1. It’s not just photography, it’s business
Obviously, you’ve decided that you’ve got the photography skills to succeed but do you have the business skills? A lot of your work from here on in is going to be promotion, marketing, communicating with clients and basically being your own receptionist, administration, marketer and business manager. Sure you can outsource a lot of this work too but to begin with you probably won’t so you’re going to need some business skills to get going. Take a class, even photography courses can specialise in going freelance and give you the business skills you need to succeed on your own.
2. Your website is your first impression
The majority of your business is going to come straight from your website. Even if you’ve handed out business cards or have had some great word-of-mouth references, these clients will most likely go to your website and check out your portfolio before booking you for a gig. Invest in creating a user-friendly and beautiful looking website, increase traffic with a blog, social media and networking. If possible include rate estimates, as much contact information as possible and a spectacular portfolio of your work.
3. Create, create and create some more
One of the major pitfalls of going freelance is focusing so much on the business aspects and the clients that you forget what made you do it all in the first place. It’s vitally important to keep up your skills and learn new techniques, creating something every day. While it’s important to keep up the business side of things you also need to focus on your photography and not just what your clients get you to do either. Don’t only photograph for your clients, photograph for yourself.
4. Don’t sell yourself short
While many will tell you to work for free, in the initial stages if you don’t have a large enough portfolio then you can get it up to scratch by providing work for free, however once you have enough experience under your belt… do not work for free! When figuring out rates think about the time you’re putting in. Decide how much work you need to be paid by the hour and go from there. Factor in, not just the shooting time but the editing time, the time you spend marketing and getting new clients and the time you spend practicing. It’s also a good idea to work out how much a client is able to afford before working out the numbers. You don’t want to scare away clients by suggesting a price too high or work for less than you deserve.
5. Sell yourself
Don’t expect work to find you. While occasionally this may happen, you’ll mostly need to go out and source work for yourself. Advertise in your local market and contact nearby companies who may need professional photography services in your niche. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself and go looking for work. Finding work in the initial stages of freelancing can be your hardest job. Sell yourself and make sure your local market knows you’re out there!