Carol Freeman started Carol Freeman Photography in 2003 in Glenview, Illinois.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
I am a full time nature photographer, specializing in photographing endangered species. My website is Carol Freeman Photography.
What were you doing before you started your photography business?
Prior to this I owned my own Graphic Design Company, called Freeman Design, which I started in 1990. I had the opportunity to combine my graphic design skills with photography during this time. In 2003 I sold the graphic design business in order to be able to pursue my love of nature photography.
Who did you hire to help you?
One of the first things I did was hire a bookkeeper. There are so many things to do when you own your own business, I was grateful to not have to learn bookkeeping on top of everything else. I also have a lawyer to help with creating incorporation papers etc. I also have an accountant who does my tax return every year. And another great thing I did was to hire a cleaning lady!
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
I am working out of my home for now. Advantages are low overhead, great commute, I can set my own hours, and easy to take that afternoon nap.
Disadvantages, hard to have customers "stop by", nowhere to have a "store" that showcases my products, and I always have work around. I'd love to have a gallery where I can sell products and have an office in the back. Ideally I'd also have someone run the gallery so I would not have to be there full time and could still spend as much time as I like taking photos.
Have you hired additional staff?
I have been fortunate to have had several student interns. They often have great skills and can be an asset to the company while learning new skills. My greatest challenge is finding motivated people who would like to be commissioned sales people.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
One of the biggest surprises was the business I have gotten from my flickr site. I also have clients now who regularly check out my site, pick photos they want, and ask me to send them the invoice! It is a real time saver and a great way to get my work seen by new markets.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Become educated in business, graphics and photography before beginning.
Sounds like a beautiful business, Carol. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with me.