There is nothing better than being paid for developing your artistic style and expressing yourself creatively. These are the perks of being a freelance photographer. Being your only boss gives you a lot of freedom and fulfillment, but you need a thorough plan that will act as a framework you can reference when you need direction and focus.
Starting your own business won’t be easy but you have to remember that the biggest part of being a professional photographer is loving what you do, believing in yourself and having confidence in your abilities.
Choose your equipment
There are some investments that you will need to manage when starting your own business. Whether you want to make exquisite photos to sell stock photos, or travel the world and take pictures of landscapes you have to understand: the better the quality the higher the price of your service. Some expenses are obvious and unavoidable such as obtaining a kit. The price of it can vary depending on what market you are targeting, how experienced you already are and how much you can allow yourself to spend.
A good kit with a series of lenses and various accessories will probably cost you around 3-5000 dollars. Canon and Nikon can be a good fit for you, Sony is also making its name thanks to its Alpha series. Either of these brands is a good choice.
Reach your target audience
Focus on your niche, what kind of subject you are drawn to. Do you want to be a wedding photographer or do you want to find your own style so that your photos can stand out in the crowd? Go with your instincts, don’t dabble in everything, see if you are more a food photographer or maybe a street life photographer, or what if you are good at taking portraits. It’s important to choose a good niche, like how this Virginia boudoir photographer chose the boudoir niche, as you want to target a certain market versus being too broad. Once you are set up with your niche, take your kit, go out and make amazing photos.
You are going to need a professional portfolio if you want your potential clients to take you seriously. Create a small website and present your photography abilities, update your social media accounts and work on uploading your photos into stock agencies such as Wirestock, Shutterstock, Adobe, and other stock photo marketplaces.
This may sound like a lot of work and effort but these all will pay off in the end. People want to see the service they are buying; this is why you have to be presentable on all those platforms to attract the right customers.
Via marketing you will brand your business and get new clients to purchase your services. Talk to professionals if you do not know how to create a good campaign and narrow your target audience’s demographics and psychographics.
This will make a clearer picture of whom you’re marketing to. You might wonder if it is necessary to spend lots of money on social media ads. But imagine you have an exquisite picture of a bride and groom on a romantic beach and you deliver that picture to people who are about to marry. How many of them will comment or DM you? What do you think?
The formal side and expenses
We have already talked about getting professional equipment for your business, but is that all? Like any business, freelance photography also needs a permit or license to operate in a certain state or city. If you are planning to run the business from home you will have to get a Home Occupancy Permit. Learn about the specifics of the law in your state and get started with formalizing your business.
Freelancers just like any other employers pay both federal and state taxes. This may seem somewhat confusing. This is why it will be a good idea to consult with an accountant whose experience and knowledge skills can help you save money.
When you set up prices for your services you will have to create a fee schedule. You need to consider how much you spend on each of your projects, including the time spent on the way to your destinations, so that you can ensure if you are going to make enough money for the job you do. Don’t worry there are many types of softwares (fotoQuote, BlinkBid) helping you to estimate the costs of projects and create invoices for your customers.
We talked about invoices and here it goes. Of course you have to know how to plan to collect fees from your clients. Cash is a good idea, but it would be better if you offered as many payment options as possible. If you want to accept credit cards for your services there are many useful apps and dongles that make it possible to process them from your smartphone. You can also set up payment methods on your website and accept a few types of online payment systems.
A day without learning something new is a lost day. Continuous education for freelance photographers is important, because you have to keep your skills sharp. Don’t miss a local photography workshop, or a good educational event, or an online course. In this way you will not only learn new skills but meet new people, exchange with experience and grow your network.
Boost your confidence
You should love and be confident in your job. You are a professional photographer and all you need is to show your potential clients that you can confidently deliver the service they want. Very soon you will learn what works and what does not in different situations. Experience comes with shoots.
With all of this information in mind, you are now officially ready to start your brand new journey as a freelance photographer! We all know how intimidating a beginning of a new business can be, and even a perfect plan can be changed during the process of working, yet always invest in yourself, have confidence and your business will flourish.
Don’t forget to update your portfolio with all the awesome shoots you have done.
Armen Bandari, content and marketing executive at Wirestock.