Turning your hobby into a job can be quite tricky. And for many hobbies, this kind of change isn’t even possible. But if you love photography, turning it into an income-generating way of life can be easier than it might seem. In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know on how to become a freelance photographer so that you can be well on your way to making money doing something that you love!
Becoming a Freelance Photographer
The road to freelancing isn’t an easy one, and it certainly isn’t for everybody! But there are many perks to going freelance. You get to work on your own terms, at times that suit you, and you can decide how much you should be paid for your work. All these are great benefits to freelancing and when you’ve found your feet you are sure to reap the rewards.
But the difficulty comes in finding your feet. The first few months of freelancing can be uncertain and unstable. But with some perseverance, a bit of luck, and the right marketing techniques, you can be on your way to becoming a successful freelance photographer in no time.
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Get the Right Training
Starting your own freelance photography career is very much along the lines of starting a business. People who run businesses don’t run them with no training and you shouldn’t leap into a freelance photography career without some business training under your belt, either. You should already have a solid knowledge about the kind of photography field you want to go into so the missing components are logistics, finances, and marketing.
You should do some test runs to figure out what kind of extra equipment you’ll need and how long things are likely to last for. With this knowledge you can plan what to pack for your freelance photography shoots.
You should also understand how to market yourself as a photographer. This could entail working on building up a portfolio and making a statement about your freelance venture. Taking some courses on advertising could also prove very beneficial in this department.
Looking at the financial side of things, you should be able to plan how your income will cover your cost of living and your photography-related expenses. For example, what happens if a piece of equipment fails? How do you ensure you have money to replace it? And a more important aspect of this is the tax side of things. When you become a freelancer, your taxes change. For one thing, you’ll probably have to pay estimated quarterly payments. But in general, navigating taxes can be a challenging task so you should plan in advance how you intend to deal with this. Hiring someone to do your taxes can be a simple solution.
Training can be done in a number of ways, one is through your own trial and error. You can also find online or in-person classes that can really help you handle things. Finding what’s right for you is most important and ensuring you stick to your own learning plan.
Making a Splash – Starting Your Own Website
Starting your own website is the first step to having an online presence.
A key component of your website should be your portfolio. Now, this is a very complex area that can be easily over-, or under-developed. You should consider what kind of photography you do and want to specialize in, who your target audience is, and whether you are looking to sell prints online.
If you do want to sell prints, having a large selection of your best works is definitely the way to go when it comes to designing your photography portfolio. Presentation of the photos is also key – a poorly designed website isn’t going to attract people into buying your prints. But one with a good layout and the ability to examine images in closer detail is sure to please visitors and have them much more invested and interested in buying prints.
If you’re not looking to sell prints, and instead you’re offering your photography services for shoots. Make sure to have a diverse range of past shoots with at least something covering each type of shoot you offer. For example, if you do family, newborn, and pet portraits, you’re going to want a portfolio that offers a mixed bag of some of your very best shots from each genre. Be selective with your images and only showcase your best works.
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Writing a Blog
When you have a website up and running, a great way to flaunt your expertise so clients know that they’re getting someone genuinely skilled in their field is to write a blog.
Blogs are fairly straightforward to set up and if you’re a confident photographer, producing relevant content should be a breeze. If you do wedding shoots, you might want to write a short blog about the shoots you go on and what you loved about the wedding. Be sure to include lots of pictures that showcase your work and what you are writing about!
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If you want to really invest in your blog, carrying out some keyword research and producing content that specifically targets your genre of photography can really help reel in potential clients and lead to paid gigs.
Make sure you keep your blog posts regular and relevant and you’ll develop an audience in no time. This will only increase your success in becoming a freelance photographer.
Taking on Gigs: Locking Down a Price
A discussion on how to become a freelance photographer would not be complete without a few lines on pricing. The best approach to setting a price for your work with a client is never to give away the magic number at the first meeting. Committing a price in haste will always come back to haunt you. Because you cannot go back and change it later down the line.
If you’re planning on doing a long-term work commitment, make sure you set a price that will sustain you for the duration of your work, understanding that some things require more effort than others. Don’t settle on a price that is too low as it is unlikely you can renegotiate the price later on.
Always make it a point to understand the requirements of the job in the first meeting and promise to come back with a quote at a later date. Some clients will ask you to make a commitment straight-up. If at all possible, avoid settling on a price in that first meeting. That said, if you are a wedding photographer, per se, you would probably want to have a price list of your regular services ready. This is because wedding photography, by and large, requires a similar amount of involvement.
If you do freelance offering a similar service, it is a good idea to have a standard price list and even factor in extras. It might be worthwhile determining how much you require for payment if you’re asked to travel outside of a given radius. A per-mile fee would work in this case. If travel is further afield and you’d have to spend a night in a hotel, make sure to account for this, too!
Dealing with Objections: Negotiating Prices and Declining Opportunities
There are going to be lots of times where people think your service charges are too high. If this happens, it is ultimately up to you how you tackle the problem. Your prices should be on par with other photographers at the same skill level as you and with a similar amount of experience. Having some kind of knowledge of this to hand is sure to help back you up if you decide to affirm that your prices are reasonable.
That being said, negotiating prices and offering discounts is another good tactic that can help people feel like they’ve got a good deal from you. Make sure you know your limits and the lowest payment you are willing to accept. Consider your current successes, have you had a lot of demand? If so, dropping a client that won’t pay the same as everyone else is a perfectly acceptable decision. If you’ve not had much in terms of opportunities, taking on some lower-paid gigs might be a good way to get you foot in the door and boost your portfolio. It also gives you a network of other potential clients.
Your price is ultimately your choice. You know best how much your time and resources really are worth so you should trust yourself to make appropriate deals.
Overcommitting: Being Wary of Taking on Too Much
Overcommitting is a problem for a lot of beginner freelance photographers. Never commit more than you have to or you want to. It is always better to not only commit exactly what you think is fair to commit but make it a point to commit less and deliver more.
For example when you are committing the number of edited images never commit too many. For every edited and finalized image, you have to spend time, and time is valuable.
If you take on multiple projects at once, make sure you can handle the turnaround times for each project. It is better to have one extremely happy client rather than an unhappy client and a happy client. You want to have ultimate satisfaction from all clients.
Not only that, but your own time also needs to be balanced as well. Just like a 9-5 job, you need to have some time to yourself and be able to disconnect from work. Being overwhelmed and overloaded with multiple projects is going to make your freelance photography career unsatisfying.
Maintaining a Schedule
This pointer works on a broader spectrum and a personal scale.
If you’re a photographer for events, people are going to want to book you for certain days. Ensuring you don’t have clashes is key. One easy way to handle this is to have a public calendar for potential clients to view your availability. This will really save time in the long run as you won’t have to hold meetings with people who you can’t actually book time for in the end.
On the other hand, having a schedule for yourself can also be really beneficial to ensure you meet deadlines. Having set dates and turnaround times means you have to execute things before a given date. Since nobody is holding you accountable, you have to hold yourself accountable to deliver on your promises. Having your own work schedule can really help with this. Blocking out time for different aspects of your work on a daily or weekly basis.
Balancing Work and Life
Most people think becoming a freelance photographer is an easy way to have days that suit you. To some extent, this is mot definitely true. But the harsh reality is that if you don’t plan effectively, your time is ultimately going to be spent working under stress to meet a deadline. This can really take a toll on your body and mental health, increasing stress levels and causing sleep deprivation.
If you plan your weeks, you can avoid this kind of thing happening. Make sure you schedule enough time to get your work done. It is often best to overestimate and earn yourself some time back at the end of the day or week. You should also ensure you’re getting enough time to do other things you enjoy. If you have a family, make sure you have time for them. If you like to game, block out some time for that. It is all too easy to end up having a skewed life where all you do is work. Maintaining a balance is key to your enjoyment, commitment, and creativity.
The best option would be to work on a fixed scheduled time and maintain the same work schedule every day for the number of days you work every week. This is, of course, difficult considering that you are working out of your home and there may be distractions but if you keep going, you will reap the rewards.