“I’ve been a portrait photographer for a number of years. Recently, a friend of mine became a real estate agent and she asked me to shoot a house for her. I could not believe how hard it was! But I loved it! I see that your site has a lot of resources but I’m not sure if I should give it a go. I live outside of Austin. Can you help?”
When I looked into becoming a professional photographer many years ago, I did a LOT of research into what variables were at play in being successful at it. Obviously, the quality of the images produced is a big factor but the most dominant theme that came up in my research was related to marketing effectiveness. I remember reading something from a very famous Canadian photographer who said (and I’m paraphrasing): "A mediocre photographer with great marketing skills will almost always be more successful than a world-class photographer with poor marketing skills."
So, my first bit of advice would be to reflect on how much effort and money you’re willing to put into marketing yourself. There are resources on PFRE that can help you in this regard and I’d encourage you to review them. Once you’ve reflected on this, another key element that you’ll need to think through is how much money you’ll need to make to ensure the success of your business. If you have not already worked through the “cost of doing business” as part of setting up your portraiture business, you might want to check out this excellent article (the first of two posts on this topic) by one of PFRE’s ongoing contributors, Garey Gomez.
The final variable I’ll mention (and I’m sure our readers will offer many more!) is related to your location. By using a resource like Google Trend, you can get info on the number of Google searches done on the term “real estate photography” including where that search originated. While it’s completely unscientific, it makes sense to me that if people are researching "real estate photography", then the odds are good that they’ll also be looking for a real estate photographer. While this might not be a key factor in your decision-making, it might act as a useful, if not interesting bit of information for you. That said Jennifer, you’ll be pleased to know that when I broke down the number of searches done for the term “real estate photography” by metropolitan area, I found that Austin, TX, ranked fifth in the US.
So, what other advice would you give Jennifer in helping her to make the decision to jump into the deep-end of professional real estate photography?
PS.: Here are some additional tidbits from my Google Trends review for “real estate photography”: