How To Become a Freelance Photographer (5 Steps)

If you’re thinking about transforming your passion for photography into a profitable business, then becoming a freelancer is the most common route to turning pro. Many well-known photographers started this way! So, in this article, we’ll tell you how to become a freelance photographer, so you can start making money doing what you love!

To become a freelancer photographer:

  1. Choose your niche
  2. Invest in the necessary equipment
  3. Build your website
  4. Create your portfolio
  5. Land your first client!

Below, we’ll look at the step-by-step process for setting up a freelance photography business and give you some tips for success. But first, why should you consider becoming a freelance photographer?

Why Become a Freelance Photographer?

There are lots of reasons you might decide to become a freelance photographer:

  • You get to be your boss and run your own business
  • You’re able to make a decent income from freelance photography (an average of about £31,000/year in the UK)
  • You get to choose the type of work that you want to do
  • It allows you to turn your passion into profit
  • You get to work on exciting and varied projects
  • You also get to meet interesting people and work at unique events
  • The flexibility of freelancing means you can do your photography around other commitments

So, there are many reasons you might consider becoming a freelance photographer. But going freelance is not without its challenges.

The Challenges of Becoming a Freelance Photographer

Freelancing is a hugely rewarding and potentially profitable career. But it can be tough, particularly when you’re first starting out. You’ll have to be pragmatic and business-minded to pay the bills as a freelancer. This means constantly working on growing your client base, creating a solid marketing strategy on multiple platforms, and maintaining an up-to-date website and portfolio.

Despite this, it’s worth the blood, sweat and tears to make it as a successful freelance photographer! So, let’s run through the steps you need to take to set up your freelance photography business.

How to Become a Freelance Photographer

1. Choose Your Niche

The first step to becoming a freelance photographer is to choose your niche. When you’re just starting out, it pays to think strategically. Select a profitable photography niche with relatively low costs of entry. For example, portraiture and product photography have very low financial barriers to entry. This will significantly reduce the amount you’ll have to invest before you start getting paid. These niches are also in high demand year-round, which means you’ll find it easier to get your first few clients and attract consistent work.

2. Invest in the Necessary Equipment

If you’re thinking about turning pro, you need equipment that can produce quality work. Investing in a good quality camera, such as a mid-range DSLR, and a few lenses is the starting point for any freelance photographer. You’ll also need a tripod to ensure that you can take shake-free photos.

It doesn’t need to cost the earth to get your equipment together! You can save a lot of money by buying second-hand cameras and accessories. The other equipment you’ll need will depend on the type of niche you’ll be working in.

For instance, if you’re planning to do portraits then you’ll need some reflectors, a diffuser, and a few simple studio lights. Again, you can buy all of these second-hand. Once you have the basic setup, you can upgrade and add to your equipment as you start to earn money from paid gigs.

3. Build a Website

These days, every freelance photographer needs an up-to-date website showcasing their best work. Setting up a website is easy, with plenty of platforms to help you, with no coding required! WordPress is a popular option for beginner freelancers. It’s easy to use and offers a great selection of free themes and templates. Once you’ve chosen your template and theme, you can add your own creative touches to the website to make it more representative of your work.

When designing your website, try to make it as multi-functional as possible. You ideally want to use your website to showcase your portfolio, schedule photoshoots, communicate directly with your clients, and manage orders and invoices. Your website should also be the central hub of your digital marketing strategy.

4. Create Your Portfolio

Now that you have a website where you can promote your photography, you need to put together a portfolio that showcases the very best of your work to date. When selecting photos for your portfolio, only include images that are relevant to the niche you have chosen to work in. So, keep it professional and to the point.

Your portfolio doesn’t need to contain every photo you’ve ever taken! Keep it professional and succinct and use it to present your best work. When adding your portfolio to your website, make sure it’s compatible with all devices and runs smoothly without long page loading times.

5. Land Your First Client!

Once you have all the basics set up, you can start to promote yourself and find some clients! There are a few ways to do this. For starters, use your personal networks including friends, family, and other contacts, to spread the word that you have a new freelance photography business. Social media is another great way to advertise your services, build your brand, and increase your reach. Set up professional Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts to promote your work.

Creating a blog on your website is another good way to generate organic online traffic while also building trust with your existing client base. Your blog can answer commonly asked questions or discuss topics relevant to your niche. By using SEO techniques or paid advertising, you can drive traffic to your site and convert them into clients.

Lastly, you should add a mailing list option to your website to keep people up to date with your latest offers, promotions, and developments. Once you’ve set up your freelance photography business, there are a few other tips to keep in mind.

Extra Tips for Becoming a Successful Freelance Photographer

Postproduction Editing

Editing your photos is an essential step for any freelance photographer. But there’s a fine line when it comes to editing. If you overdo it, the images look fake and inauthentic. But a bit of subtle editing goes a long way. It’s always worth considering sharpening images, making background adjustments, and tweaking the colour balance before you deliver your work to the client. All aspects of editing come down to personal preference and style, and it also depends on what the individual client is looking for.

Stay Organised

Keeping a detailed schedule is essential to running a successful professional photography service. Missing an appointment or forgetting to deliver photos after a shoot can have a devastating impact on your reputation. If you start to get bad reviews, you’ll find it very difficult to attract new clients! Stay on top of your schedule with a diary or an online calendar tool, especially as your business starts to grow.

Keep Learning!

Even once you’ve set up your freelance photography business and you’ve developed a solid client base, the learning doesn’t stop. Continue to hone your skills, stay up to date with the latest trends in the industry, and expand your knowledge. Online courses are a convenient way to study specific skills and techniques, while weekend workshops are a fun, hands-on way to meet your peers and learn new things.

Do You Need a Business License to Be a Freelance Photographer?

In most cases you won’t need a business license to be a freelance photographer in the UK. You may need a business license as a freelance photographer in other countries, including the USA. You should check your local laws surrounding freelance photography to find out if you need a business license.

You Can Become a Freelance Photographer Today!

Freelance photography is a highly competitive industry. But it’s also full of opportunities for you to turn your creative passion into a full-time, well-paid job, and it can be well worth the effort. Compared with a year earlier, the photography services industry is expected to grow by more than 10% in 2021, from $32.9 billion to $36.4 billion. So, it’s a great time to take the leap and set up your own freelance photography business.