5 Tips to Help You Start a Successful Boudoir Business

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When I first started my photography business, I did everything – weddings, family portraits, you name it.

But I wasn't happy.

In fact, I was miserable.

So, a few years after I started my business, I decided to completely quit doing weddings (and most other types of photography) to focus on boudoir/glamour. I wrote about my decision to quit weddings here.

I didn't just quit cold turkey, though. I slowly transitioned to my new life as a boudoir photographer, and I set up safety nets so that I could be sure that I would be able to pay my bills every month.

Today, I couldn't be happier. Quitting weddings was one of the best decisions I ever made!

If you're thinking about starting a boudoir photography business or if you want to make boudoir a bigger part of your business than it currently is, here are five things I recommend doing:

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1. Set goals for your business.

I recently spoke with a photographer who was struggling, but when I asked her some hard questions about money, she didn't know the answers.

It's hard to be successful if you kick the football without being able to see the goal posts.

We often think about goals in a really wishy-washy way, almost like New Year's resolutions. Who actually keeps those resolutions?? Nobody!

Goals should be specific. “Be successful as a boudoir photographer” isn't a goal. It's a dream or a wish. A goal is something that you can actively try to achieve, like “Book ten boudoir clients per month” or “Make an average of $2000 per shoot over the next six months.”

Most goals involve a number. If your goal doesn't have at least one number in it, it's probably not a very good goal. Get more specific.

Think about what you need to make in order for your business to survive. Then, think about what you need to make in order for your business to be successful. Set goals based on these numbers.

More importantly

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2. Look before you leap.

Goals are just the first step. Next, you need to put a plan in place to reach those goals.

Namely, you need a business plan. Your business plan is going to be your blueprint for success.

Business plans essentially allow you to look before you leap. To create a great business plan, you need to really spend a lot of time researching and planning your business. So, as you're creating the business plan, you are making sure that doing boudoir is actually a viable option, and that you understand any challenges to this path.

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3. Figure out pricing based on your expenses.

It's a mistake to just pull your prices out of thin air. I know it takes a little longer, but you have to be able to make a living. So picking a price that just “sounds good” is not a great idea.

Think about your studio costs. Think about the money you pay your assistants, contractors, or other people. Think about your goals. Make sure that you're paying yourself, not just putting money back into your business.

Do a little market research to find out what other boudoir photographers in your area are charging…but don't feel like you have to price yourself the same way. You don't have to be the cheapest photographer to get business. Just make sure that what you are offering makes the price you charge a great value for clients.

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4. Make friends.

It takes a village to raise a baby. A baby business, that is.

What I mean to say is that you can't succeed in business all by yourself. You need to think about how you can partner with others to start to grow your business.

Start to get to know not only other photographers, but also other business owners in different industries. For example, I've partnered with hair salons to cross-promote; I send them clients for hair and makeup, they send me clients who want to book shoots.

Consider using Meetup to find business networking groups in your neighborhood, and attend events to network with like-minded people. Help one another grow by working together to promote your businesses.

Remember, you don't have to be in this alone!

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5. Focus.

Finally, remember that to grow any business (or any part of your business), you need to focus. If you want your boudoir business to grow, you need to work on growing it, which is hard to do if your mind is preoccupied with weddings, family portraits, and other parts of your photography business.

If you don't want to give up the other stuff completely, consider breaking off your boudoir business so it has a separate name and you can come up with a separate marketing strategy. Give it the time it deserves, so it can thrive.

Otherwise, it can be really hard to grow your boudoir business because your time is devoted to the types of photography you don't love.

I know it can be scary to take time away from the part of your business that is paying the bills, but if you don't, the part of the business you love will never grow.

Now, I want to know: What is your biggest fear about quitting other types of photography to focus on boudoir? Leave a comment!

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Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.