Did you know there are almost 150,000 photographers in the U.S.? Of course, that number doesn't include those who take quick iPhone shots or "consider" themselves photographers without the right gear or training. If we included them, that number would be staggering.
Either way, the point remains the same - photography is a popular career, and more people are going freelance than ever. With a recent boom in remote working thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, freelance photography is likely to become an even bigger industry.
While that's good, as a whole, it can also make it harder for you to stand out, especially if you have a specific niche already.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to stand out. Taking the time to set yourself apart can make for an incredibly inspiring story
and can help you take your career to the next level. So, whether you've been stuck in a photo "rut" for a while or you want to give your business a boost, there's no time like the present to start standing out.
But, what can you do to accomplish that?
Knowing How to Network
Networking is essential in almost any type of business, but if you think you can avoid it as a freelancer, think again. In fact, networking with others might even be more important in the gig economy than anywhere else.
It starts with having a memorable brand. What is your niche? What does your photography represent? When you know "who you are" as a photographer, it will be easier to network with others in the industry or those who might need your services.
With that in mind, consider who you want to connect with. Think of who could help you grow your personal business, including people like:
- Photographers in other niches
- Potential clients
Consider your "brand" when you're trying to connect with others. For example, if you're a wedding photographer, try to network with wedding magazines or websites. If most of your shoots are out in nature, you might want to talk to local wildlife agencies or sustainable businesses.
Whoever you end up connecting with, you'll want to stand out right away. Having a solid portfolio (more on that later!) and an impressive resume can help you get noticed. You might not think a resume is important as a photographer, but most people will still look at it to get a feel for your experience. So, make sure it's up to date and free of spelling errors or grammatical mistakes
Building a Loyal Client Base
One of the greatest challenges of a freelancer is consistently finding clients. It's a risk everyone in the gig economy has to take. But, if you can build up a steady client base over time, based on your skills and dedication, you'll have less to worry about when it comes to finding enough work from week to week. A loyal client base will provide you with a steady income and a lot less stress.
Client loyalty is based on several factors, but you should be focused on the overall experience in working with someone from start to finish. First, determine the best way to communicate. Who is your target audience? If it's young brides about to get married, you might connect with them via social media because it's easier for them. For other audiences, email or phone conversations might be preferred.
By maintaining a connection with your clients
throughout the whole process, you'll get to know them, personally. That shows a willingness to go above and beyond a "standard" job, and your clients will take notice. Getting to know your clients can involve anything from checking in to make sure they're satisfied to sending a personalized thank-you note when the job is done. The better their experience, the more likely they are to use your services again - and recommend you to others!
Keeping Your Portfolio Updated
As a photographer, having a portfolio is like having a business card. It's something you should be able to share at a moment's notice. But, it's not enough to put together your best work and let it stay that way forever.
Your style will evolve over time. Your skills will get better over time. The things you learn will change over time. As a result, your portfolio needs to stay updated, too. Thankfully, it's easier than ever to keep things up to date, especially when you're displaying your work online. Website images can help you to get noticed
for a variety of reasons, including:
- They fuel social media
- Search engines love them
- They bring your site design to life
- They can get your site more views
So, make sure every hard copy of your portfolio stays up to date and your personal website features your latest work. It's a simple-but-effective way to stand out and show your talents and your dedication to keeping things fresh.
Is it going to become more difficult to stand out as a freelance photographer? Maybe. But, it won't be impossible as long as you're willing to do the extra work. Keep these ideas in mind to help your freelance business stand out and to create a steady client base for years to come.