Starting a freelance photography business can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You get to do what you love and, at the same time, have the freedom to work on your terms and schedule.
Whether you’re looking to specialize in fashion photography, portrait photography, or nature photography, there are endless opportunities to showcase your unique skills and style.
But as with any business venture, starting a freelance photography business requires careful planning and preparation.
From building a portfolio to branding your profile, there are many essential steps to take to ensure your success in this niche.
We are going to discuss some essential tips and tricks for starting your freelance photography business. So grab your camera, and let’s dive in!
Benefits of starting a freelance photography business
Starting a freelance photography business gives you flexibility. You can work on your terms, the rates that you determine, and the people you wish to work with.
In the beginning, sure, the road to autonomy can be bumpy. Finding reliable clients and consistent work is challenging.
But once you move to the next stage, you have that experience and clientele that want to work with you; things start to smooth out.
Do you want to work early in the morning? You can. Do you want to burn the midnight oil? You can.
This is specifically true in the niche where no to fewer people are involved during work hours. For example, product photography.
But this freedom to choose your time, a place to work, and people to work with makes the freelance photography business 100% worth it.
For all the work you do, all credits are due to you. You own every piece of it and hence the reward of it as well.
Oftentimes, ownership of the work is the main reason why many photographers choose to start a freelance photography business of their own.
They want to work on their terms, build a personal brand, as well as get rewarded accordingly.
And yes, complete ownership also comes with its own challenges. But if you are someone who looks forward to them, this is the right path for you.
Growth can be stagnant in jobs. That means consistency with time, but not the effort you put in.
But on the other side, businesses are scalable. The more you work, the more effort you put in, and you start seeing better outcomes.
While a job might offer you a monthly or commission-based payout, they would never come close to the benefits of starting a freelance photography business and scaling it.
For all the work you do—you set your price and deliverables. That means you can test multiple pricing and be sure that you get paid according to your best potential.
Additionally, you don’t even have to do all the work by yourself as well. If photography is part of the business you love, you can focus only on that.
But to deliver an exceptional experience to your customers, you can outsource editing to professional photo editing services like PixelPhant.
Security as a freelancer? This might not be as straightforward as you think, but hear me out. If you are laid off from your job, you might lose your only source of earnings.
This is a scary situation to be in. It might be the only source of income you were relying on. But in the case of a freelance photography business, you are not relying on one source or one client.
You work with multiple clients and keep looking for new opportunities to onboard.
Even if one of your clients drops off, you can be at a bit of ease knowing you have others onboard with you.
Sure, losing a client will affect your revenue. But it won’t simply put a hold on the entirety of your income.
When discussing ownership, we talked about rewards. Building a personal brand is one of those rewards.
Brands want to work with people who align with them. As a freelance photographer, if your personal brand does align, you stand out from your competition by a mile.
It’s you who brands want to work with. This credibility further helps build a network you can rely on for work and growth.
In today’s world, your brand is your most essential asset. It helps you connect with people like you and grow along with them.
Starting a freelance photography business is the very right spot where you get all these benefits.
Tips for starting a freelance photography business
Share your work enthusiastically
You want people to know you for your work. It is important to tell people about what you are starting.
It might be as simple as simple posting on Instagram or getting a shoutout from photography pages. A positive review from a client? Way better
The more frequent you are, the more people will start noticing your work. And that initial recognition is really important to start a freelance photography business.
Also, when sharing your work, share a word about your starting a freelance photography business.
You can do this by adding a line about it in your about section as well as in the caption of your work. Tell people about the fact that you are doing photography professionally and are up for hire.
Sharing your work publicly is the first step that will help you build a network for your work. As a freelance photographer, you must use it and show off the work you are doing.
And if you haven’t started already, get to it. Forget about optimizing your feed or following a singular theme to make it “look professional”. Just actively share your work and then slowly optimize what you post at other times.
Tap into your network for work
If you don’t already have a network, the first step will definitely work on it. Sharing your work will be the first step.
For a freelance photography business, networking is a way to get more work and find people you would enjoy working with.
This could be your social media network, people you have worked with in the past, friends, family or maybe even someone new within your niche.
The best part about working with a network is that they already know you. They have seen your work and are sure of your credibility.
Additionally, they become the best kind of marketing channel for your business. That is, word-of-mouth marketing, where they refer you to people who are looking for your services.
Here, rather than starting from scratch, you can start a freelance photography business from a network you are already part of.
If you don’t have a network, you can also start working on that from scratch. Connect with people and join communities you want to work with. Show them what you can do and ask if they need your service.
Build a portfolio
For a freelance photography business, a portfolio is an ultimate resume that you can share. And building a portfolio doesn’t need to be complicated as well.
A portfolio is a collection of your best work. It can be for a client or something that you did on your own. All you need to create a good portfolio.
For this, you can use any format. You can create a digital photography portfolio, or you can create a physical portfolio.
Further, you can create a website of your own or can simply use Instagram as your portfolio.
All you need to understand is your portfolio is a collection of your work. If you can present in a way that’s easy to go through and impactful to the viewer—it will help your freelance photography business exceptionally.
Stand out with your deliverables
Capturing good photographs is just one part of the business. To stand out, one needs to find what customers are looking for in a photography contract.
A few examples of add-ons could be 1-week delivery, post-paid invoicing, first 10 images free for corporations, retouching service etc.
The point here is to deliver an experience to your customers that’s hard to find anywhere else. For example, if you are an e-commerce photographer, rather than sending RAW, unprocessed file
Become a niche expert
Photography is a vast field in which people look for specialists. Be it product photography, model photography, editorial photography, lookbook photography, and more.
From the outside all these are part of commercial photography, but if you want to work with major brands, you need to present yourself as an expert in at least one niche.
Choosing a niche won’t restrict you from working in the field of photography. Instead it would help you stand out. And once you connect with the customer, you can also upsell other photography services.
For example, presenting yourself as a professional streetwear photographer will surely stand out due to your specific niche. When a customer contacts you, you can also show you work in social media photography, editorial photography or any other niche of work they might be interested in.
Here, you avoided a lot of competition by presenting yourself in a very specific niche. This made it easy for customers to find you. But wait, you also convinced them of additional services, hence making your freelance photography business more successful.
Work on your personal brand
As a freelance photographer, your personal brand is your branding. Brands will want to work with you because of who you are and what kind of work interests you.
If you are interested in sports and athleticism, you will see a lot of brands in the same niche connecting with you. Why? Because it makes it easy for them to explain what they are looking for.
For the same reasons, it is highly advised to work on your personal brand. This is through the mediums of websites, your social media, people you interact with in a professional setting, and the way you communicate.
Your personal brand includes everything. From people you work with to people, you follow on the internet.
And the best way to build your personal brand is to start putting yourself out there. Your work, your interests, and your likes. In the start, you don’t need to be calculated as well.
Just share what you enjoy, the work you are doing and that’s it. This will build a brand, and that’s what will help you get more work.
Starting a freelance photography business might sound overwhelming at first, but with the right tools, resources, and mindset, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Remember to take the time to build a strong portfolio, invest time in learning and experimenting, set competitive rates, create your brand, and market yourself effectively.
Above all, stay passionate and committed to your craft, and never stop learning and growing as a photographer, regardless of the niche you select to build your portfolio.
With these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful freelance photography business and pursuing your dreams. So go ahead and capture the beauty of the world through your lens, and enjoy the journey!
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