30 run of cards… beg borrow or steal…ok, don’t steal. But get the $30 and start your business- even if it means skipping that morning latte for a week! If you can’t afford a website yet or you don’t have quite enough work to show, you can create a Facebook business page or Instagram page for FREE and have your work up somewhere that you can send someone to look at it. For the most credibility, you should have a real website to go on your business card. Start with a smaller run of cards, include your social media links and then later, once your website is launched, reprint.
But I don’t know how to make a website!
That’s OK! We have built our own websites for over 9 years now, mostly using wordpress. This knowledge didn’t come overnight and it wasn’t easy! Sitting in libraries at night doing tutorials and mini courses on website building after long days of photographing horses in the sun, wind & dust was no picnic. I would say to plan on a year of study before you can build a functional website that is professional, attractive and doen’t look amateur. Yep, it’s a lot of hard work… But fear not, we have a better suggestion to get you going and it’s called “SmugMug”Get SmugMug here!
When we started our equine photography business, we had heard about SmugMug from a fellow photographer friend. We checked it out, did the free trial and were hooked! That was 10+ years ago and SmugMug has even more features and is even better than when we used it.
You can have your name & contact info including your logo on their beautiful platform. There is a nice place for your portfolio, your best images showing your “skillz” as an equestrian photographer. You can also sell your artsy horse images and price your prints at whatever you choose. SmugMug takes a small percentage of your order as their service fee and they handle all the printing and shipping. It’s almost passive income after you set it all up.
Horse Show images or portrait sales. You can also put your show photos or portraits up on SmugMug and create private galleries and give people a link to see just their images on your website. You will set your print prices and they will order from your site, again, you don’t have to do anything once your images are up and prices set.
We used SmugMug for three years until we learned to build our own websites and added building websites as another service we offered in our photography business. But I will admit, the functionality of SmugMug is really attractive and if we hadn’t gone down the “learn to create websites” road, I don’t think we would have ever left. The platform today is so beautiful and stylish. You can start with their Basic site for only $6.00 per month and save more when you pay yearly. When you can, upgrade to Business and have every feature you could ever need for only $360 for the year, that’s like a dollar a day!
You can try them out for free. You can’t lose here. Set up is easy, even for someone without web building experience. Check em out here, you won’t be disappointed! Try SmugMug for 14 days for FREE
You must have Business card…
So now you have a great Website (SmugMug) with your portfolio and your important info. Now you are ready to make or reprint that business card with your new website added. If you are a photographer and you have some design skills, you can make your own photo card which is really easy, and people like it. You want to choose a very clean horse image, one that reads well in 2”x3”. That’s right, two inches tall, three inches long. That’s a business card. So don’t choose a cluttered image!
Back in the day when I did weddings…I used a tight flower shot with hands & rings as my photo business card. It was really nice and I wish I had it to show you! But for our horse photography, we opted for text logos as they were cleaner and easier to read than a photo. I have included some examples for you to get some ideas.
What should be on my business card?
You must check off this list of info to have on your card. Have these things and nothing more! Your card is NOT a brochure. You need to have the following:
- Name (first & last)
- Phone (with area code) it’s a big world out there!
- Website (www. is fine)
- Email (it should match your website domain if possible)
- Social media links (if you use them)
- If you are doing two sided cards (our favorite), mailing address can go on the back with Social media links.
Do I need a Logo?
A logo is a great way to brand yourself and your business. A logo can be a graphic like a horse head etc and text worked into the graphic. The whole design together becomes your logo. You can also have a text only logo and that can look really nice too. Just choose your design and then put it everywhere. You can upload it to your SmugMug website, your business card, your avatar, your email signature. Later, when you have more money to work with, you can place ads in appropriate magazines & websites uploading your logo and create your BRAND. People will begin to recognize your logo if you use it consistently, and that’s just what you are trying to achieve! Some name recognition to remind people about your great photography!
What’s a Tagline and should I have one?
A tagline is a little extra text you can add on to your Company name. It’s like a “saying”. For example; Burger King’s tagline is “have it your way”. Allstate Insurance’s tagline is… say it with me… “you’re in good hands” with Allstate. You will have to find a catchy tagline to go with your business name, and you may hold off until one really grabs you, then add it. Bounce names off friends and family to get an idea of what is memorable and fun. Then use it in all your promo material!
Do I need a brochure and what should it say?
Horse photography can be very lukerative and many affluent people own horses and like to spend money on their equine friends. That being said, it’s a little different than weddings and I would consider a few things before printing 1000’s of tri-fold brochures (the standard format). First question is where are you going to put these masterpiece brochures you painstakingly designed or paid to have designed? If you don’t have a place to put these beauties, maybe it’s not worth the doe for now. When you are working a horse show you can pass out cards and point people to your website (your online brochure). They can put the 2×3 card in their pocket as they sit on their horse. But what will they do with a tri-folded glossy brochure?
If you are doing a show and have a booth, well then you have a place to have brochures about your other offerings like custom equine portraits. That works. We did a few brochures in our day, but eventually created ½ sized flyers to promote our portraits at shows. Guys, they are gonna fold them up anyways. Why waste all that time and $$$ when they just want the info. Horse folks are generally pragmatic and a nice ½ sized flyer with the info will do the trick! And you get two flyers from a normal 8.5×11 paper, a big savings when printing in full color!
Using a designer or DIY
We are so fortunate to have our own onsite designer, my husband Flash- both designer and photographer extraordinaire! He actually went to college for graphic design and we have never had to hire a designer for our businesses. He also has taught me much over the years and now I too create much of our promotional material. If you have someone with strong design skills, pay them to create something for you. Freebies are generally worth what you paid for…$0! We suggest not supporting the recent explosion of websites offering logos and graphic design work for stupid cheap prices. As a photographer asking for money for their images, pay it forward and pay a real designer for their skills and get a logo that stands out from the crowd!
When do I need a Banner?
If you are doing an art show, selling your artsy equine imagery, you will want a large banner to go across the top of your booth tent. The little pink flyer with your booth number tacked on the side of your booth won’t really cut it for announcing your presence.
If you do horse shows, you will definitely need a banner there too. We have several different banners we use depending on the type of show we are doing. This way we can direct people to a specific website that shows off whatever it was we are selling. Maybe it’s fine art, western events or english horse events. We have corresponding websites for each different event we work.
Where do I get my stuff printed?
Cards, flyers, banners, CD jackets… where do you get all this stuff printed once you have the designs? We have used and swear by the online printshop,
PS Print; PS Print for all your printing needs!
Because horse shows, art shows and the like are usually travel to destinations. You want an online printer where you can upload your image and boom… more cards on the way. OR you needed to make a tweak to your banner, upload and get it in a day or two. If you have paid for designs, have your designer save your files in a way that you can easily identify them and have your print ready files on hand. You don’t want to call your designer and tell him you need 300 more cards for a show and find out he’s out of cell signal and you are out of luck!
Being prepared is golden in this face paced biz!
So there you have it, it’s not so complicated! Pick a name, fire up SmugMug and upload some business cards to PS Print. That will get you a long way. You can add banners, flyers and create ads for print media later. Step by step, you will get there! For more info on the business side of equine photography, read: http://www.betterhorsephotography.com/operate-successful-horse-show-photography-business/ Best of luck! Now go on and get started!
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