There are lots of people who dream of working as a professional photographer. But while many people have a very romantic view of the life of a professional photographer, the reality is often quite different.
Of course, if you love photography, then any photography role is going to be fulfilling for you. If you want to make a living from photography, however, you have to be prepared to work for it. Here’s what you need to know going in.
What Are Your Goals?
It is always better to have clear goals and objectives to aim for. Staying motivated is important if you want to work as a freelancer, and you will find it difficult to stay motivated if you don’t have any kind of overarching goal to work towards.
There is nothing wrong with having grand long-term goals that you want to pursue. If you aspire to have your artistic photographs hanging in museums one day, then this is what you should aim for. However, it is important that you are able to break these long-term goals into shorter and more immediately achievable steps. If you cannot see a clear path from where you are now to completing your goals, your aspirations are not going to count for much.
What motivates you?
If you want to succeed as a professional photographer, then you need to be motivated. Being passionate about photography is one thing, but no matter how passionate and talented you are, if you can’t keep yourself motivated and focused on your long-term goals, you are going to struggle to thrive in business terms. On the other hand, people who have a clear roadmap from the beginning of their career have a much better chance of staying motivated.
Where do you want to work?
Being a professional photographer can mean a number of different things. Some professional photographers work as freelancers, searching out their own opportunities and working for themselves.
On the other hand, some people want to establish a photography business where the proprietor is one of a number of photographers on staff, offering their services to paying clients. There are also lucrative staff positions available within larger organizations and businesses that require photography services on a regular basis.
In addition, there are a large number of professional photography roles out there that are hybrid roles, whereby you work as an independent contractor, albeit with the promise of regular work. The more flexible you are in terms of the arrangements that you are willing to consider, the more opportunities there will be available to you.
What Are Your Terms?
Whatever setting you work in it is always worth having a formal written agreement with your clients. This agreement should set out exactly what services you will be providing to your client and the payment that you will receive. An agreement is also a good way of setting out procedures for dealing with common issues that the client might have.
For example, it is worth laying out a process for your clients to follow should they not be satisfied with the work you produce. Naturally, no one plans on producing bad work or creating problems for their clients, but no matter how hard you try, there is always the potential for this to happen. It is much better to have a policy already in place before that occurs – don’t wait for things to go wrong before you act.
How Will You Market Yourself?
The fewer resources you have to work with, the more creative you need to be when devising a marketing strategy. If you are just starting out as a freelance photographer, the way that you market yourself will determine how quickly you are able to turn photography from a hobby into a stable career path. Don’t be under any illusions, no matter how talented you are. You need to be able to promote yourself and put your work out there. If you aren’t actively promoting yourself, you cannot expect opportunities to come to you by magic.
The good news is that you don’t need huge cash reserves in order to put together a worthwhile marketing campaign. In fact, some of the best marketing is also the cheapest. All of your marketing should point towards a website and an online portfolio. Anywhere someone sees an advert for your business online, they should be able to click on it and be taken to your website.
But placing adverts online can quickly get expensive, especially if you want to target social media platforms. A much cheaper way of exploiting platforms like Facebook for advertising is to look for user groups and join a couple. If there are any local groups for photographers, it is worth keeping an eye on them as people will sometimes turn to these when they want to hire a professional photographer. The best types of groups to join will depend on the kind of photography work that you are hoping to do.
What Are You Going To Do About A Website?
A professional website is essential for any photographer working today. There are two key functions of a photographer’s website, to showcase their work in an online portfolio, and to provide a central point of contact between them and their clients or fans.
Building a professional website has never been easier. While the costs of a professional web developer are more than justified, it is also perfectly possible to build your own website thanks to the availability of intuitive web design platforms like WordPress or Format.
Format is a web design platform that makes it easy to build professional photography portfolio websites. Not only can you build a sleek online portfolio, but you can attach your own custom URL to it so that it is easy to share with others. It is impossible to overstate the importance of a professional website to any photographer working today. If you are serious about working as a professional photographer in any capacity than you need to have an online portfolio that you can instantly direct any potential clients towards
Freelance Or Business?
As a professional photographer, you can either work as a freelancer or you can work for a business. There are advantages and drawbacks to both approaches, the best one for you will depend upon your individual circumstances and your long-term goals. For example, as a freelancer, you will have the freedom to pursue the job opportunities that you want. Freelancers have more freedom than photographers who are working a salaried role under contract. However, that freedom comes at a cost.
If you want to make it as a freelance photographer, then you need to be able to manage all the various aspects of your professional life on your own. You will be responsible for finding your own work, managing your own finances, and ensuring that your business remains viable. If you don’t think that you will be able to manage the challenges of working as a freelancer, it might be worth gaining some experience working for an existing business. You can always pursue a freelancing career later.
There are plenty of opportunities out there for professional photographers today. However, there are also lots of people competing for available photography jobs. If you want to stand out from the crowd and make it to the top, you will have your work cut out for you.