To be sustainable at times I feel you have to dead or famous. I know that is a huge comment to make but in all honesty, at Paris photo the majority of images on display were from old photographs which to fair in a lot of cases weren't even great technical images. I have spoken to several people who believe that photography as we know it is dead. Sustainability not just be in a digital file or once it is sold you have nowhere to go. So what can you do to become a sustainable business?. Have a marketing plan, Facebook, Instagram, website to start then look at networking groups. I learned how to value my work. I often see on facebook groups from new and emerging photographers that they have a hard time talking about money with their clients. There is apparently a simple fix! Once you truly understand all the numbers involved in running a photography business – you will feel more comfortable charging for your time & artwork, so they say! How do you do this? Well you can create an excel spreadsheet and start figuring it all out, outgoings, incomings and what you need to make a profit, then bingo! you have a sustainable business, well 'plan' anyway. The rest is sheer determination and hard work, staying ahead of the game.
I didn’t just sell digital files. It is really, really hard to run a sustainable portrait or wedding photography business when you’re only selling files. It just is. The reason why? Because you can only sell a digital file once, and if you don’t charge enough for it, you’ll never make enough money to make a proper living. The traditional business model of selling prints is actually easier, because you can sell multiple copies of the same image (that’s how photographers always made money in this business) Bring in a simple line of products and use the files as an add-on sale.
Professional development is a key area, if you are not a trainer then you need to be training and constantly grow as an artist in the for ever changing field.
Always reply to enquiries, by telephone or email. I know a few people who leave voice messages and then get back to people days later. well if that was me I would have booked elsewhere.
Join a professional organisation. And be around other successful people who are building sustainable businesses. Meeting like-minded, photographers that are growing their business and craft in a sustainable way has such a positive effect on your business. It is also a great way to qualify who you’re getting business/technique advice from. Now keep in mind – joining an organisation is like getting a gym membership – you can’t complain about it not doing anything for you if you don’t use it! Which is where I am guilty of. i am a member of a few organisations and had just started to use them more when I started this MA, so I am hoping to pick them back up when I have time.
Then you have two different sustainable businesses, one where you work your butt off day in day out, for example instagram, you walk away and it all comes crashing down. Or you build a long term business that sustains itself by adopting a particular stance and being consistent. That is the key acording to Jackson Course on https://photography.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-build-a-sustainable-career-in-photography--cms-27051
Here is the bottom line, I'm 52 yrs old, work with very challenging children and want to get more out of photography but not in a financial sense. I'm done with the rat race, I don't want to compete, people either want to see my work or they don't. I want to produce great artwork. Exhibit. Get my message across, when and how I figure out what it is! Until then, I just want for people to see and enjoy my work would be a bonus.
There is also some good advice on this website. https://www.slrlounge.com/how-to-create-a-sustainable-photography-career-remaining-viable-among-market-shifts/