If you have always enjoyed taking photographs but never thought of it as a career then think again! It is time to become your own boss. Use these tips on how to become a photographer to take your obsession to your profession.
You do not have to be the best photographer in the world to break through the tough market. What you need to possess is a skillset that most photographers don’t. Networking!
How do I get ahead of the competition? Am I marketing myself properly? How do I gain clients?
Social Media is your best friend
With the advancement of phone cameras even images with very poor resolution can look incredible on social media so yours have to be a cut above the rest. The amount of followers you have is not necessarily as important as the quality of the content. You can almost guarantee that nearly every client that wants to deal with you with look through social media as a quick look into what your portfolio looks like. This means that your first post could potentially be as important as your 1000th.
The great thing about social media is that it will not only encourage you to take more images but it will give you an insight into your niche. You can approach clients with the latest image trends and give yourself more chance of getting work.
Link yourself in to LinkedIn
The single greatest tool for reaching out to people who may be interested in your work is through LinkedIn. You never really get a great response if you ram a sales pitch down someone’s throat but if you start conversing with people, as you would do in the street, then you will find a way to let them know that you can mutually benefit each other in some way.
Use LinkedIn to start building a community around your niche. Connect with professionals and ask if they ever need another pair of hands, connect with businesses and ask if they need some photos doing, connect with anyone that you can envision yourself working with at some point in the future. The site is built for task specific networking so you should be using it for just that.
Create a clear and precise PDF
Decide on what product you are going to offer and for how much. Do a lot of research and be sure not to price yourself out of the market especially if this is all new to you. Make sure the PDF is short and sweet but clearly outlines your services and backs them services up with a short portfolio and a link to a bigger one. Having a ready-made PDF will give potential clients the impression that you are a natural and have done this before (even if that’s not true). You can almost guarantee that some clients will attempt to barter with you and until you can afford to say no those two letters should never come out of your mouth.
Leave your comfort zone
Leading on from the previous sentence. You should never say no to work especially in the early stages of your career. If it is something you have never done before then do it! Think of it as a way to expand your portfolio and clientele. If you have to work for free for a while then so be it. Nobody loves giving his or her time away for free but you have to think of the big picture. Keeping clients happy increases the chances of them using your name in conversation.
Word of mouth
Your name should be your main selling point. Understandably it will take a while for people to recognise your name but once they do the work will really start flooding in. Obviously your quality of work is the best way to get your name recognised but the old clichés also work the best here. One thing you should do is what I call a check-back. Very few people do it. A couple of weeks after whatever it is you have shot, just send a professional and courteous email to say what a great day it was, tell a little joke and then drop in the fact that if they/anyone they know ever needs a photographer again then they can just to get in touch. It just brings you back into mind and once in a while you will get more clients.
Compete in photography competitions
Whatever your target audience the more publicity you can get the better! There is no better way of getting a single image noticed than competing in a photo competition. People want to buy winning shot prints and people want to hire you to shoot this and that because they can see you are talented and, more importantly, that other people love your work. A photography competition is also another great way to see which shots are popular and which shots are not so. Never be disheartened if you don’t get the votes you wanted. Think of it as a great learning tool and strive to better your photos so that you can compete with those that are getting a lot of love.
Start in your hometown
The best way to keep everything together is to start within a small community then work out from there. Establish yourself in your hometown first. You wont need to travel far for shoots, you know the best places to shoot, you can easily meet face to face with clients and if there is an issue afterwards you can resolve it with ease and professionalism.
It is still very tricky to set up as a photographer in your local community but it is much more comfortable to do so. Approach local cafes and restaurants to see if they could put your work on the walls. Be willing to put the work up for free and offer a commission on any pieces that sell.
You may find success when you offer free work to local people. This gets your name out there, helps build up your portfolio and connects you with some of the more esteemed business people within your community.
Upwork and Gumtree
When you get to the point when you want to branch out or if you want to find even more local work then upwork.com and gumtree.com can be incredible tools! You often have to put in a lot of time to see any returns, especially on Upwork, but no pain no gain as they say.
On Upwork you can search for people who are directly looking for photographers for a particular job. You just simply filter the work to meet your abilities and then send proposals to each client. Just make sure each proposal is worded to fit the work and not just copied and pasted.
On Gumtree you can effectively advertise yourself and your work. Depending on what kind of photographer you are depends on whether or not there is a small fee for your advertisement. Not many people use Gumtree to look for photographers but on the other hand not many photographers use Gumtree to promote themselves. You should have your pick of the field really.
Smooth out your website
It goes without saying that you should have a website to showcase your work and to attract clients. The website should be smooth and easy to run through. The average person spends less than 30 seconds on a new website and clicks less than two links so all your “sales” info should be quick, clear, precise and attractive to entice people to stay longer.
There are a lot of drag and drops available now for around £10/month. A Huge investment for any photographer!
Build a killer portfolio and have it printed into a photo book
When you are happy with your portfolio you should make it a more permanent feature and ingeniously build yourself a photo book with all your best shots. You can always carry this with you along with some business cards then if you happen to ever meet anyone who is in need of a photographer you have something that most people don’t…hard evidence of your talents. Try to build a couple of testimonials in there and add some text to explain a few of your images. Remember that networking is about separating yourself from the other photographers!
In your portfolio you want to include the biggest mix of images as possible. Photography nowadays is all about covering as many bases as possible. Multiple revenue streams.
Your work is your own and don’t let anybody put you down. You will come across clients that are impossible to work with, you will come across people who have nothing nice to say at all, you will come across arseholes. That’s just the way of the world. As a photographer you need to learn to take the rough with the smooth and as long as you are happy with what you have accomplished then you will overcome these obstacles, pushing on to great things.
Stuck for what to do next? These 10 beginner tips will help