What is freelance photography?
Freelance photographers work for themselves to produce high quality images for a range of clients. As a freelance photographer there are plenty of possibilities. The first thing that you need to do is specialise in an area of photography. This will help for when clients are looking for a photographer as they will be searching online for a specific type.
It will also help you to decide how to set up your business. For example, if you want to specialise in family portraits, then you’re best setting up your own studio. If you would prefer to work on events like weddings, then you wouldn’t necessarily need a studio, you could simply travel to wherever the event was.
What qualifications or experience do you need?
You don’t need any formal qualifications, though you might find it useful to take courses in photography or photo editing in order to gain more confidence in your work, both for yourself and for your potential clients.
Most freelance photographers will have plenty of experience in taking photographs as it usually starts off as a hobby. Practising will help you get better and develop your confidence.
As for working with clients, it’s very common for freelancers to start off charging very low fees or even working for free. Some freelancers will start off taking photos of friends and family. These can then be used to start your portfolio to give prospective clients a glimpse into your skills. The better quality images you have, the more likely you will get hired to create similar work for clients. You can then keep your portfolio updated with examples of client work.
What equipment do you need?
Setting up as a freelance photographer isn’t cheap. You will need a high quality camera, lenses and editing software. If you’re to be working in a studio you’ll need to hire out premises to work from which means buying things like lighting equipment and shop furnishings.
What do you need to put on your website?
The key part of your website should be your portfolio. This should be cleanly laid out and feature only your best work. If you’re specialising in wedding photography, don’t just put any photos up, make sure your website is showing off your best wedding snaps so that it’s immediately clear what it is you specialise in.
Make sure your contact details and the services or packages you offer are clear. Some freelancers like to put their rates on the website, partly to avoid the dreaded “can you work for free?” from prospective clients. Others prefer for clients to contact them to get a quote, as this gives you more scope on what to charge.
How to set up as a sole trader
In order to set up any kind of freelance business you will need to register as a sole trader with HMRC in order to pay tax. If you don’t do this you could end up getting hit with fines.
You can register here for Self-Assessment. The process is easier than you think. In order to keep on top of your tax duties you will need to keep detailed records of your finances including any earnings and business expenses.
The best way to do this is to use a bookkeeping software, you can find some for free online. You might even want to hire a freelancer accountant to take away the hassle of working out how much tax you owe and when to pay it.
Market Your Business on Social Media
Marketing your business will include being on social media. While it’s tempting to spread yourself across all platforms, don’t do this because you won’t be able to give them all the attention that they need. Instead choose a couple to build up.
For a photographer, you’ll likely find more success on the more visual sites like Instagram or Pinterest than something like Twitter. It’s okay to have a mixture as long as you see a need for it and can find your target audience there.
What other advice would you give for someone wanting to start a freelance photography business? Tell us your top tips for success in the comments.