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How to Be a Freelance Photographer – A Complete Guide

Mohamed Hesham

Deciding to become a Freelance photographer can be an easy task if photography is your passion. Say the word Freelancing and what will cross your mind is a picture of someone cladding on Pajamas, sited in front of a laptop or a Desktop computer in their house with a steaming cup of coffee making money.

Why freelancing?

There are several reasons why people jump into Freelancing as a Career. One of the reasons is the freedom of time, space and decision making that you get from being a Freelance Photographer.

However, there is much more on being a Freelancer than just being sited in front of a laptop tackling different orders and watching a stream of dollars in your bank account. One reason why most people turn into freelancing is because they have the freedom of working when they want. You have nobody manning you for the entire day and hence you can set the time of the day when you are especially comfortable to tackle different orders.

As a Freelancer, you have the freedom of adjusting your work time to that specific hour of the day when you are very comfortable and productive. The other thing is that as a Freelancer, you work wherever you want. With the increased connectivity, you can work from home, when traveling, from the park or even in another country when in vacation.

The third reason why many people are turning to Freelancing is because they can be their own boss. You know what you want to do and the most productive time of the day that you will tackle it. There’s nobody there watching over you and so you have the freedom to adjust your work time and work any time you want. You are the one who is in charge of the assignments you accept and hence you need to work hard and build the career that you started.

The reality of the matter is that being a freelancer gives you an opportunity to earn as much money as you want. You have the opportunity to charge what you want and wrestle as many orders as you want. The more effort you put the more money you will earn. You also have the opportunity to market yourself and attract more buyers. The more clients you have the more money you will make.

Who is a Freelance Photographer?

The simplest explanation that you can ever get for this statement is that a Freelance Photographer is a photographer who is his/her own boss. If you want to venture into this career, then you will look for clients and get orders by yourself. Freelance photographers can work in a wide range of fields to make money. Some of the fields included: Night clubs, urban journalism, traveling, weddings, parties and many more.

Freelance photography is the photography done on a contract basis as opposed to working for an employer. Freelance photographers work on a contract basis and get paid for the services provided. One thing that you are supposed to note is that being a Freelance photographer is more than just taking photos. Some of the most experienced photographers find themselves doing other things other than just taking photos. A Freelance photographer will have a business dealing with clients, marketing themselves, paying deals and estimates among many other things.

How to become a Freelance photographer?

If you have a passion in taking clear and high quality photos, you should start on this. Although it is a little complicated, it is a very beneficial venture. That’s because your success doesn’t rest on just taking photographs. There are several other channels of making money that you are projected into. In this brief, I am going to share the most important steps in starting as a freelance photographer.

The personal and technical skills required to be a freelance photographer

A job as a Freelance photographer falls under the wider category of Photographers. Just like other skills out there, Freelance photographers must possess some of personal and technical know-how to thrive in this career.

Educational skills

It doesn’t require rocket science to take high quality photos. What this means is that you can take photos even if you don’t own any degree or diploma in Photography. However, if you have the passion and the will to develop in this career path and become a Photojournalist, an industrial photographer or a scientific photographer, you must at least hold a diploma in photography or any course related to the field in which the photographer seeks employment.

Photography courses are offered by several universities, communities or junior collages. You can as well get a photography course from vocational-technical institute, private trade and technical schools. This will ensure you have all the knowledge required to operate equipment, the process of taking photography and the techniques of being unique and a father-figure in the industry.

Personal attributes
  • Opportunism

You need to be an expert in this career and stand out as an opportunist. Grasp every opportunity whether large or small. This is a large part of achieving better than average photographs in a creative and a technical manner.

  • Communication skills

You need to possess the ability to listen, take on-board feedbacks, ask questions, and answer questions in a clear manner and also share ideas critically with your clients. Clear communication here is key. The reason for this is that you are going to consider the opinions and the objectives of the clients and their clients to make the whole process a success.

  • Creativity

Photography is all about creative ideas. Your creativity is what will pinpoint your skills from a pool of other experienced Photographers. Just know the importance of having a creative mind in developing a portfolio. The same creativity is needed when pricing, promoting and when marketing your job.

Organizational skills

It is important for you to be able to manage your schedules and orders and allow plenty of time for each session. The reason why organizational skills are especially important is to ensure you avoid being overworked and on the other hand be able to meet the demands of all your clients.

Time management

Time management is key in every Freelancing activity. You don’t have someone to man or even supervise you and hence if you are not a good time manager, you will end up failing some of your clients. You will be dealing with several clients at the same time and you have to meet all of their turnaround time for the specific projects. What this means is that in order to keep your clients satisfied, you need to be a good time manager.

How to acquire and develop these skills?

What if you don’t possess the above skills and still want to be a Freelance Photographer. The good thing is that most of the above skills can be learnt in school or through practice and experience.

  • Get on the job training

This is especially the first thing that you should do before you branch out on your own. You first of all have to ensure that you have acquired all the needed technical knowledge in operating the equipment and taking quality photos. You also need to learn how to edit photos before sending to clients and many more.

  • Enter some contests

The reason for this is to gauge your personal, interpersonal and technical skills with those of the competitors. If you win, you can be sure that you are an expert in this field and all you need to do is boost what you have.

  • Keep on Practicing

In Photography, what matters is the practice. Maybe you don’t know something today but if you practice and ensure you are on the track every time, you will end up being a pro in this field.

  • Join a Photography group

This is another method to ensure you keep being challenged every time. If you stay on your own, you will always be number one and never advance the skills you have. You can organize with other photographers and get into a photography group to share ideas and challenge yourselves from time to time.

  • You should as well be a Customer Service Ninja

Know how to handle your clients and how to approach any conflict that may fall between the two of you. Keep in contact with the clients before appointments and keep emailing them throughout the process. If there is something that needs clarification, then each of you should get clear on it.

Step by step guide on venturing in Freelance Photography

Choose a Specialty

You have to specialize in different types of photography such as weddings, news, parties and other special occasions. However, if you are a Freelance photographer, you can choose a specialty to concentrate on. This doesn’t mean you should settle for one specialty. If you offer more services, you are likely to get more jobs. If you want to be successful in this venture, advertise yourself as an event and a portrait photographer to increase your chances of getting an order.

Know the business

The reality of the matter is freelance photography is more than just taking photos. There are several things that you are supposed to do to make your business known and get the best out of it. You need to get familiar with some of the basics in this venture and ensure you keep updated on several things that can affect your business. You need to understand that customer needs keep on changing and hence you have to make changes where needs arise.

Get a Business License

There is no job you can run without a license. Like any other job, freelance photography needs a license to work without stress. You need to get a license to operate in the city or the home town. The good thing is that you just need a general business permit to start on this. On the other hand, if you are running your business out of your home, you need a Home Occupancy permit. What I mean here is that you shouldn’t start taking photos if you don’t have the necessary licenses and permits.

Set fees

This is the next step that you are supposed to tackle before you start lining up clients. You need to know how much you plan to charge for your services. For this reason, you should factor out different aspects of your business including equipment expenses, taxes and operation fees. You should as well consider all the time that goes into servicing each order and place a price that both you and the client will be happy about.

Build a portfolio

If you don’t market yourself, nobody will ever know you exist. What this means is that you need to market yourself. It is an impressive collection of photos that you can show off to prospective clients. If you are a beginner in photography, try looking for photos to show out to your clients for your portfolio. You can request your family for a picture and post it for your portfolio. Remember to reconsider your audience before you start building your portfolio.

Create a website

You need a website to showcase your works if you are just starting on it. Getting a site as a beginner in Freelance photography is also the process of making your clients get in touch with you. You can get a website to showcase your work and at the same time allow your potential customers get in touch with you. Schedule your services and ensure you submit quality works to keep them coming. A powerful tool that can help you build a website and place it in the top of the search engines is Wealthy Affiliate.

Market yourself

Establish social media accounts to help you market your services. You have all the freedom to pick and choose the project to work on. What this means is that you have to pick those projects and ensure you market yourself to get more clients and make more money. Get blogging, it will help you connect with the clients  and positioning you as a commander in the market. Optimize your contents for SEO, Localize your listings and also leverage social media to ensure you stand out from the pool of other Freelance photographers.

Participate in contests

Contests will not only help you enhance your skills, they will also expose you to some potential clients and make your skills known by majority in the public. That is why participating in contests is a great self marketing resource.

How to face the very high competition in the market and gain your initial customers as a freelancer?

There is a strong competition in this business. There are several individuals and companies entering the field each day. What this means is that you should be strategic and adopt some of the best and most reliable mechanisms to beat this competition. Here are some of the best ways to beat competition and gain freelancer’s initial customers.

Get a Memorable Logo

This is the first thing that you should do before you start your photography. This Logo will be visible in all your advertisements, products, services and also inside and the outside of your photography studio. Take enough time to design your logo and make it unique and attractive.

Market yourself

Marketing your business is one of the best ways of ensuring you stand out in the pool of other freelance photographers. It will make your services known to the public. It will as well give the public a mechanism to reach you for more inquiries and make orders.

Turn into a brand

There’s nothing that will make your business successful quickly than turning it into a brand. This is what will give you a better competitive edge and also make your work unique. To build a brand, you have to cultivate your business relationship with the clients and also brand your business name.

Network like there’s no tomorrow

If you want to attain new business relationships, then network like you won’t do it tomorrow. Be a member of several clubs and groups and also know various contacts. When you network, you meet new people who didn’t know about your services and make them understand the whole idea. They are potential clients and hence they are likely to contact you when there is need for your services.

Make Business cards

This is another method of ensuring previous and new clients keep the name of your business in their mouths. Print business cards and spread them like you won’t do it tomorrow. Give it to clients every time you deliver their order and encourage them to spread the word.

Provide high quality services

Clients will never forget someone that made their projects a success. They will always come back to you whenever there is another project. They will as well refer their friends and family to you whenever they have related projects.

How to advance in your career and become one of the best and most recommended freelance photographers?

Now that you are in this career, there are several things that you should do to remain influential and ensure circumstances don’t throw you out of the market.

Beware of time stealers

Getting caught up into trying to sweat for things that don’t matter is a vermin to the photography community. Concentrate on things that matter and those that are likely to impact your business positively.

Manage your finances

One reason you are in this business is to make money. Freelance Photography is a business like any other and hence you should have different business accounts. This will ensure that you don’t inter-use money for personal expenses and that from the business.

Value Repeat Clients

Repeat buyers are the main factor for your success. Ensure you maintain a good relationship at all costs. Appreciate them and if possible give them discounts for subsequent orders.

Be committed

Never give up. Commit most of your time in growing your business and the fruits will be awesome. Always maintain the quality of your services.

Be up to date

The technological world is dynamic and is likely to change from time to time. Be keen on changes and ensure you are up to date with the equipment, tools and the skills needed.

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