Jim Harmer is the founder, owner and content creator for the super popular and terrifically successful website, blog and podcast, Improve Photography. In this interview Jim shares his thoughts, ideas and tactics for leaving a real job to start a photography business even though he wasn't entirely sure what genre he was going to specialise in.
In the interview, you'll hear that Jim had almost completed his law degree and was set to earn a potentially fantastic income practicing law. It wasn't until near completion of his degree that he realised becoming a lawyer was not something that he really wanted and that photography was his real passion.
Fast forward to the present and Jim is making a fantastic income from something he truly loves… photography. Although his true love is landscape photography, Jim gave both wedding and portrait photography a try but realised it just wasn't for him. Knowing that landscape photography was always going to be a challenge to secure a good income, Jim focussed on teaching photography and now lives, breathes and has a profitable photography business.
In the interview, Jim focuses on that transition in to his photography business, finding his niche and why he went on to sit (and pass) his Bar exam.
If leaving a day job is something you're considering, you need to hear this interview before making any rash decisions.
Here's some more of what we cover:
- Why and how Jim left a full time and potentially very well paying job to follow his passion and become a photographer
- Why Jim moved onto teaching photography and helping up and coming photographers on when to turn professional
- He is more passionate about landscape and fine art photography but does portrait sometimes to try new things
- He realised that being a wedding photographer is not something he enjoyed so he switched to educating people online about wedding photography
- If you have a passion for a certain genre of photography, you can make that a viable source of income if you can add a commercial flair to your imagery
- Creating a following for your work is the surest way to build a successful business and it starts with being social
- Jim's advice to start up photographers; jump in and get some experience but be honest with the work that you are producing
- Why established photographers have no right to complain about the industry being full of new and competing photographers
- Why no photographer should be offended if a client asks for the RAW copies of their photos
- The silly business practices that established photographers continue with
- Why experienced photographers need to continue to make clients happy and stand out from the new photographers if they want to stay profitable
- Photographers who please their clients can get away with charging a premium for their services
- Strategies to know when and how to make the leap from your day job to become a full time photographer
- Why you always need to have a second stream of income or backup plan as a wedding or portrait photographer
- When and how to upgrade your photography equipment for maximum return and minimum loss
Following the interview with Jim, I'd like to think that you not only have more faith in taking the leap to do what you love for a living but also come away with some kind of a plan or strategy to make it work for you and your circumstances. One thing is certain, to be successful you will need to be committed, flexible and work damn hard.
What's on Offer for Premium Members
If you're a premium member, you should have received an email with links to your version of this episode where you can hear lots more implementable content from where we left off and started focusing on SEO for photographers. This is an area that Jim excels at and what he attributes his big break early on in his photography career.
Here's some of what Jim shares for premium members:
- SEO for your website URL and what you would be naming your website to get ranked
- Exactly what you need to write about to get found and ranked in Google
- The biggest SEO mistakes photographers make when writing their blog posts
- Why you should never be writing your blog posts for your clients or other photographers
What is your big takeaway?
Following this interview, I'd love to know what your biggest takeaway is – what is the one thing that you'd like to implement or learnt from what was shared? Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.
If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you'd like to ask or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them below.
If you'd like an easy way to show Jim your thanks, and support for the show at the same time, click the link to create a tweet and automatically let him know you're listening: https://photobizx.com/tweet
NEW Video and Audio Transcription Service
It's apparent after listening to guests on the photography podcast like James Schramko, Gabriel Machuret, Matt and Katie plus others, that video on your website is a great way to differentiate yourself, to get your personality across and super helpful for SEO and getting your website ranking higher.
The other big point is that it's not difficult to do – all you need is your phone, a mic, and something to talk about, teach or share.
Once your video is uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo you can create links to your website or blog which helps your site's SEO.
You'll also want to transcribe your audio to add both closed captions with your video and as a transcript on your blogpost. It's this text that really helps Google to “understand” your message and rank your post and video relevance for different search terms.
Now you can have your video/audio transcribed quickly and without fuss by my staff. Simply email me a link to your video and once transcribed, you'll have a plain text document emailed back few days later.
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Send in your questions for Matt and Steve
In the last couple of episodes I mentioned I'll be having both Steve Saporito and Matt Ebenezer (of Matt and Katie Photographers) back on the podcast to answer YOUR questions.
I've started to receive some questions but am looking for a lot more. This is your chance to ask a photography business related question that specifically applies to you and your business. Do not miss this opportunity to hear two different points of view from two different experts in the field of photography.
Steve, better known as the Portrait Doctor is a working studio transformer who knows his stuff when it comes to turning a studio into a profit making machine.
Matt and Katie have been one of the most popular interviews I've done on the show and are working photographers and workshop hosts.
I'll collate the questions and ask both Matt and Steve the same questions on different episodes to get a different perspective from both. Neither of them will have heard the others answers. It should be fun.
The Resources Page
Remember the ever expanding resources page that has a listing of products, programs, hardware, books and directories mentioned in each episode of the show. If you’re looking for something that a guest has mentioned on a previous episode but just can’t remember who or what it was – you’ll find it listed in order on the resources page.
iTunes ratings, reviews and Shout-Outs
Each week before recording the podcast I check iTunes for any reviews and each week I'm excited to see what you've had to say about the podcast. This week I was blown away to see five fantastic reviews! Thanks you so much to:
Liz Lui Photography from the United States – http://lizlui.com. Thanks for your lovely comments Liz and I love your wedding photos from Istanbul – what a gorgeous city to marry and have photos done.
Torreys12 from the United States – Hey Torrey, you have to let me low your website URL so I can add a link and check out who you are and what you do.
Oswald M from New Zealand – same for you Oswald, let me know your website URL, I'd love to know more about you.
Shelby Oliver Photography in the United States – http://shelby-oliver.com. Thanks Shelby – I'm sure your sales background combined with your gorgeous photos will see you find success.
Sincerely, thanks so much for your ratings and reviews, I appreciate the time you've taken and it's a big help for the show. It's these iTunes reviews that make a big difference to the podcast being ranked well and found in the iTunes store. If you have the time and are happy to leave an honest rating and review, head over to iTunes.
Don't feel your comments have to be long, involved or gushy, an honest opinion is all I ask. Don't be shy about leaving your business name in the review either – that way I can add a link in the show-notes and show my appreciation with a proper thanks and a Google loving back-link to your website.
Get in Touch or Leave a Voicemail Message
If you'd like to get in touch, ask a question or make a suggestion for the show, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Twitter https://twitter.com/andrewhellmich or on Facebook at https://photobizx.com/facebook – I'd love to hear from you!
Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:
Jim's Website, Improve Photography: http://improvephotography.com/
Jim on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ImprovePhotography
Jim on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/improvephotography
Jim on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/improvephoto/
Jim on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+JimHarmer
The Improve Photography Podcast in iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/improve-photography/id575358022
Online Photography Classes: http://photoclasses.com/
That's it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!
If you've been enjoying the podcast, I'd love for you to tell another photographer about it – it could be in a Facebook Group you're a part of, a photography forum, with a photographer friend or on twitter.
If you do have a twitter account, simply click here: https://photobizx.com/tweet or use the share buttons below.
Thanks and speak soon