After ten years of messing around on photoshop and annoying people with my cameras, I've decided to try and make a couple of quid from the thing I love to do, taking photographs. I say decided but really I was pushed.......pretty hard, by the people around me and more importantly the dole office. Don't get me wrong, they've done a good job with helping me start up my own business through a scheme they call The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) which put me in touch with business advisers and helped me create a business plan. All whilst still receiving Dole (soon to be halved) so I haven't been completely thrown to the zombies with out a weapon in hand, sorry the new season of The Walking Dead has just started. When it comes to money making advice I might not be the absolute number one almighty, at this exact moment in time I've invested money and haven't made a penny but that's what you have to expect when starting such a business. I can however tell you what I've done and that information may help you if you try and do something similar.
Business Advisers - Personally I found it very helpful getting in touch with and meeting my local business advisor and best of all it was free. He helped me create a business plan and gave me information towards the legal side of starting a business. I also gained valuable experience in self presentation through pitching ideas to the adviser.
Volunteer Work - Most people hoping to work in any part of the visual industry will have to start by offering their services for free. I would recommend this route but do be careful, you don't want to devalue your service and it never takes long before people will start taking the piss. I've worked for free on a select few occasions which included a local Jubilee festival and a few shoots with a local band, all good experiences helping me to diversify my portfolio of work. DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID! Like an idiot I did my first volunteer work before I had done much in the way of self promotion so I had no business cards and no website set up (except for a facebook group) so get all that done first and at least appear to be a professional from the very start.
Self Promotion - There's no denying social networks are taking over the world making them a sensible place to start, it can't hurt letting your friends and family know what you're getting up to and maybe they'll send some work your way! There are also themed and professional networks such as Linkedin and Flickr which are worth joining and I would also recommend starting a blog on one of the many blogging sites. So far that's a fair bit of completely free promotion, hopefully internet search browsers will start noticing you by this point. The next thing you need to concentrate on is brand image, have you got your own logo and brand style? Luckily for me I have a graphic designer in the family who helped me out but there's nothing stopping you doing it yourself. The next thing I would recommend is to buy a domain name and website, you don't have to spend a tonne of money and it's pretty easy to do yourself with all the template design programs on the web. Once all of that is up and running you can make some business cards, once again this doesn't have to cost much money and is easy to do online. Make it to this point and you're on track to having your own business.
This post is turning into an essay and becoming boring to type and probably boring to read so I'll round it up at this point. I hope I help someone in some way and feel free to ask any questions. Who knows I might have made a pound by my next post! Good luck to anyone starting on their own path in the visual arts and take care of yourselves,