If you want to make it as a freelance photographer, you’re going to need more than talent with a camera. Surviving as a freelancer means tending to the business side of things as well as the creative—you need both to be a successful freelancer. Here are five simple things to remember that will help you knock it out of the park.
1. Invest In Equipment
The adage that you need to spend money to make money is just as true for you as a freelance photographer as it is for any other business person. If you aren’t willing to spend the money on quality equipment, it shows a lack of ambition, commitment, and professionalism. Remember, you should give your clients the best experience possible when they use your business. If a client is paying you to take photos for them, part of what they are paying for is access to that professional camera equipment.
As well as the camera itself, it is worth investing in proper photo editing software. Yes, we all know that you can easily download a knock-off version of Photoshop, but there is no need when there are open source alternatives like GIMP. Whichever software you choose, you should go about acquiring it the right way. Remember, this is your business, and in your business, it is worth doing everything correctly.
If circumstances are forcing you to work on a budget, you can always look into second-hand camera equipment. Used camera equipment can often produce just as good results as a new camera can, so you won’t be sacrificing quality if you choose to buy second-hand.
Finally, remember that your business hinges upon your ability to take photos. It is worth getting your camera insured. If your camera were to break or have a default, you don’t want it to put you out of action for a long time. That puts you in the unenviable position of either having to buy a new camera or having to downgrade.
2. Build A Professional Website
When you are trying to make it as a freelance photographer, you need to be able to effectively promote yourself and your services. Anyone can put together a free website today with ease, but it is worth taking a few extra steps in the name of professionalism.
For example, many free website builders will leave you with an unnatural and unwieldy URL. You want a custom URL that you can set as you please. Ideally, you want a URL that is either just your name or the name of your business. Having a simple URL makes it easy for you to share it with other people and makes it easier for them to remember.
Be sure to build a photography portfolio site that includes both a portfolio of your work and a full website around it. And don’t forget to optimize your website for mobile viewing. If you build your website with HostGator, you have so many options for how you want your site to look. They offer both hosting and building opportunities for your website, and you can even interface with easy-to-use platforms such as WordPress. Check out HostGator now!
3. Establish Your Rates
One of the first big decisions that any freelance photographer needs to make is how much they are going to charge for their services. In most cases, if you look online, you should be able to quite easily find what the standard rate is for the services that you are offering. Prices will vary according to the type of work that you are going to be doing and the experience that you have.
It is important to come to grips with what constitutes realistic rates as soon as possible. You also need to work out how your rates are going to scale. It is standard practice to reduce the cost per order on larger orders.
It is a good idea to give yourself some wiggle room on your rates. You may well want to give your biggest customers long-term discounts, for example. There may also be some standard client stipulations that add to the cost of a job.
4. Always Have A Contract
One of the great things about working as a freelancer is that you are free to pursue the things that interest you. However, it is always worth having a contract in place between you and a client whenever you are doing work for them. A formal written agreement will eliminate any ambiguity of what is expected of you and what you expect from the client.
You should avoid making up rates and policies on the spot. Instead, you should know your business inside out. Be confident in the services you offer. You can be flexible within reason, but be willing to stand firm and implement a contract whenever you can.
5. Stay On Top Of Your Finances
Being a freelancer means that you are responsible for managing every aspect of your own professional life. If you want to survive as a freelancer, you have to stay on top of your finances.
For freelancers, this is a lot more difficult than it sounds. You might be an incredibly talented photographer, perhaps even a master of the craft, but that that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re any good at managing money.
When you work a regular job with a salary, things like taxes are simpler. Freelancers have no such luck. You have to remember to put aside some of whatever money you make to cover future taxes.
The good news is that there are apps and software that make managing your finances as a freelancer a hell of a lot easier. Once you get into the habit of being organized, it’s not nearly as difficult as you think. If you are willing to learn to make friends with Microsoft Excel or Google sheets, you will find they offer pretty much everything that you need to manage your finances as a freelancer.
BONUS: Take Control Of Your Marketing
Another vital skill that you need to survive as a freelancer is a knack for marketing yourself. Of course, you have the same options as small businesses when it comes to hiring outside help your marketing. However, if you can learn to market yourself effectively, you can save an enormous amount of money without having to sacrifice trade.
Working as a freelance photographer is not easy, but it does mean that you get to do the thing that you love for a living. In the case of aspiring photographers, freelancing means that you get paid to take photos, and often edit or retouch them. For some people, this is a dream come true. However, no matter what level you are doing your photography at, if you are making money from it, you need to have all of the above at the top of your mind.