I’ve been asked many times how to go about moving a photography business. Mostly from other military wives like myself, but occasionally just from other professionals who for one reason or another, find themselves relocating.

1. Preparing to Move

So, you just found out your moving. Maybe your husband got orders to a new duty station. Maybe you’ve decided to move closer to family so that you can help care for aging parents. Maybe you just need a fresh start.

As stressful as moving can be, the good news is that you can begin setting yourself up for success right from the start!

2. Writing Out Your Business Goals

Have you ever sat down and written out a business plan? If not, preparing to move is a great time to start! Writing down your goals, strategies and the deadlines you set for yourself is an excellent way to keep yourself in check and make sure you’re staying on track.

Completing a business plan also helps you to focus in on familiarizing yourself with the demographics of your new location and identifying your new target client, which may be different than what you’re used to.

3. Adjusting Your Expectations

If you live in a big city and spend your efforts marketing to corporate CEO’s then moving to a small town with only one grocery store will likely require you to adjust your expectations and marketing strategies.

Your current target client may not exist in your new location. That warrants saying again. Your current target client may not exist in your new location.

Now, I’m not saying that your current business model won’t work but I am saying that it will probably require adjustments. Maybe you chose your new location knowing it would be a good fit for your business. That’s awesome! But that’s not everyone’s reality.

For military spouses, your location is completely out of your control so you have to adjust and adapt to your new environment and that can mean drastic changes for your business. But regardless of your situation, there are some things you can do before you move to ease the transition.

4. SEO - Everyone’s Doing It

Okay, not everyone is an SEO guru but you should be. It’s one of those tedious things that no one wants to invest the time in but it can be a goldmine!

When I first moved my business to a new state, I didn’t even know what SEO was. (It stands for search engine optimization, in case you’re as ignorant of the term as I was).

My Google presence was non existent and you couldn’t find my website unless you knew my specific URL.

Trust me on this. By taking a few extra minutes to optimize my web presence (I use a Wordpress plugin by Yoast), I went from page 16 to page 1 in about six months when searching for my keywords and phrases.

This isn’t a quick fix but the good news is that you can start reaching out to clients in your new location right now! Having clients find me by a simple Google search means I don’t have to rely as much on inconsistent platforms like Facebook.

5. Networking for Dummies

If you’re shy or introverted, this will be a challenge for you because networking with peers and other local businesses is paramount to integrating yourself into your new community. I have been blessed to find a group of local photographers who support each other, send referrals to each other, get together for lunches and head shot swaps and are just all around awesome women.

In addition to my peers, I’ve also introduced myself to local business and begun forming relationships. There’s a great bakery down the street from my house so I reached out to the owner and offered to take pictures of her bakery and asked if she’s let me interview her for a feature on my blog. Boom! Now when someone comes in and orders a birthday cake for their child, they’ll get a referral for a local photographer to document this milestone in their child’s life.

One such collaboration with a local style blogger not only brought me some additional paid work but also landed me in the Sunday paper just a few weeks ago. If I had focused only on SEO and just hoped people would find my website on their own, those opportunities wouldn’t have happened.

Brainstorm some local businesses that your target client may frequent and then think of what you could offer to them that would make networking with you beneficial to them. Don’t ask them to do something for you until you’ve done something for them first. You may find it’s the start of a beautiful friendship!

6. Legalities of a New Location

You may think you know all about running a legal business but throw that out the window. Every state has different requirements and standards. You may find that you need a special license (I’m required to carry a Privilege License) in addition to your business registration and Sales & Use Tax license.

Do you collect tax on session fees or only on products? This is yet another area where there are different requirements for different states and they can be confusing. For instance, where I live, you don’t have to collect sales tax on a session fee UNLESS that session results in product sales, or if products are included as an all-inclusive option.

Take the time to research your new state (assuming you’re moving out of state - but even different counties have different requirements) so you’re not caught off guard in the future.

7. Get Off the Computer and Get Started!

With a little forethought and planning, you can make moving your business a fairly seamless transition. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Instead, focus on completing just one thing each day. Set deadlines so you don’t procrastinate. Schedule certain tasks for certain days. (i.e. Marketing Mondays) and stick to it.

You can do it. 

Lea Hartman is a family lifestyle photographer, a proud army wife and the busy mother of three. While she dreams of vacationing in exotic places and taking tropical cruises, all she really wants is to sleep in! You can get to know Lea better by following along via her website, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram (@leahartman).