It’s important to think about the process before you decide to become a freelance photographer. It’s like building a house, you wouldn’t necessarily just dive right in. There are certain things that you should have in place before jumping into the project. The same can be said about photography. It can be both a creative and financially rewarding business, but it can also be challenging. We are going to walk you through some of these challenges you might run into.
It may take weeks or even months in order to get paid for the first time. Make sure that you have some money in the bank in order to cover you for a few months. This buffer will stop you from worrying when the quiet spells happen or unforeseen expenditure is required.
Having a list of good creatives at your disposal is paramount when you are a freelance photographer. It can be helpful in any industry. You will be responsible to hire people to work with you, so it’s important that you be able to pick the right ones. You can’t be seen as taking risks for unknown creatives during an important photo shoot. Which is why having a network of people that you know and can work with is extremely important.
If you can have some clients in place before you quit your day job, you will be in a better place. Hanging out your “photographer” shingle doesn’t automatically mean you will get clients. Start planting those seeds long before you actually transition into a freelancer. Set up meetings with clients and doing shoots in the evenings, on weekends and on your days off.
A Portfolio and Website
Both a portfolio and a website are a must when you become a freelance photographer. People are going to want to see your work. How else will they know that they want to hire you? You can have a portfolio in the form of a physical book, or you can use a tablet. How many photos you choose to include in your portfolio is up to you. If you’re trying to get more wedding clients, show pictures of the weddings that you’ve done. Having more photos available will help you get hired.
Many people will make a decision around whether they want to hire you or not, based on your website. And this will happen long before they even meet you. If a potential client visits your website and finds unfinished pages or worse – there is no website at all – you likely won’t get hired. Get a website in place long before you decide to go freelance. The sooner you get that website up and running, the faster you will be able to build up SEO.
This might seem like an obvious one but you really do need the photography gear required to do the jobs you want to be hired for. This absolutely needs to be in place before you actually go freelance. Of course, you can buy additional things along the way but the bulk of your gear should really be bought while you still have the security of a regular paycheck coming in.
Having a mentor in the industry can take you a long way. You don’t have to be extremely close with the person, but having someone to answer your questions along the way could really help accelerate your career and help you avoid any major pitfalls.
An Idea of What to Charge
You also need to have an idea of what the market will pay freelancers in the areas that you plan to work in. Not only will this help you to understand what sort of money you can make but knowing ballpark figures will ensure you’re not a million miles away when quoting for work. It’s all well and good wanting to charge $10,000 a day but if everyone else only charges $1000 in your area then you might struggle to find work. Likewise, if you charge too little you’ll either go bust before you know it or those risk-averse clients I mentioned earlier will run for the hills and not hire you. This is one area that you could consult with your mentor about.
You might want to factor in things like health insurance as this is an example of something vitally important to your work. Especially if you are leaving a job with health insurance security. In addition, you will need to make sure that you have the correct liability and equipment insurance in place. Insurance is your responsibility when you work for yourself and not understanding what is needed could be dire to your business.
These are a few things that you should consider in advance of becoming a freelancer. This isn’t intended to discourage you from following their dreams, but simply to provide you with a realistic idea of things to consider in advance of taking that plunge. It’s an exciting time in your life if you’re considering becoming a freelancer, just make sure you’re doing it in a way that mitigates any major risks.