I set up a photography business in October 2011 and hoped to one day conquer the world as a freelance photographer, taking pictures of the rich and famous, travelling the world and having a bucket load of fun along the way… and if that didn’t happen then at least make enough money to have photography as my first and only income, shooting weddings, family portraits and commercial work. The latter maybe not being quite as exciting as the former, but still I’d be my own boss and enjoy having the creative freedom a 9-5 is sadly lacking.Six months down the line and I’m doing pretty well. My prices are low as I don’t have a lot of experience and I feel this has helped me get a good amount of work in, whilst building my portfolio and making me more likely to secure bookings at a better rate of pay in the future. I’m a million miles away from touring the world with rock bands and photographing their most intimate moments, but then again I never expected to be at that stage yet. Where I expected to be was looking towards 2013 as a year where everything I had learnt in the previous 18 months would allow me to attract clients and start my business properly. Things have gone far better then that though, and with a few family shoots here and there, six weddings booked in, and some interesting and exciting work involving motorsport in the pipe line, things are way beyond schedule.So what have I learnt?Attracting Customers:How and who you pitch your business to is the key to being “successful”. I chatted to a fellow photographer the other day on Twitter, she was hoping to break in to the wedding business but was struggling to attract clients. Her website was getting a lot of hits, but no-one was biting. I asked how much she was charging and it was just too much for someone without a portfolio to back up her prices. I advised her to halve them and she almost instantly had 2 inquiries. The people she needed to attract were those that couldn’t afford a semi-expensive photographer… they needed someone cheap, and if they were good it was a bonus. Luckily she is a really good photographer, so once she’s shot a few of these cheap weddings and has a great portfolio she can then increase her prices and attract those with a little more money to spend, who are also a little more choosy about who they hire.Being Pro-Active:I’ve shot a fair few different types of photography so far and it’s because I’ve being proactive and found the work myself, either through advertising on free/cheap sites, or by doing family/baby shoots for friends (and not charging) on the proviso they put the photos on Facebook for other new mums to see. It works and I shot my first baby shoot a couple of weekends ago thanks to the free advertising Facebook gives me. The client was delighted with the photos and put them on Facebook too, so hopefully that’ll generate more interest from her friends and so on.I also crawl the advertisement sites to find people looking for a photographer for “x” reason. I’ve managed to get a fair bit of work from this, and approaching people shows you’re enthusiastic whilst making sure you aren’t just sitting there waiting for the work to come to you.Be cheap but not for long:To build up my portfolio I’ve offered my services for cheap, it undercut the competition and ensured I got the job. However my prices are organic and grow with my portfolio, so every time I think my website looks that bit better, and that bit more complete my prices increase. It’s important to not get stuck being known as the “cheap photographer”, and what you charge should always reflect your experience and portfolio.I’ll write another article after 12 months to update you all on how things have progressed, but I hope this article is helpful for other photographers hoping to break in to a very crowded and competitive marketplace.