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Surviving life as a freelance photographer

Surviving life as a freelance photographer

Freelance photography is one of the most underrated professions that exist today. Since you don’t work for a studio, a magazine, or a newspaper, people look at your job as some sort of hobby. They don’t take you seriously, and they only see you like some kid with an excellent camera. You have no steady income and because of this, even your loved ones won’t put a high regard for your talent behind the lens. Worse, they completely discourage you in pursuing your dream.

We can’t blame them. The world is ruthless and unless you’re someone as good as Steve McCurry who can animate people through incredible portraits, it would be so hard to stand out and gain recognition through your shots.

It’s hard, but not impossible.

Just like every other job, working as a freelance photographer has its pros and cons.

Freelance photographers have the freedom of time. In exchange for this freedom, you will not get a secured paycheck if you do not produce anything worth paying. Having no authorities to follow also means having to be self-directed, marketing your own brand, sending pitches, and doing everything on your own. Being a freelance photographer, basically, is running a start-up business alone.

But that’s the thing: it is a business. It takes guts, grit, determination, and perseverance for everything to pay off. Nothing happens overnight. Just tread on and take pictures everyday. At the same time, find a way to pay the bills.

Photography is a great form of art; it’s a booming field for business as well.

Aside from photography being an emotional outlet, you have to realize that it can also be an opportunity to build a massive business.

The emergence of the internet makes it nearly impossible to not think of something that will reach people all over the globe. All it takes are your skills, a lot of time, effort, and your willingness to learn, create new things, go outside of your comfort zone, and venture into the complex world of business and finance.

You can build something epic!

It is vital for you to find your forte as an artist. Much like building a business, you must know your niche and your target audience. Concentrate on a particular type of photography that you can capitalize on. Your forte might not even be about taking photos, but may be about building brands through photos, creating quality social media presence through photos, increasing company sales through photos, or writing lead-generating camera product reviews. Thinking beyond the photographer role and adding a little entrepreneurial spice will definitely make the future look brighter.

You can’t just be a photographer. You have to be a photographer that gives great value.

Let’s take Timothy Hogan as an example. Hogan is a famous still life photographer of luxury goods in New York, Los Angeles, and London. If a client wants photos of landscapes and real estates, will they look for him? Of course not. However, expensive luxury products that need professional photography services will hire Hogan in an instant. Why?  There are a lot of other photographers out there who are probably ask for lower rates, even. What does Timothy Hogan do that no matter how high his value becomes, luxury brands go to him?

What makes Timothy Hogan thrive as a photographer is his ability to market himself and his skills. He’s not just a photographer. Timothy Hogan is an effective luxury brand sales professional. Through his effective visual communication skills, luxury companies generate more sales. Timothy Hogan is a self-made business.

This can happen to you as well. There are tons of opportunities in the field of photography. There are a lot of projects that can be built on being a photographer. You probably know by now the typical photographer jobs. Either you work as portrait photographer, an events photographer, or a studio photographer. But you can still find the entrepreneur within and juice out what else can be done with the skills that you have. Here are some examples.

Aerial & Drone Photography Services

Have you ever wondered how they took those great shots of New York from the skies?

Due to the advancement of mobile applications and technology, aerial and drone photography is now easily accessible and customizable. Aside from the aesthetic pleasure that it gives its viewers, photographers can earn from this area by providing photography services for news teams, organizations, companies, groups, and individuals who may need shots from above.

There is long list of the need for aerial shots. It may be used in important news reports, in calamity check-ups, in huge group pictures, or in area mapping. Get creative and think of other uses. Offer great value beyond your skills and provide efficient and world-class bird’s eye view to your clients.

Social Media Content Management Services

In today’s world, companies who are not in social media are as good as dead. This is why companies are spending so much money on social media content management services.

Salaries of photographers, graphic designers, writers, and social media specialists have soared. Companies are hiring the tech-savvy individuals who will ensure quality lead generation for increased sales. Good photographers can leverage on this by providing attention-grabbing pictures. The goal of social selling is stealing the attention of the cyber citizens despite all of the distractions online.

Find companies looking for social media content management services and offer great value by telling them how your pictures can convince people to stop and take a look at their website or their social accounts. It’s not about how good you are as a photographer. It’s about how good you are as a communicator.

City Photographer-Tour Guide Services

Have ever gone to a trip just to return home frustrated because while you took great photos of other people, they took crappy photos of you? I know, it’s a common problem for photographers.

You can leverage on this issue by providing city photographer-tour guide services. You don’t have to be the tour guide; you can collaborate with someone more knowledgeable in this field and work on a good package. The tour guide provides private tour services, while you ensure that the tourists get to keep their memories locked in nicely printed photographs. 

Photographer-Blogger Affiliate Marketing Services

The internet has provided great opportunities for online marketers since its inception. Until now, they are still booming. Students can earn just by blogging and some people are earning six figures straight from their bed.

Photographers can make use of this by giving great value for effective affiliate marketing services. Try hunting for photography-related affiliate marketing programs online and you’ll get hundreds and thousands of sources. All you have to do is find programs that will fit you and provide great content for your viewers. Your content can simply be a blog about your recent photography escapades or it can be a lengthy product review. Somewhere within the content is a link that leads to the affiliate marketing program you chose. When your viewers click that link and it leads to a sale, you get a commission.

Commissions can range from US $5 to US$300, depending on the industry.

Technical Product Reviewer

Since you are a great photographer, I am assuming that you know your gear well. You know how to spot good lenses, how to take care your equipment, and how to compare the many choices of camera parts and accessories in the market.

If you can write or take videos, you can create a business out of technical product reviews. A lot of companies in different countries look for remote reviewers and get paid with a base salary. Every lead and sale closed because of your content means added commission for you. Definitely a great way to hone your other skills while earning from what you love.

Don’t wait for your value to increase. Offer great value deliberately.

One of the biggest mistakes photographers do is to depend on their skills alone with the hopes of someone discovering them and making it big. Though skills are important, they are only composed of a part of what makes a successful photographer.

Instead of just waiting for your value to increase overtime, offer great value to potential clients by thinking beyond taking photos. What else can I do with my camera? What else can I provide with my skills? What kind of money-making gigs can I create with my equipment? How can I build a business around my skill and equipment capital?

Remove the photography stigma. There is money in photography. Study the market and find out what you can give. Great ideas founded on sheer grit and perseverance will take you to places.

Updated: April 18, 2016 — 6:32 am
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