BlissCredit: Jaime RoweCredit: Jaime Rowe

Starting your own pet photography business is a great way to use your photographic skills, run a business and spend time with pets.  It requires photographic skills, knowledge about animal behavior, business sense and a desire to make beautiful images for your clients. Before you start advertising  your business, here are five steps that you should read about in order to be successful at your pet photography business.

#1 - Buy a professional digital SLR with interchangeable lenses & learn how to use it. Shop around and buy a camera that fits your needs. Next, read the manual and start taking pictures. Bring your camera with your everywhere and practice taking lots of pictures. You will only get better with practice, practice and more practice. A great place to start is a local dog park or a animal shelter. Shelters are always looking for volunteers to photograph dogs and cats that are available for adoption. It would give you a chance to learn about your camera and work with pets in a client-free environment.

#2 - Increase your photography knowledge. Attend a local community college photography class, join a local photography club, or meet other photographers online in photography forums. There are also photography certification programs available. Learning about your craft will only help you and your future clients.

#3 - Educate yourself on animal behavior. In order to create beautiful and thought-provoking images of people's pets, then you need to understand animal behavior. Pick up a book about animal behavior or call a local dog trainer and ask to shadow them at work. Find a dog trainer that enjoys teaching others their craft and you will be in luck.

#4 - Learn about the business side of photography. There are two parts to a pet photography business. One is to understand the art of photography and other side is the business side. Some people ignore the business side of pet photography and it rarely turns out successfully for them.

Take a basic class on accounting, marketing and finance or pick up a book on the subjects. Ask other photographers about who they use for an accountant. Set up an LLC or S-Corporation so that you are legally separated  from your business. You will also need to set up a separate phone number for your business, a separate checking account and a PO Box. Some people use spreadsheets to track their sales and some photographers use software to track their sales. I prefer software because it makes it easier to do taxes and track your financial progress in the most efficient manner.

#5 - Market your pet photography business. The first step to marketing yourself is to create a website about your business. There are several companies that have templates available for you to set up a website. A simple website that showcases your work and how clients can contact you is necessary and easy to setup. The main components of a pet photography website are as follows: About, Information, Dog Gallery, Cat Gallery, Testimonials and Contact Us.

The second step to marketing your pet photography business is to create business cards with your information. Your business card should have your phone number, e-mail address, website address, logo (if you have one already), and an image of a pet.  Always have a "call to action" like an e-mail address or phone number so people know how to contact you.

The third step to marketing your pet photography business is to hand out your business card to local dog groomers, pet stores and dog trainers. Get to know a dog trainer and ask the dog trainer to attend some of your sessions. Create business partnerships with other pet businesses in your area. Word-of-mouth referrals will bring good and continuous business to you.

To conclude, these are the five steps to start a successful pet photography business. If you follow these steps and you have a true desire to capture beautiful images of pets, then you are most likely to have a successful pet photography business.