Freelance photography is a career that allows many self-motivated photographers to open new opportunities in their work. However, to succeed in this sphere, you have to turn your photography skills and knowledge into a fast-growing business.
To do that, you need to follow an effective marketing strategy. If you are a beginner, starting and developing your own business may seem a real challenge.
Want to discover how to make money through freelance photography? Starting a photography business is a great way to implement the most creative ideas and build a sustainable career. However, you may feel lost if you have no idea what to start with. Read on to discover my best freelance photography tips to do photography professionally and make a solid income.
Before starting a freelance photography business, two questions will probably pop up in your mind. How can I make money from my photos? How much should I charge being a freelance photographer?
Everything depends only on you! As stated by Payscale, the average hourly pay for a freelance photographer is $25.08. However, numerous factors can affect your earning potential.
Although your photography level helps determine the rates for your services, this is not the only thing you should pay attention to. One of the strongest advantages of working independently is gaining the freedom of choice of how much time you want to spend on your work.
You are free to decide when you will work, set your schedule and control your income.
Primarily, you need to buy photography equipment. Don’t regret spending your money on good gear in order to deliver first-class results to your clients.
Actually, the list of what you need to buy is rather long.
So, if you are wondering how much independent photographers should charge for their services, think about how much you should spend on all the gadgets and accessories that are necessary for your work.
If you are going to start a freelance photography career, you need to determine what type of photography you are going to do. It is possible to choose several specialties to attract more clients.
For instance, you may do both wedding and portrait photography. Thus, you can get more orders as people, who asked you to shoot their special event may want to hire you again to take portraits of their kids.
You may choose among these specialties:
Before you organize the first photo session as a freelance photographer, you should get the necessary license(s). You need certain state permits and licenses to operate a professional photography business.
Most often, a general business license is enough to offer photography services. However, if you decided to create a home-based photo studio, it is necessary to obtain a Home Occupancy Permit.
To learn more about the necessary license(s) in your state and city and how to get them, check out this info on the Small Business Administration's website.
Having a creative and attention-grabbing photography portfolio is a must for every independent photographer. To attract more clients with your portfolio, you may do some work for free.
Also, it is possible to collaborate with beginning models at Model Mayhem, who want to build their own portfolio. Once you have taken awesome photos, you should demonstrate them on your photography website.
Make sure your website meets all these requirements:
Apart from your portfolio website, you can promote your services via your social media account. Create Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest profiles, so you can demonstrate your works to people and advertise yourself as a freelance photographer. Connect all your social media accounts to your website to make your content easy to share.
When your client base starts growing and you begin earning good money, you have a lot of things to do every day. That’s why you need to create a detailed schedule and follow it.
With the BirchPress Scheduler WordPress plugin website, you can accept appointments online and let your clients check your availability. Also, this online scheduling plug-in allows you to manage your bookings, set a schedule and use your WordPress dashboard.
Word of mouth is definitely your best and most reliable source for getting new clients. That is why you need to print up business cards to give your friends, neighbors and clients.
They can give these cards to people, who may want to hire a photographer. Make your card unique by adding one of your photos on it.
A self-portrait or your best work which demonstrates your photographer skills will make your card more recognizable. Don’t forget to specify your contact information along with the address of your website.
This is one of the main rules for each professional shooter. Starting freelance photography means you need to balance your personal and professional life. To increase your productivity at work, it is necessary to tune out all distractions. I recommend creating and adhering to a schedule in order to keep work and home life separate.
This is absolutely normal if you have low-energy days. Sometimes having a person to “motivate” you by looking over your shoulder can be an effective way to boost your productivity.
If you spend hours retouching images in Lightroom, you can notice that the quality of your work has considerably reduced. Apart from doing exercises and drinking coffee, you just need to spend some time out. Nothing bad will happen if you change your schedule a little.
If you work for a company, the taxes will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. However, being a freelancer, you need to pay either federal or state taxes yourself.
A good accountant can provide expert advice on all the tax codes and benefits that can influence your business. By the way, you can ask your accountant to determine the best business structure for your particular situation.
Most photographic companies, as a rule, become individual entrepreneurship, which means the business belongs to one person, who receives all the profit.
Begin searching for clients only when you have settled the price for your freelance photography services. The price you set is influenced by the expenses on operation fees, taxes and equipment.
Besides, you should take into account the amount of time you invest in every order and the time it takes to get to the place of shooting. If the price set is too low, you simply won’t be able to make a living from your job.
When you are starting freelance photography business, you definitely need to decide how you will collect fees from the clients. For instance, some photographers prefer taking cash and offer only this payment option.
But it is more convenient to provide the clients with multiple payment options, including credit cards and check payments. In addition, you can have a website designed for you to offer an online payment with a credit card.
One of the most significant freelance photography tips is to remember about marketing. Even if you don’t know anything about this sphere, it isn’t a problem. The simplest and quite an efficient way to promote your services is to publish ads in newspapers, on billboards, print and distribute brochures, leaflets, etc.
Mind that the design of your marketing materials should be made at a quality level to properly reflect the purpose of your brand.
If a person contacts you and asks about your photography freelance services, that’s probably because he/she has seen your works and are interested in cooperating with you. In this case, every minute counts. Other photographers may be faster than you and you may lose a potential client. So reply to the messages as quickly as possible.
Life-long education is highly important for every freelance photographer. If you never stop learning, you not only develop your skillset but become even more passionate about your job. Visit a nearby photography workshop, take an online or a community college course. My personal recommendation is Udemy photography courses.
Many professional independent photographers are looking for assistants. So it may be your chance to learn a few handy techniques and tips from a real expert, show your own photographs to them and learn what they think.
Another way to gain photography experience is to work at a portrait studio. There you will be the one, who is shooting and you will be able to figure out what type of shots clients give preference to.
Once you have acquired certain shooting skills and experience, you are ready to enter a photography contest. In this way, you will discover what other photographers are capable of and what skill level you have in comparison with them.
Besides, if you become a winner, it will be a great addition to your self employed photographer resume. Such contests generally boost the photographers’ creativity which helps them along the way.
Word-of-mouth marketing is undoubtedly an efficient way to promote your freelance photography services. But it doesn’t mean that you should just wait for clients to approach you. Be proactive and search for clients yourself by cooperating with related businesses.
For instance, if you are involved in event photography, try contacting party or wedding planners, event halls, etc. to tell about your services and show your works. As a result, when a person plans an event and asks if they know a photographer available, they may recommend you.
When starting a freelance photography business, you may try organizing free photo sessions. Do it under the condition that the clients pay in case they want to buy your prints. This way, you will attract new clients and earn some money.
Don’t forget to ask free clients for feedback after the photo session is over. Then you can use positive feedback for promotion or as a reference for potential clients. If free clients tell you about the negative sides of your work, take good note of it to enhance your services.
Another way to improve your photographer skills is to ask other photographers’ honest opinions on your works. If you are studying at a university or college, there may be a photographer club where you may find your so-called colleagues and talk about your shots.
In case you aren’t a student, visit a nearby retail camera store and ask if they know about any clubs within easy reach. Also, you may search for such clubs on the net. Start with Google+ and Lightstalking.
It is important to have confidence in your photography skills and remember that you are a professional. If you are serious about your freelance photography career and wish to achieve success in the sphere, you need to demonstrate potential clients that you are capable of doing the job at a professional level.
Learn from your own mistakes and experience. Analyze which your actions have been right and what has gone wrong. With every new photo shoot, you will gain more confidence in what you do.
When you go out of your comfort zone, you grow as a person and a professional. When I just started photographing, I participated in a popular photo-a-day challenge. I didn’t go through with it till the very end but I managed to complete approximately 250 days.
But that’s not the point. Thanks to this challenge, my worldview and approach to shooting have changed. I figured out how to shoot in a more creative way and started photographing locations and subjects that I would never imagine were worth photographing.
In other words, I began thinking like all independent photographers do. I will always be grateful for that inexperience. I’m considering taking on another challenge soon and highly recommend you to try it as well.
You have to understand that photography freelance jobs are no different from real ones. As with any other job, you need to have a schedule and stick to it in order not to space out and forget about reality.
Try to wake up at the same time on a daily basis. Create a working atmosphere at home. Don’t stay up too late and finish the work in due time to spend the rest of the day with your family and friends or simply have a rest.
The success of any freelance photographer highly depends on the way how the final shots, which are delivered to the clients, look. For the best results, you definitely need to enhance shots in the picture editing software. The most common edits are color correction, skin tone improvement, background adjustment and lighting enhancement.
If you already have plenty of clients and don’t have time for picture post-processing, you can use outsourcing services. FixThePhoto professionals will help you with editing shots of any complexity.
Now that you know how to become a freelance photographer, you also need to learn about picture post-production tools. They will help you bring the look of your shots to perfection. Here is a small selection of 5 handy and free presets, actions and overlays.
This preset is perfectly suitable for nude and boudoir photography. It preserves the natural look of the shot, making skin soft and gentle. Apply the preset properly and you will achieve a film-like effect.
This portrait photography preset raises contrast, thus making the colors more realistic. Besides, it is an effective tool for fixing exposure, especially in cases when the initial shot is underexposed because of insufficient artificial or natural lighting.
Do you like matte shots or photos in a lo-fi style? Then use this action to get deeper shades, a pleasant hue and make the transition from light to shadows softer.
Vintage filters have been in trend for many years and still remain popular. Apply this vintage preset to portrait or street shots to make them more eye-catching and enhance colors.
This watercolor Ps texture features a light blue color and is developed using a touch-up technique. I like this texture for its gentle gradient from blue to soft white tones. Apply it to newborn and wedding shots to see magnificent results.