I decided this month that I was tired of working for other people, and to pursue freelancing photography. This is/was a very scary decision as it means I will not have a “stable” income stream at the beginning of this new adventure. But I simply can not continue working for people who make bad choices, see their employees as slaves, and feel trapped in a job for the sake of a paycheck.
So here I am, once again trying something new and different. Something that honestly scares the living shit out of me, but something that, I hope, in the end, will be worth it.
Now, like probably so many others before me, as I pondered the idea of going freelance I did a lot of Google searches looking for articles, resources, and guidance on how to be a good freelance photographer, where to find work, and how to keep good clients. You would think in today’s world and with the vastness of the internet I would be able to find some good solid resources…but alas, I could not.
That is not to say that I did not find a plethora of articles and blog posts, because I did, but I could not find any that were of use or help to me.
Why? Well because they all said the same things just using different words. Every single article, blog post, online magazine article, etc all said the same things that freelance photographers needed to do. Here let me summarize them for you.
How to be a Freelance Photographer
- Buy a camera – Really? No shit Sherlock. Are there really people out there who don’t own a camera who wake up one day and think…”I want to be a Freelance Photographer” and then need to be TOLD to “buy a camera”?
- Set up a website – Again this seems like a no-brainer right? If you are going to become a Freelance anything you are basically starting a business population 1, and that business will need a website so clients can find you.
- Build a Portfolio – OK so I will be honest I was surprised at how many photographers try to “become photographers” without any kind of a Portfolio. TBH I was even more surprised at how many people don’t even know what a portfolio is or how to use a portfolio. So rest assured this is a topic I will be covering in a future post. Bottom line my advice to anyone is to get 10 good portfolio pieces BEFORE you go into photography as a business.
- Get your first client – Wow really?!? I need a client?!!? I NEVER would have thought of that! There were SO MANY sites that had this on their articles, but when you drilled into the HOW you find clients the material was surprisingly lacking.
- Create a schedule – This was often an advertisement for some sort of calendar app that was sponsoring the post.
- Edit your photos – OK but who is giving clients unedited RAW photos?! Anyone? Bueller, Bueller, Bueller? Again these kinds of articles usually advertised software like Adobe Lightroom in these posts, but I am often surprised how few photographers talk about the importance of editing. Taking the shot is honestly only part of the work. Editing is just as important as taking a good picture.
Pretty basic stuff to be honest, and if you ask me these kinds of articles lack the fundamentals of running a business, which is what Freelance is. Thankfully I have run my own company before when I ran my own gym called Geek and Gamer Fitness, plus I have worked in business, sales, and marketing for over a decade. So I plan to write a bit about the real fundamentals that I think are important about being a Freelance Photographer. Some of these topics will include…
- Basic & Advanced Sales Techniques
- What is a CRM and how/when/should you use it
- Cold call techniques
- Where to really search for clients
- How to set your rates, and how to find clients that won’t make you discount yourself
- The care and feeding of editing photos