For many photographers, being self-employed is the ultimate dream.
For those people, photography has always been an interest. And the idea of taking a hobby, turning it into a side hustle and ultimately creating a self-sustaining career out of our greatest joy is the kind of thing we fantasize about.
The unfortunate truth is that this day and age, everybody and their mother owns a camera, be it handheld or the one attached to their smartphone.
Yet, it’s never been easier to find gigs thanks to the Internet, provided you understand how to use that resource to your advantage.
While marketing yourself is, at its core, about putting in hard work toward selling your brand, there are some essential tips to get you started in the right direction.
Utilize social media
Social media is the number one way to market yourself. While social media may result in fewer conversions to actual paying gigs, it’s a pivotal piece of your brand. If you’re not marketing on social media, then a key piece of your “online personality” is missing.
What better way to market your photography business than through a social media platform that focuses on photos? It’s true — Instagram is a great place to begin building your online identity. However, it’s less of a business tool than it is a tool for “social selling,” or the act of building and engaging with an audience that may result in sales.
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Sonríe with @markianb. Need to start posting more, just been working on edits and building out my website which will be up soon 🤘 === #portraithood #portraitgames #portraitvision_ #portraitunit #portraitgames #portraitmobs #portraitkillers #portraitgasm #portraitcatalog #make_portraits #top_portraits #life_portraits #portraitstream #portraitvision #gameofportraits #portraitunit #portsmagazine #portraitmovement #portraitpills #aovportrait #bravoportraits
With Facebook, it’s much easier to directly engage with your audience from a business standpoint. Your business page can look exactly like a directory listing but you can inject as much of your personality into it as you’d like.
Best of all, it’s easy to share links, engage, and direct your audience in a way that converts into business opportunities.
Think of Twitter as another opportunity for your “social selling” efforts. Much like Instagram, it’s a great platform to develop your brand. Most of all, it’s one of the easiest platforms for developing a “thought leader” persona.
LinkedIn functions much like Twitter, with the added advantage that it has a higher rate of conversion to sales.
On LinkedIn, your goal is to set yourself up as an authority in the photography community by writing engaging thought pieces that can be shared by your following, which is shared by their followers, and ad infinitum. If one of your pieces of content goes viral, then your worries about getting gigs will pivot to worrying about taking on so many clients!
Online freelance marketplaces
Like it or not, much of the freelance happening today occurs online. Photography is no exception. Online freelance marketplaces are a great way to advertise remote photography services and find regional gigs that you may otherwise not know about.
The go-to freelance marketplace is Upwork.com by a large margin. It’s the culmination of the three top freelancing websites, brought together under one roof. Because of this, it holds the majority of online freelance work. With Upwork, jobs are posted online and you submit proposals to them.
Competition is fierce, but a thoughtfully made profile and a solid portfolio will get you noticed. Upwork will also highlight local work, so you can easily spot regional gigs that give you a huge leg up.
Who said that in-person networking is dead? The truth is — photography is a service best appreciated in-person, so marketing your services locally is still a great idea.
7. Print business cards
No longer are business cards a huge expense. You don’t need to go to a local printing press and order 1,000 to make it worth your while.
Once you have a great business card to show off, hand it out to people that are interested in your photography business. You’d be surprised how easy it is to bring your hobby and vocation up in a conversation, and how frequently people realize they could use your services.
Most of all, don’t forget to prominently pin your card onto the “community board” at your local cafes. People do read those!
8. Volunteer in your community
Volunteer work isn’t just satisfying, it’s a great way to market your services to your community.
Picking up volunteer photography gigs for various organizations (think churches, community centers, public school, etc.) won’t just make you feel great about yourself.
Chances are, someone with photography needs will see the work you’re doing.
If you represent your services well, then it’s only a matter of time before someone needs some work. After that, let word-of-mouth do its thing. Volunteer work is the kind of “slow and steady” exposure that can pay off big down the road.
9. Participate in photography meet ups
Join local photography Facebook groups — chances are there will be like-minded folks in your area that would jump at the chance to meet up. And check websites like Meetup.com for photography meetups that you can participate in.
If you put in the time and become an engaged member of your local photography community, then you’ll be much more keyed into the local gig economy. You’d be surprised by the business you’re missing out on because you weren’t even aware of it.
The more photographers you know, the higher your chances of scoring gigs will be.
While the industry is competitive, there are plenty of kind people out there that would love to lend you a hand.
Local job boards
You should use local job boards to advertise your regional photography services every so often.
You’d be surprised by how many people scour things like Craigslist when they need some guidance — these sites have become the new “white pages” now that the big yellow phone book has lost its relevance.
Craigslist may have a reputation as being a source for everything eccentric and odd. But its relevance as a place to advertise regional services is still going strong.
Ensure you’re posting your photography service in the “Services” and “Gigs” sections of your regional Craigslist board every-so-often.
Freelance photography is easier than ever, with caveats
It couldn’t be any easier to market yourself thanks to the tools you have at your disposal online. But don’t forget that freelance is much more than your online presence — it’s about building relationships wherever possible.
Use the expansive reach of social media effectively, practice your services worldwide using online freelance marketplaces, and make yourself the “go-to” photographer in your local community.
Now I want to hear from you!
Is there any site on this blog that you are going to check out?
Is there another way to find more freelance photography gigs that I have missed?