For some, working for your self is one of those great dreams. The satisfaction, freedom, nobody looking over your shoulder (except your significant other), ah the life right? Well not in every case. The freelance photography life can be hard. Long hours for little pay, alone with no co-workers to speak to or have lunch with, the lack of stability of a weekly check. You have to be dedicated and follow some specific rules to make it work.
Choose a freelance photography focus:
If you love doing portraits, then advertise yourself as a portrait photographer. If weddings are your favorite, then get the word out that you are a wedding photographer. Find your area of expertise and use it to your advantage in your business.
- Try multiple areas of photography before settling on one as your favorite, and don’t exclude any business opportunities simply because they aren’t in your realm of expertise.
- If you are incredibly opposed to a certain type of shoot – for example, many photographers refuse to do weddings because of the high stress levels involved – don’t feel forced into it because it represents a business opportunity. Only does photography that you enjoy and feel comfortable with; you will begin to dislike your business otherwise.
Make your goals:
You know you want to make a career out of your love of photography, but you need to set some boundaries first. Consider a time frame in which you would like to have earned a certain sum, had a total number of shoots, or sold a certain number of prints. This will keep you on track and give you a quantifiable goal to reach.
- Set dates with your goals rather than just a general time frame and mark these on your calendar. Instead of stating “my goal is to have 20 shoots in two months,” state “my goal is to have 20 shoots scheduled by August 31.”
- Set a date that you must have earned a total amount from your business by. Then, if you reach this date without having reached your goal, you can reconsider the course of your business. For example, state that you must make $50,000 by the end of two years in order for you to continue photographing for business.
Decide on your rates:
Consider the amount of time required for each shoot, the cost of your gear, and the cost of the prints/CD you make with your images as the end product. These should all help determine the hourly or per-session rates you charge
- Look up other local photographers and see what they charge for their own businesses. Then, base your own pricing based off your skills and abilities in comparison to theirs.
- Avoid pricing your photography sessions too high or too low. A price that is too high will scare away most clients, while setting a price very low makes you seem desperate or unattractive as a photographer.
Find a mentor to help show you the ropes:
- You can do this by approaching other professional photographers or becoming a part of a local photography club.
- Take this as an opportunity to have your work critiqued, and find out what you can do to make your work better.
Create a marketing plan for how you want to let people know that your services are available:
The most important aspect of becoming a successful professional is advertising your business. Create a website, make business cards, network with locals, and talk about your photography business with everyone you meet. People will hire a photographer that has been recommended to them, that they have heard of before, and that has a great personality; make sure that you have all three. Aside from the free things you can do like Twitter and Facebook, consider setting aside a budget for a website and/or additional advertising.
- Remember that one photo shoot includes drive time, photography time, editing time, meeting time, etc. Therefore, it is more than just a “1 hour shoot.”
- Do you plan to only work weeknight and weekends? Do you have any times that are off limits? What would your schedule be if this was your only job?
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