Freelance photography is a burgeoning career path that provides numerous benefits. You can set your hours, you get to attend social events and connect with interesting people, and you get to express your artistic side behind the camera lens. But building a livable career as a photographer is a lot easier said than done. With the job market for freelance photographers becoming increasingly saturated, it’s getting harder to find consistent work and build your brand as a professional photographer. Here are five tips to help jumpstart your photography career.
First things first, get your equipment. Sure, any smartphone today has a camera capable of taking professional photos. Having said that, you’ll want to invest in a few choice accessories, including different focal length lenses, a monopod or tripod, portable backup power, and so on. If you are still unsure about whether or not professional photography is the right career for you, rent this equipment for your first couple of gigs, so you don’t have to sink a large amount of capital into items you’ll end up returning to the store.
Any freelance profession, be it photographer, web developer, or accountant, needs its dedicated professional website to attract new customers and build a brand following. The easiest way to set up a website is by using one of many website builders available today, such as Weebly, Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace. These website builders are free to use and allow you to create a professional-looking website without having to go through the whole web development learning curve. Remember that your website will serve as your digital calling card, so think carefully about customer-facing features, including domain name, logo, content, and style of writing.
Running a photography business means that you’ll be wearing different hats, including the accountant hat that monitors cash flow and the marketer hat that makes sure you have a steady supply of new leads coming in. These are all important roles, but they also tend to pull focus and energy away from the craft that you are trying to build on. Automating as many of the repetitive tasks and actions that you have to manually perform every day can help streamline your business operations. For instance, use a free boudoir questionnaire form to easily ask important questions to your clients before they book a shoot with you. Other processes you can automate include invoice reminders, bill payments, website traffic monitoring, email marketing blasts, and content posted on social media.
Perhaps the simplest way to start a career as a photographer is to go outside and start taking photos. Not only does this let you refine your photography skills, but you can also meet new people, which you can convert into future clients. Be sure to go out to places and photograph topics that correspond to your chosen subject matter or photography niche. For instance, if you’ve decided to specialize in nature photography, you can walk to your nearest park and start shooting trees, flowers, birds, and the landscape. If you want to specialize in social events, volunteer your photography services next time one of your coworkers is getting married or your friend is throwing a party.
To sustain your newfound profession as a photographer, you need to treat the craft as a business rather than just a hobby. Unfortunately, many inexperienced entrepreneurs and freelancers tend to treat it as a hobby, sometimes without even knowing that they’re doing it. One way to make sure you have a business rather than a hobby is to set SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, goals. An example of a SMART goal from a photography business context is to reach out to 10 leads per day or do at least one gig per week.
Becoming a professional photographer is a dream job for many, especially if you start working for bigger clients, like National Geographic or Reader’s Digest. But the road to a well-established photography career is fraught with challenges. Use the tips aforementioned in this article to improve your chances of earning a living with a craft that you are passionate about.