Expat Entrepreneur: Photographer Megan Alter in the Netherlands

Expat Entrepreneur: Photographer Megan Alter in the Netherlands

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Thank goodness for the KVK, they are such a helpful organisation, says Photographer Megan Alter who also praises the "great network of people" who helped her get her business off the ground.

Name: Megan Alter
Nationality: American
City of residence: Amsterdam
Name of company: Megan Alter Photography
Date of company launch:  December 2009

Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?

The name of my business is Megan Alter Photography and I offer editorial and event photography, portraits and image post production services for companies and individuals.

I started off doing mostly event photography and retouching of images for web and print. Along the way I have sold some prints of my art photography and people have been asking me if I offer photography courses.  There was a lot of interest in a hands-on photography course that combined theory and practical knowledge.  Based off this interest and my skills, I decided to start offering courses for beginner and intermediate level photographers.  My student's work has proved that the courses are a great success. I intend to expand on this to offer the course to companies who cater to their employees.

Megan Alter--Self portraitWhat do you like about doing business in your country of residence?

My great network of people! I have found very close friends here, who are not only kind and supportive, but also have amazing business minds. I couldn't have gotten to where I am now without great people standing behind me!

What do you find most frustrating about doing business in your the Netherlands?

The closed fisted approach to money is a huge challenge when trying to sell something in the Netherlands. Sometimes I feel like an idea machine and the hardest part is figuring out what people are willing to pay for and what they don't want to spend money on. What kind of photographic services would people and companies rather do themselves and which require professional quality. Finding that niche is challenging.

What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?

One hurdle was figuring out the Dutch rules, and the financial and legal side of running my own business in the Netherlands. As a creative person, there is nothing worse than rules and paperwork. Thank goodness for the KVK (Dutch Chamber of Commerce), they are such a helpful organisation.

How has the economic crisis affected your business?

The crisis caused a lack of jobs and a flooded market full of creative freelancers.  My business was affected because company budgets were cut, resulting in less projects. The decreased demand and many creative freelancers seeking the same projects made winning project proposals that much harder. I'm glad to see that things starting to pick up again.
Dancer in the Vondel Kerk: Copyright Megan Alter
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in your the Netherlands?

Do your market research! Find out if market is ready to buy your product. It's much better than trial and error.

How does running a business in your current country of residence compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?

The biggest difference in running my business here compared to the U.S. is that I'm part of a creative collective here called MixTup. MixTup is a creative collective that offers shared workspace for creative freelancers.  Not only do I enjoy sharing a work space with other creative people, but it's a great opportunity to network and be involved in collective projects!

Would you like to add anything?

Having a solid product is the most important thing about running your own business!  Marketing that product becomes the challenge.  I've found that having a simple website with your product information and business cards will go a long way, especially in networking situations!  So make sure to invest a little into these simple tools. 


Joining Expat Voices

To add your voice to Expat Voices in the Netherlands, simply download the Expat Voices questionnaire via this link and return it by email to editornl@expatica.com. You can choose  to take an Expat Artist, Expat Entrereneur or Expat Writer questionnaire if this is more relevant to your lifestyle.  We'd love to hear what you have to say about life in the Netherlands!  


Expat Fair Amsterdam

Whether you’ve lived here for days, months or years, you won’t regret attending the Expat Fair for Internationals. Sunday 8 October 2017, Amsterdam.

Get your FREE tickets and discover more about expat life in the Netherlands.


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3 Comments To This Article

  • Sean posted:

    on 13th April 2011, 19:49:30 - Reply

    Very insightful article. For anyone that's starting a business this is a great inspirational read.
  • Erika posted:

    on 13th April 2011, 15:37:05 - Reply

    Thanks for the great article. It inspires me to follow my passion as a business. I feel it is more valuable to listen to someone who has made it as an entrepreneur that may not have all of the background to make it simple. This woman's passion for her work appears to be that grounded that her business skills follow suit. Great story!
  • Joeri posted:

    on 13th April 2011, 15:28:19 - Reply

    Fab article – knowing the entrepreneur, I have seen this business grow from up close over the last two years and it's a delight that this gets some positive attention. Starting and running a business in an unfamiliar cultural and legal environment requires a lot of hard work and an ability to stay positive to overcome the many setbacks and negative attitude that come your way. Well done, Megan!