How to Become a Freelance Photographer

How to Become a Freelance Photographer

Follow these simple steps to understand how to become a freelance photographer and earn money today as an independent photography businessman. Being a talented photographer is not enough, you should be a talented manager too.

20 Steps to Become a Freelance Photographer

Check out these easy steps to start your freelance photography business today and plan further successful development.

1. Choose a Demanding Photo Genre

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The choice of photos is important because it influences the choice of equipment and your marketing strategy, so you need to decide on a specific genre. Don’t feel forced to limit yourself to one genre, though, because some styles go well together.

For instance, if event photography is your choice, then portrait images can be easily added to your services package. Often clients, who had a wedding or other celebration photoshoot covered well, come back to photographers when they want portraits of their children.

2. Get a Business License

how to start freelance photography

Before you even start charging people for your photos, get all the permits and licenses required in your state. In case you’re uncertain of what they are, do your research or hire a legal consultant, because in any state and any other country there is some sort of requirements for becoming a freelance photographer.

Most often you will simply need to register your business, but in certain occasions, those working from home, need a Home Occupancy Permit. The Small Business Administration's website will provide you with the necessary information.

3. Consider Taxes

Make sure you learn how to do your taxes well. Having an official employer, you will see them deducted automatically, but as a freelancer, you are responsible for paying your own federal and state taxes.

You should pay estimates properly. The first important advantage is the absence of interest penalties that appear if the sum of estimates you pay this year differ from that you paid last year. So, if your debt was $2000 last year and you paid $500 per quarter, there will be no interest for you to pay when you file your taxes if the current debt is smaller than $1000 or if you covered 90% of the current year. The adjusted gross income of more than $150,000 means that you need to pay 110% of the previous year’s income taxes.

Saving a part of your earnings and keeping it on an online account enables you to pay your quarterlies when the time comes, so there will be no unpaid taxes at the end of the year. This is a better decision than leave taxes for the future and have no money to cover them when needed.

4. Set Fees Wise

Download Free Photography Price List Templates

Since photography jobs need to bring some income, you will have to sit down and think your price list through. Consider all obvious expenses like equipment, taxes, and operation, plus the hidden ones like transportation, props, image editing, etc., to ensure you can live on the income.

To make the process more efficient, use the softwares like fotoQuote and BlinkBid, to make sure everything is factored in. This way generating invoices for clients will be easier.

5. Solve the Question of Payment Methods

Once you have estimated your freelance photographers salary, think of how you will be collecting payment from customers. Cash is the easiest way for an amateur businessman like you, but the more payment ways you provide, the more likely you are to get customers.

Try to see how you can accept cardsor take check payments, work with a web designer to enable online payments through your website, etc.

6. Build Your Portfolio

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To convince newcomers to order your services, you should put out some successfull photographs to show your style and skills. At the very beginning, some free photoshoots will help you build the portfolio.

Megan Simonson, a successful freelance photographer from Edmonton, did so and now her photography has been published in Atlas Magazine. So, the bright and extraordinary portfolio matters!

A good idea is to collaborate with local models, who always need new pictures of themselves, so one shot will fill both portfolios. The results of such collaborations should be displayed on your website. Find great FREE WordPress Portfolio Themes or use Adobe Portfolio for your future portfolio or personalized website.

7. Set Up Your Website

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A big portion of success with a large client database is launching a proper website. Hostinger offers a lot of tools, that could help you with creating your first website and scaling your photography business. Hostinger website maker offers a range of features, including AI logo maker, free unlimited SSL security certificates, etc. Obviously, it will display the portfolio, plus serve as a way of communication with potential and former clients and do many other things. If the capabilities of logo design tools aren’t sufficient for you, there is Appy Pie AI logo maker with more advanced features, so don’t hesitate to try it.

A well-developed website will hold the schedule of shootings, deliver edited images, distribute relevant information, blog posts, and discounts. Just work with the WordPress site using one of those templates above.

8. Establish Social Media Accounts

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What is a freelance photographer without Instagram these days? With the priority being set on visual content, you can advertise your services to a large spectrum of potential customers.

Create Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts, post your shots and let people share and like them. Make sure links to your accounts are always there in case someone wants to order your photography services.

9. Print Up Business Cards

free photography business card for freelance photographers Download Free Photography Business Card Templates

Write into your plan of how to become a freelance photographer to print out business cards for distributing among relatives, friends, customers, and in strategic places.

Work on the design, because it will be further inclining people to call you up. A particularly good photo you took can be used to show your skills or a self-portrait to help people know you better. Most importantly, include all possible ways of contacting you, even the website.

10. Share Your Contact Info

Do not just sit and wait for someone to see the advertisement but rather to take matters in your own hands and spread the word about your services. You can leave your contacts to companies organizing events, catering to them, agencies that provide celebration clothes for rental, etc. In case someone inquires about recommendations, your contacts will hopefully be passed on.

11. Offer Free Photoshoots

photoshoot in the studio by a freelance photographer

A great way of how to be a successful photographer is to organize free photoshoots. You could offer customers to cover the costs of printing their favorite images, thus earning a little and attracting more people to order your service.

As a part of the scheme, ask every free customer to leave feedback. When your clients praise you, make such reviews public to encourage others. Think over any negative remarks and make an effort to improve that particular aspect if you think the critics were reasonable.

12. Create a Schedule

steps to becoming a photographer

Create a detailed schedule that you can put up on your website using use the BirchPress Scheduler WordPress plugin. Using the dashboard, you will be able to organize the shootings and other tasks, while showing your potential customers when you are free for work.

13. Upgrade Your Equipment

You can select a used camera body to have some money left for additional things needed for your chosen genre. Those may be lights, diffusers, reflectors, etc., ensuring the image is properly lit. These can be additional lenses, like a wide zoom or pancake, used to break the monotony of similar shots.

14. Attend Workshops

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Even though technically there is no education needed to be a photographer you still should develop your photography skills. This way you can work with more efficiency, learn timesaving tips, get new ideas, spark up the passion that gets weakened with the routine.

Find local workshops, attend some college courses, or study online if that works better for you. Follow Udemy photography courses that many photographers like.

15. Get On-the-Job Training

Find someone who takes assistants, be attentive during sessions and review your results together to know where to work harder. As an alternative, cooperate with a portrait studio which is an example of an established business demonstrating what’s in demand and how to interact with customers.

16. Enter Some Contests

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When freelance photography assignments are somewhat scarce, it would be a great boost to participate in special contests. They are great in two ways, mainly by forcing you out of your comfort zone and providing a creative environment for experiments, but also by advertising your persona.

If you win, fame will be more noticeable, and the result will add an extra impressive line to your portfolio or resume. I advise you to use this photo competition service, where there is a list of all photo contests.

17. Join a Photography Group

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Freelancers need constructive criticism from colleagues necessary for professional growth. Students have more freelance photography opportunities since in their colleges or universities there is likely a club providing such feedback.

Refer to local photographers and attend their classes. Write to them on Instagram or Facebook. Recommended photographers: Laurie Gould Photography.

Being out of school, you may inquire in local camera stores if they know about any such organizations or gatherings. Surfing the net is another great idea, try Lightstalking to start with.

18. Boost Your Confidence

The main secret of how to become a freelance photographer is to be confident in your skills. Your speech, voice, and actions need to show your customers that you are capable of doing what they require.

The key is experience: try getting more shoots, thoroughly analyze each segment, single out where you did great and what was not so good. This will help you improve your skills and feel more confidentabout your work and edited photographs.

19. Remember!

Any business takes time to start bringing its first real profits. You would feel easier if you start this as a part-time job in addition to some other stable source of income. This way you will be sure to have money for basic necessities while the new business is growing.

20. Always Edit Photos Before Delivery

portrait photo editingportrait photo editing
Order Portrait Photo Retouching $5 per photo

Make your clients crazy about your works and that would be hard without photo editing. Make sure you edit your images before sending them to the customers. Handle such little flaws like unbalanced colors, insufficient or excessive light, blemishes and wrinkles on the skin, etc.

If you already have many clients and do not have time to edit images, you can take advantage of outsourcing services for that task. FixThePhoto professionals will help you with photo editing of any complexity.

Finding Niche in Freelance Photography Business

photography careers

There are different highly-demanded career opportunities in photography that may not be obvious to those amateurs who’re taking the first steps. Every professional direction is different and can have a variety of narrower areas.

1. Social Media Photography

Platforms like Instagram or Facebook are a great way of becoming a freelance photographer with a stable income.

If you plan to grow and maintain a large audience, you will need a constant source of that content. Intending to occupy this niche, generate offers for specific types of photos, singling out what they will add to the company’s development and recognizability.

2. Family and Portrait Photography

Becoming a freelance photographer in this genre, you will have a lot of requests, especially since families tend to grow and change quickly.

It will help the business if you make special offers to first-time customers because they need some encouragement to make this step.

3. Event Photography

Probably the most popular niche with weddings being the primary work field and parties or concerts coming after them. Event organizers are in constant search of successful photographers to partner with. Cover celebrations of your friends for a small fee to have something to fill up your portfolio with and gain experience.

4. Photojournalism

Press photography is a niche that is very far from all the others. It is a great way to combine art with documentation of certain events or issues. You will need to know reportage and street photography and follow the local events of all kinds.

Typically, it would be local newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals offering jobs for photographers so keep in touch with all of them.

5. Other Styles of Photography

There are many other areas of demand for photography where you can freelance, some of the subjects of your shots being food, nature, houses, travel destinations.

The truth is, if you capture something with your camera, even if it doesn’t fall into any of these categories there is still a high chance someone will be willing to purchase it. When you’re passionate about the subject, it shows in your images and lures in the customers.

FREEBIES for Editing Photos

Now when you’ve learned all basic steps of how to become a freelance photographer, it is important to provide yourself with the necessary tools to perfect images and spend less time doing image editing. Here are some great free actions, overlays, and presets to assist you in this.

Double Exposure Ps Action Free "Imposition"

free photoshop action for portrait photosfree photoshop action for portrait photos

The double exposure created by this action is great for using in portraits. It looks especially flattering in studio close-ups. The action is good for different purposes, if you work in advertisement, do design, create marketing templates, etc.

Photoshop Action Wedding "Creamy"

free photoshop action for wedding photosfree photoshop action for wedding photos

Photographers shooting weddings mostly have to work with airy, delicate images filled with light. This is a perfect wedding Ps action since it creates a soft, warm atmosphere, adding definition with a light burnt effect.

Bokeh Overlay "Holiday Sparkles"

free photoshop overlay for portrait photographyfree photoshop overlay for portrait photography

Applicable to many images, this bokeh overlay creates light flares of various tints. Looks good on night and neon photographs.

Free LR Preset Portrait "Matte"

free lightroom preset for portrait photosfree lightroom preset for portrait photos

This preset will affect color saturation to make the image brighter. It works perfectly in images with nature in the background.

Lightroom Product Preset "Clean White"

free lightroom preset for product photosfree lightroom preset for product photos

An absolute must-have for any photographer, this preset can be used on its own or serve as a foundation for the deeper image editing. It makes whites pure and crisp, adding brightness to other colors. The preset is pretty versatile and can be used any time you need to remove any dullness or dirty hues from a picture.

Tata Rossi

Hi there, I'm Tata Rossi - a professional blogger, read more