- 2013 Photographer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Photography
- How to Create Stunning D igital Photography
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Group Portrait Photography Handbook
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
- 500 Poses for Photographing Group Portraits
- Selling Your Photography: Ho w to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photograp her
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liab ilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
In part I, I discussed the requirements for becoming a freelance photographer. In this article, I'll talk about the obstacles that all freelancers face. It takes a high level of discipline to do all of these, but if you have the willpower, you can handle these hurdles and become a true freelance photographer.
The first question you may ask yourself is, “Where can I find freelance work?” There are many opportunities, both on and offline, where you can start to build your freelance career. A good way to go is to start out locally. The benefit of this is meeting new people and having them spread the word about your availability and skills as a photographer. The more people you meet, the more your potential client list will grow. Local outlets can include newspapers, magazines, yearbooks (if you're going to school), special events, and other local publications. There may also be small photography companies in your area that do portraits or sports photography.
As for online, there a several websites that cater to freelancers of all kinds: writers, designers, photographers, illustrators, programmers, etc. Craigslist is another great place to look for local freelance work. Dealing with clients online can be tricky though, especially when handling photographs. One last recommendation would be to pick up the latest copy of Photographer’s Market. This is a giant compilation of local, national, and global markets who seek freelance submissions. You can look for potential outlets by genre or location, and the book is updated every year.
This is one of the many difficult challenges you'll face. When you go to work at a company, you stay there for 8 hours, and then you leave. You don't leave before (unless it's Friday), and you don't leave after (unless your boss is a jerk). When freelancing, you don't have this set 8 hours, and you may not even have a place to go into work. Instead you have to set your own schedule. This may seem glamorous at first, but without discipline you'll soon find yourself waking up at noon, working for two hours, and then taking the rest of the day off. It's easy to procrastinate and stress yourself out by doing this. Time management is a very important skill and one that causes many people to fail freelancing, so don't underestimate this as a priority. Wake up early, do your work, then you can play (if you still have time). Note that, because you are working alone, you will have to put in a lot of hours to cover the shooting, editing, e-mailing, meeting clients, doing finances, etc. A lot of successful freelance photographers will often work over 40 hours a week.
Along with managing your time, you must also manage your money. Many photographers suggest hiring an accountant, however, when you start there's no way you'll be able to afford one, which means you are in charge of your finances. You'll quickly learn that you need to put a lot of money back. Most put half of their earnings into their savings for future investments or payments such as new gear or taxes. Yes, taxes. Freelancers get taxed too. And since FICA isn't withholding any of your money each time you get paid, it means you have to pay the full amount come tax time. It may be wise to start freelancing part-time while keeping a steady part-time job just for the safety of a consistent paycheck. Don't forget that when your freelancing, you have no insurance benefits. All of that comes out of your earnings too. Now do you see why freelancers charge so much per hour?
This is another aspect of freelancing that you should not underestimate. It's quite easy to lose motivation when you have so much work to do, yet you're making so little money. It may not seem worth it at first, but you have to keep going if you want to make it worth your while. This is why you need to find a way to keep motivated. Set some time aside to spend away from the editing and e-mailing on the computer. Maybe spend a weekend shooting your own photography work rather than that of others. Get out and spend some time with friends (as you probably won't see anyone “at work”). Find something that lets you relax and recharge. If you just keep going nonstop, you're liable to run yourself into the ground until you just want to quit. Don't be too hard on yourself. Reward yourself when you complete a big assignment. Remember that you are your own boss. You have to keep a balance between working hard and letting your self relax. Too much of one or the other, and you can say goodbye to your freelancing days.
Written by Spencer Seastrom