Having worked for 10 years as a photographer for other people, Liverpool resident Emma Hillier took a moment to reflect. Her choices we apparent – either be a manager of someone else’s studio, which would involve less photography and more paperwork or branch out on her own and carry on doing what she loved – taking photographs.

Emma said “The whole thing was quite daunting at first. I didn’t know where to start and, as all the kit I had been using belonged to the studio I was employed at, I needed money for equipment so it was like starting from scratch. But I figured if you don’t try, you’re never going to know if you could do it.”

Not knowing where to begin Emma contacted Business Link for advice who put her in touch with The Women’s Organisation where she was linked with a business adviser. She said “I had a lot of help from my adviser. The whole thing with looking at the business plan was great. It helped me to realise what I wanted to do and put it in order. I could see where I was and where I wanted to go.”

Using her initiative Emma took photographs of friends’ weddings and portraits of friends’ children to start building up her portfolio again and things developed from there. Her friends and family weren’t surprised that she took the bold step to branch out on her own knowing her passion for photography and how keen she was to be behind the camera more.

As a tip to other women setting up Emma advised “You must do your market research – see what your competitors are doing, and you’ve got to be passionate about what you do and motivate yourself. I think being a woman in my industry can give me the competitive edge, particularly in photographing children. In my experience it seems that mums can be more trusting of other women and feel more at ease.”

Emma also took advantage of the FREE courses on offer at The Women’s Organisation around basic book keeping, understanding tax and national insurance and promoting your business online. “It can get lonely working for yourself” said Emma. “I have gone from working in an office with a team of other people to working on my own. That’s why I enjoy the courses and events: it helps you feel less isolated.”
Online networking through sites like facebook Emma has discovered to be invaluable for building links and word of mouth marketing. In fact she said she has gathered more work that way than through any other marketing.

Starting her own business Emma says is “The best decision” she ever made. Emma Hillier Photography specialise in children and family portraits and weddings, also producing landscape images as art for the home. For more information on their services you can search for their fanpage on facebook or get in touch via contact@emmahillierphotography.com or 07919 091 211.

And, if like Emma you are interested in starting up your own business call The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 and find out about the range of FREE services we can offer. You can also email info@thewo.org.uk or visit www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk