According to a 2015 Freelance Industry Report, photographers only comprise 1.3% of the total freelancing population of 53 million across the U.S. The same report noted that most photographers (75%) believe they have more free time now that they are working for themselves than when they were with an agency.
This has led many to parlay their interest in photography or previous experience in a full-time position to migrate to freelance status. However, with this freedom also comes the challenge of finding clients, which was noted as one of the biggest problems for freelance photographers along with maintaining a work/life balance.
It can be challenging to find steady work as a freelance photographer. Yet, if you select a focus, such as wedding photographer, portraits, or even a career creating stock photography for firms, you can increase your chances of ongoing work. That’s because you are marketing directly to a specific audience through your website, social media presence, traditional advertising and word-of-mouth marketing. You can also find freelance photography jobs on many of the new online freelance job marketplaces, including Elance, iFreelance, Flex Jobs, and Guru, just to name a few.
There are many other steps you can take to increase your visibility and make you stand out in the crowd of freelance photographers in your specialty area:
- Create an impressive website that shows off your photography skills, including a comprehensive portfolio.
- Start a blog that shares your photography experience and offers tips for other burgeoning photographers. This type of content and knowledge sharing positions you as an expert in your area, which many often link to your ability to satisfy their photography needs.
- Be responsive when prospective customers contact you, including returning phone calls and email messages as quickly as possible.
- Proactively pursue potential photography jobs by reaching out to those that may need your photography services.
- Stay competitively priced by regularly checking on what your competition is charging for their freelance photography services.
- Network with organizations and professionals within those industries you serve. For example, if you are doing freelance wedding photography, then you might want to attend bridal trade shows and join their professional organizations. This can not only provide you leads for photography jobs, but it can also get your name out among all those within that industry to build your brand and reputation as a high-quality wedding photographer. You can do this for any focus you take in photography.
With all these tips working for you, there’s plenty to keep you busy. However, there are other aspects of your freelance photography business that you will also need to manage.
Getting Paid on Time is Freelance Photographer’s Key Challenge
The same report also noted that getting paid on time was a significant issue for freelance photographers more so than for most other types of freelancing jobs. Today’s new cloud-based invoicing tools can solve that challenge so you can enjoy a higher rate of cash flow while you continue to market for jobs and enjoy the projects you are currently doing.
Here’s what you can do with today’s online invoicing tools for photographers:
- An invoice that has a professional look and feel, including a logo and company name, not only provide a way to reinforce your brand image, but it also gives your photography business a bit more credibility than say an invoice you typed up in Word. These online invoicing tools let you pick from a library of invoice templates so you can find the style and color palette that fits your photography brand.
- You are an artist, not an accountant, so it helps to have online invoicing tools that do the math for you by automatically calculating project amounts and any taxes or applicable discounts. This also ensures that human errors are minimized. If customers receive inaccurate invoices, they are going to want a correct one, which means it takes more time for you to get paid. Plus, these types of mistakes also ding the trust you have with your customer, who wonders why you didn’t create an accurate invoice the first time.
- If you are fortunate enough to travel for your photography job, you might be doing projects in other countries or with international companies. With an online invoice tool, you can send invoices on the go from your smartphone or tablet so you never miss a billing period and can keep the cash flowing. The other benefit is that many online invoicing tools also provide for numerous currencies so your client does not have to figure out how to convert it into their currency. Instead, you provide an invoice in their preferred currency because the online tool does the exchange rate for you. Additionally, you can schedule invoices to be sent while you are working on making money.
- Get rid of any paper processes related to your invoicing to save time and money by digitizing the entire process of sending invoices, receiving payments, and tracking outstanding payments. Your customers get a copy they can open immediately on their phone or computer and pay right then and there thanks to a link to a preferred payment portal like a bank or service like PayPal. That speeds the payment because it takes out the days in the mail plus those extra days where it sits with a pile of other bills, waiting to be paid.
Instead of spending resources on invoicing, you can be doing what you love: taking pictures and marketing your talents.