Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
FREELANCING / NOV. 28, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Succeed as a Freelance Photographer

A freelancer is someone who runs his or her own business. With the anemic economy, more and more people are turning to their talents and interests in an attempt to create extra income. A segment of this proud group are photographers, raring to make the leap from amateur to professional photography.

See also: 5 Easy Ways to Find Freelance Photographer Jobs  

Here are some things to keep in mind, to succeed as a freelance photographer.

Have the Right Equipment

This goes without saying. A photographer needs high quality equipment, both to handle the initial shoot and to provide enough material for the inevitable editing process. High quality digital cameras will have a high enough resolution to allow you to zoom in on certain details after the fact.

High quality software, for instance Adobe Photoshop, is vital for helping tweak photographs to match the client’s specifications. Equipment goes beyond the physical items and software used in business. Certifications in using the equipment and software are key. Clients are looking for experts when selecting the perfect photographer.

Advertise

In business, making the product or service is only a small part of the experience. If clients are not aware of the product, they will not buy it. After having your site professionally crafted, utilize an advertising firm to create a campaign designed to get your name out to the local market.

Google AdWords is a perfect example of this. The service offers targeted advertising, restricting the ads to areas you specify and only showing them to people explicitly looking for photographers.

Build a Portfolio Site

After a potential client learns of your existence, you still have to convince them to utilize your services. The best way to handle this is to show them what you have accomplished in the past. Numerous sites around the web offer portfolio building tools, though if you have your own site then it is best to host the photographs there. 

High quality examples are vital, being a key differential between you and the competition.

Have Clear Policies

Clients will try to walk all over you, both with regards to the price and the scope of your services. The only way to prevent this is to approach each job with a clearly understood contract, covering everything from what will be done to the amount that will be paid, and when.

It may be tempting to start a job based off a verbal contract, though in the case of an issue that immediately becomes a legal case of “he said, she said.” In short, a binding legal contract is the only way you have of protecting yourself as a professional.

A key stipulation for photographers revolves around intellectual property. Do not provide your clients with high quality files until after the job has been completed. Make it clear that you retain all rights to the images until payment has been rendered, and confirmed.

Invest in a Good Accountant

Running your own business means you will be responsible for handling all of the taxes that are incurred through daily operations. Sales taxes, self-employment taxes, federal, state, and local income taxes… All of that and more will need to be tallied up and handled on a quarterly basis.

A good accountant will help reduce the stress of handling the financial side of your business, and provide a good shield in case there is a mistake. The IRS typically waives all fees and legal penalties in instances where the accountant was at fault. As long as the overdue taxes are paid promptly, of course.

See also: Different Ways of Making Money as a Photographer  

Beyond that, having someone focus on the numbers will help prevent instances where clients are able to skip out on the bill due to you being too busy with other people. 

Image source: Australia Daily News Blog

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