You're not imagining things — the freelance photography business is booming.
Whether you've decided you to want to go full-time freelance, or if you just want photography to become your side hustle, there's definitely a market for those with skills.
Of course, this also means that the competition is more fierce than ever.
If you want your freelance photography business to stand out, you need to take a measured and methodical approach to laying the perfect foundation.
You should rely on social media and blog to build your brand, understand how to leverage your local market, and find the niche that allows you to grow your reputation while expressing yourself creatively.
But how are you going to pull all of this off?
Read on to find out.
1. Make Your Social Media Presence Known
As much as you'd love to be able to operate your freelance photography business out of an enormous office, using the best equipment, and with a book of hundreds of customers?
You're most likely going to start out running your business from your home, with no other employees, and with a serious need for clients.
One of the best ways to start marketing yourself without having to pay for high advertising costs?
Claim social media accounts on the biggest platforms. For photographers, of course, you'll want to focus your efforts mostly on Instagram.
Remember, in order to grow your follower count — and convert those followers into actual customers — you'll need to do a lot of research. This means studying up on the most popular hashtags within the photography business and including these relevant hashtags in your posts.
It also means creating a regimented posting schedule. For best results, upload your photos morning, noon, and night. We understand that, with everything else you're doing to grow your freelance photography business, you may not have time to take three new pictures every day.
Instead, dedicate a weekend to shooting new content for the month, and then look into automated postings. Don't, however, neglect the comments and questions your followers leave on your posts.
Remember, social media is a part of customer service — respond to these inquiries as you would a phone call to your office or a request for a consultation.
2. Start Blogging
You've already claimed your social media accounts –but why is blogging an essential part of your freelance photography business?
You might not think that blog posts matter in such a visually-based industry, but you couldn't be more wrong. First of all, long-form content is an incredibly effective way to connect with your customers.
It allows them to get to know you on a more intimate, personal level. It also gives you the space to explain both your experience with and your passion for photography.
You can let them know about the inspiration for a shoot, offer lighting tips to prove your authority in the industry, and of course, crowdsource both ideas and models in the comments section.
Plus, blogging also gives you the chance to boost the overall SEO of your freelance photography business.
You'll be able to naturally pepper your page with “keywords” — the search terms that people type into Google when they're looking for someone to take their headshots or wedding photos.
Blogging also tells Google that you “frequently update” your website. As you might have guessed, websites that are updated often rank much higher than those that haven't been changed in a few weeks.
For best results, aim to post a minimum of three blog posts a week. To keep readers guessing, switch up the format of your posts. For example, on Monday, write a listicle of the ten best camera bags. On Tuesday, create an “advice column” where you answer “frequently asked questions” from readers.
3. Find Your Niche
Let's face it — when it comes to the freelance photography business, the competition is pretty fierce.
We all want to be a big fish in a big pond. But, especially if you're just starting out, that's not always realistic.
If you want to create a strong personal brand and build a solid book of clients in the process, it's important that you work to find your niche.
Think about the type of photography that you love shooting the most — or the one that you get asked the most about.
Maybe you're obsessed with taking graduation photos. Maybe pet portraits are your thing. Maybe you love drone photography. Maybe you had a pregnancy photo shoot that went viral, and you're looking to capitalize on that.
Your business will be strengthened by your ability and willingness to be as specific as possible. Remember, as your brand grows, you can always explore other types of photography.
If you're struggling to find your niche, there's nothing wrong with crowdsourcing your friends or even your network of professional photographers. Sometimes, it takes another person to help us see our own strengths.
4. Build Your Portfolio
Once you've found your niche and made your presence known online, it's time to focus on one of the most important aspects of your freelance photography business: your portfolio.
Keep in mind that, in the beginning, you may need to find models who are also trying to build up their books. There's absolutely no shame in coming to a mutually beneficial agreement, where they get free photos, and you get to build your portfolio in the process.
When you're creating your portfolio, you want to make sure you stress your niche — but also that you show your variety within it.
This means shooting in a variety of lighting, in different locations, and even with various lenses and types of cameras. Especially if you plan to primarily shoot people, it's also crucial that you show a diversity of bodies and poses in your photography.
Don't forget to update your portfolio on your website and your social media pages. If you're struggling to come up with content, you can always use the latest photos from your portfolio to fill in the blanks.
5. Ask For Reviews And Testimonials
You can be the greatest photographer in the world, get the best angles, and make everyone look like they've just walked off the runway.
But if you don't have glowing online reviews and testimonials that prove your expertise, no one will even know you exist.
There's nothing wrong with asking your favorite customers and past models to leave a review on your website or on review aggregate sites.
If you're still trying to build up your client base, you might even want to offer discounted packages for those willing to leave you a review.
6. Embrace The Local Market
Especially if you're just starting out, there's a good chance that your strongest market will be your local one.
Plus, with all the competition out there, it's sometimes just not realistic to think that clients will drive from three states away to be shot by you (at least, not yet!)
So, how can you ensure that you tap into that local market?
The best way to do it is with a combination of superior digital marketing and boots-on-the-ground tactics. Scour your neighborhood for small businesses and local events.
Offer to take a few shots for a local newspaper or business in exchange for a review or a feature on their website. Attend local sports games in your area, and offer to sell the pictures to fans. Hear about a business meeting coming up, or even a hit local band that's playing a show?
Don't be afraid to hustle!
Contact these people and tell them you'd be happy to serve as their photographer.
When it comes to your local SEO, make sure that you've claimed the Google My Business page for your freelance photography business. This will help you to show up sooner in local search engine results.
Additionally, include a Google Map on the contact page of your website. This means you're more likely to show up in the search results of people in your area who are already on the go and looking for a photographer.
Need More Help Starting Your Freelance Photography Business?
As you can see from this post, it takes a lot of hard work, passion, and above all, perseverance, to create a successful freelance photography business.
You'll need to master social media, know how to market yourself, (and have the guts to do it) and make an emotional connection to your clients.
The good news?
You don't have to do it alone.
We've created the ultimate website packed with the resources you need to succeed in this business. Whether you're just starting out or have been working professionally for a while now, we want to give you the tools you need to grow.
We'll tell you how to find the best photography jobs, walk you through the top equipment, and offer countless tips on how to get the perfect shot.
Don't wait to live your dream for one more day. Instead, it's time to make it a reality.