Freelance photography offers a lot of potential benefits to people considering it as a career path offering flexibility, creativity, and financial rewards.
However, building a support base of paying clients is a challenge every photographer must overcome on the path towards a rewarding photography career.
As high-quality cameras become more accessible to the average smartphone user, and countless amateurs explore how to monetize their snaps, competition levels are at an all-time high.
However, so are the number of channels and methods that photographers can pursue to build an audience and client base for their work.
Here are five ways you can find work as a freelance photographer.
1. Find direction
Without having a clear direction in mind for your photography it will be difficult for you to build a coherent portfolio that gives potential clients a clear idea of what you have to offer.
Landing on a portfolio that includes fashion photography, interiors, product photography and some landscape photography thrown into the mix won’t convince viewers of your versatility, it will just confuse them.
With that in mind consider what you are passionate about and which photography niches bring out the best in you.
Focusing on one or two of those and building up your portfolio is going to be the first step in finding work as a photographer.
And most likely this will mean working for free initially.
For example, if you’re a food photographer and there’s a restaurant near you that has a drab menu, you can offer to help them revamp their menu free of charge.
Once you have got a strong portfolio under your belt, the next step is to get your portfolio professionally reviewed by an art director, creative director, or portfolio coach.
Although there are likely to be some costs involved, this is a critical step. Without taking this step you’re going to live with constant uncertainty over whether your portfolio is strong enough for what you want to achieve.
Once you have a solid portfolio, make it accessible online. Whether by creating a website to showcase your images or by using a 3rd part portfolio service.
2. Cold approaches
Nobody likes cold approaching potential clients, but without a network you’re going to have to make the first move when building a client base.
How you do this will depend on what photography niche you are targeting.
If you are an interior photographer, real estate agencies are a good option to target as they constantly require new images for their listings.
Draw a 20km radius around where you live and run online searches for all realtor offices within that radius.
Chances are you will come up with dozens of different realty companies. For each of these obtain the contact numbers for the agency as well as their email address.
Then, take a deep breath and reach out to the people you have listed.
A common tactic is to send a mail to each address in your list, introducing yourself and what you have to offer, including a link to your portfolio.
Once you have done that, wait a week and call the contact number for the company to follow up on your email. Make a direct human connection and it will be harder for potential clients to simply ignore you.
Whatever you do, do not work off mass email or contact number lists that are sold online. The contact details on this list are likely buried in a deluge of spam, and there will be nothing to separate your approach from the torrent of spam the people on these lists have to deal with.
3. Freelancer websites
There are several websites that allow freelancers, including photographers, to apply for jobs or contracts.
Your options here include:
1. Upwork. This is one of the world’s largest freelance hubs, used by millions of businesses. You can find hundreds of photography work listings here at any given moment.
2. Freelancer. The name says it all. This is one of the biggest players in the freelance gig market, and you can enter competitions to get contracts, bid on contracts, or get headhunted by businesses active on the platform.
3. Cherrydeck. Cherrydeck is a platform that was custom-built for freelance photographers and videographers to connect with potential clients. Instead of using the site to find jobs, Cherrydeck helps jobs to find you.
4. Stock libraries
While stock libraries are not the most glamorous option for freelance photographers they offer a couple of benefits:
1. Stock sites like Shutterstock make it simple for freelancers to become contributors. It’s super easy to get your foot in the door.
2. You will get a share of the revenue generated every time one of your images is downloaded.
3. Stock libraries are a great opportunity to get your photography seen and to build up your image portfolio.
While you shouldn’t expect to make a fortune off stock libraries, they can be used to generate a steady trickle of revenue while you build up your brand and business.
5. Digital marketing
Developing some basic digital marketing game can accelerate your career progress as a freelance photographer.
There are several channels you can target, most of which offer free training in how to use their marketing tools.
- Running Google Ads that will appear to potential clients searching for photography services on Google. Note that you’ll need a website to use this platform.
- Running Facebook or Instagram ads targeting specific demographics that may have an interest in your service – for example commercial photographers can target business owners.
- Creating a profile for your business on LinkedIn and running ads on that platform to target business owners. If you’re a portrait photographer you’ll have access to a massive pool of job applicants who may want professional portrait photos for their resumes.
Track your results accurately and you’ll quickly get a sense of which of these channels offers you the best return on your marketing spend. Hit a sweet spot in your digital marketing strategy and you’ll be dealing with a steady flow of leads.
Ready to start your journey towards a career in professional photography? Join Cherrydeck now, create a profile, and get seen by hundreds of businesses searching for professional photographers.