Freelance photography often seems like a relaxed, free-flowing industry to work in from the outside. But any freelance photographer who really wants their independent business to be successful will need to identify and master various business aspects and skills that will help them find success. You can’t just be creative to succeed in this industry – you also have to have a head for business!
Let’s break down the most important business aspects for any budding freelance photographer in more detail.
Funding and Pricing
Anyone starting a freelance photography business must familiarize themselves with the basics of smart funding and pricing. Specifically, you need to know how you’ll fund your business in the short term since it’s unlikely that you have enough clients right off the bat to quit your day job. So you’ll need a way to earn money in between your freelance photography jobs or have enough money saved up to last until you have an established client base.
Secondly, you should practice fair pricing for your skills. Don’t let clients barter you down to a price low enough that you don’t make a profit on their job. Make sure you can charge enough to earn a comfortable living while running your freelance photography business. Then learn how to raise your rates and give yourself a promotion!
Protection from Fraud/Client Scams
New freelance photographers must also familiarize themselves with fraud protection. This aspect of business is present in almost every industry, but it can be tough to grasp at first in the freelance sphere.
That’s because many new freelancers are desperate for clients and will take any new message as an opportunity for funding. Yet some ostensible freelancer-seekers are actually interested in taking advantage of your skills.
Make and stick with a photography contract template for your business. This will outline all the deliverables and prices involved in your work and prevent a client from taking advantage of you so easily.
Understanding Hours Billed and the Value of Your Skills
Along the same lines, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the business side of your skills. You might find photography incredibly fun – if you’re lucky, every day at work won’t even feel like you’re at work!
But in the business world, you need to know how to value and market your skills. Your photography talent is technically a commodity in its own right. Therefore, be sure that you bill your hours fairly and market your skills as hard-won specialties that took you years of schooling and practice to hone.
In other words, start treating your photography skills as business goods, not as a fun hobby.
Build a Great Website/Portfolio
Any good business needs an excellent storefront. If you’re running a primarily online freelance photography business, you’ll need to create an excellent website and digital portfolio to showcase your skills.
This does two things:
- It gives future clients a place to look at your work before hiring you for a job
- It demonstrates your professionalism and skill to the broader world
Both aspects are important for any new freelance business, but especially one based in the visual arts like photography. Be sure to hire a skilled website developer or use a good website builder. Your digital storefront should be as pristine and professional as a photography studio you might build in the real world.
Track and Schedule Time Tightly
Lastly, familiarize yourself with business time tracking and management. You can use tech tools and time management platforms if you like, but the bigger idea is to make sure that your hours are billed correctly and that you work a manageable amount every week.
Business-focused time management will prevent you from losing yourself in your freelance business and ensure that you strike a good work/life balance.
All in all, each of these business aspects is crucial for long-term success. Focus on each of them and your freelance photography efforts will be more profitable as well as more fun!