Q. I want to start my own photo restoration business how did you do it?
Starting a photo restoration business
Starting a photo restoration business is relatively simple to do but it does take planning. The first I did was form a business plan even before I had a name. You can go to your local small business help centre or a free seminar on starting your own business. This should give you a good starting point on how to develop your plan.
Make sure you have the photo restoration skills before you start! Ensure that you can sit above the rest when it comes to your workmanship and that you go the extra mile to be the best. Without providing quality work then there are many other photo restoration businesses out there that will get your customers through reputation and word of mouth or written reviews (I will talk about these later)
Next, decide if you are going to do your own accounts or have someone do them for you. Hopefully, you can do this yourself as you will have little or no funds to start with.
I then contacted the Inland Revenue and filled out the relevant forms for my new employment status, self-employed! It may be that you only do this part-time but you still need to declare the income to the Inland Revenue.
Already put off? Not surprised It is pretty scary setting up your own business.
The next step I took was to get a company name a logo and then a website. Buy your website name, something relevant like “photorestoration.com” this helps people find you and know what you do, “peterspictures.com” would not be such a good name as it doesn’t really say much about your main service. Your company name and website name should be the same. Buy yourself some webspace and decide what package to go for, with or without email, shopping or e-commerce site if you are hoping to sell frames and other image-related goods.
If you design one yourself then there is a learning curve on making sure that it is friendly for the search engines and that they will pick up the phrase “photo restoration”. You can use a template or an off the shelf site but you still have to optimise it, so that the search engines will find your fist.
This topic of SEO or search engine optimisation is a HUGE topic and can take much of your time as a start-up business. You should think of outsourcing this so you can concentrate on the other tasks involved with launching a photo restoration business. I designed mine myself and learned the long hard way that it wasn’t right for the engines but over time it evolved to abide by the web design rules and favour the search engines. Getting noticed on the web for the right reasons and will hopefully help you be seen above the 276,000,000 (two hundred and seventy-six million) results when you type “photo restoration” into Google.com
So now I had my website I had to promote it. This was done by creating original and engaging content, writing a blog, participating in forums, notice boards, writing web articles, entering competitions. Listing your business in business directories and exchanging web links with relevant partners on topics in tune with photo restoration. Avoid links that bear no relevance to photo restoring or photo restoration as they do not help at all. Make sure you have a “FaceBook” page, “Twitter” account, “LinkedIn”, “Pinterest” page and “Flickr” feed. Make sure you keep these up to date and input daily into them. Account Other strategies that I took were to read everything I could on promoting my business on the web, going to family history fairs, if your skills are worthy then Who Do You Think You Are? exhibition and other shows asking to put posters up around the local area and advertising on local radio.
Making sure you get online reviews is another good idea, to get them through your work has to be good and then people are going to want to say something nice about you. The more you get the more people will find you! Don’t fake these, even this can be spotted in today’s ever-increasing technological age. Don’t steal others work either and pass it off as yours, the amount of cross-referencing that gets done by us vigilant restorers and search tools, you will get found out.
Be prepared to have your hard work copied, plagiarized and stolen. I have filed many copyright claims, this process takes up lots of time and if you don’t want your hard work to be downgraded in the search engines by Google because someone else has copied it, then file those claims. This is the most unfair part of the web. Your site will be penalized for producing duplicate content even though someone else did it. You may even have to sue for loss of earnings.
Invest in some hardware. Digital files and digital cameras and images are getting forever bigger. Buy a machine with at least 16GB RAM but go for 32GB and you should be future proof for a while. Never think you’ll need 32GB of RAM, think again. There will come a time when a client wants a big file restored, your machine won’t handle it without the RAM. You’ll then be restoring slowly if at all and the job will end up costing you more than you have been paid. Get a scanner, not an all in one printer scanner copier, you may as well just redraw the photo instead of scanning it, these produce truly terrible results. Get a dedicated scanner and a good one. You cant produce good results without it. TOP TIP get a Graphics Tablet, after purchasing mine and two days of practice my productivity went through the roof and I was able to take on much more work.
Unless you have unlimited funds you most likely will have to do all this yourself, if you still want to start your own photo restoration business and the above doesn’t put you off then good luck.
Get some business banking.
I’m not about harping on what you should and should not do with your money but I recently changed my business banking. Why? it was time for a change. The most significant observation was when it came to inserting “what your business is” into the relevant drop-down box.
When I applied to business banking way back when it had been filed under “photographic services” there was no option for “Photo retoucher”. Well, this time around the option was there and not only a photo retoucher but a combination of photo restoration and retouching! It amazed me as this occupation has obviously got so popular they even have a business banking category for it!
To all you fellow restoration artists and retouchers out there we now have a place in the system! It may be a bad thing for some but now I feel whole. I’m no longer a floater of trades in no set niche!.
Please don’t email me for advice on starting your own photo restoration business as I am not qualified to do so, talk to your business advisor and get help from your local small business centre and may your new photo restoration business thrive.
Good luck from the photo retouching and restoration man