Whether or not to turn your passion into a profession is a very tough decision in my book. I have my reasons why I haven’t done it, but there are still plenty of reasons to turn your photography hobby into your job. Have you decided to do it? Awesome! Now it’s time for another tough part: finding your clients and setting the prices. Sean Tucker has made an inspiring and informative video that will help you on this journey, and it’s a must-watch if you’re just starting out your career as a professional photographer.
Okay, you’ve decided to start a business. But now, you need to answer these questions:
“What kind of photography do I do that people really need?” And “how much would they be willing to pay me for it?” Sean breaks it down in his video and gives you plenty of examples from his own experience as a product and headshot photographer. Here are some of the steps that you need to take that will help you find your clients and price your work properly.
Identify the problem
No matter how good you are, the world won’t come to you and give you the money for your photography. I know, it sucks, but it’s the truth. You need to put your work out there, and look around you and see what kind of photography people need. Also, remember that you’ll most likely need to adapt and compromise a bit when you start shooting for other people.
Prepare your skillset
Learn what people need, and then think about how you can make your photos to meet their needs and solve their problems. Make sure that you have all the skills necessary before you jump into it, especially if you’re a freelancer. If you mess up, you won’t get a second chance with the same client.
Build a portfolio
No one is going to hire you if they can’t see what exactly is what you do. Therefore, a portfolio is a must-have. When you’ve defined what you want to offer, start shooting photos that reflect it. Build a website or even an Instagram account with the kind of photos that you want to offer to people. But pay attention: don’t overfill it with a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t match your main niche. You can also have a printed out portfolio, or simply use a tablet with digital images.
Prepare a pitch
Prepare your “speech” before you reach out to potential clients. You should be able to tell people why they need high-quality photography, how it can make their business better, and why they should hire you to help them do it.
Set your price
Now it’s time to set the price. Personally, I think this is a very tricky part, but it’s important to remember that there’s no universal recipe. You have to think it through for yourself because we’re all different: our level of expertise differs, as well as our style, experience, and genres we shoot. After all, we live in different countries with different standards. So, for example, I who live in Serbia can’t have the same prices as Sean in the UK.
Your budget and the price of your gear are a consideration when determining the price. However, they’re not the only things you should account for. The question you need to answer first is: how much are people willing to pay? You need to find a balance: you don’t want to overcharge, but you don’t want to undercharge either.
Sean notes that most clients are not visually literate, so they will estimate your quality from your price, not from your photos. If you’re underpriced, people will assume that you’re bad and hire someone else. If you overcharge, most people simply won’t be able to afford you.
Tricky, right? I told ya! But don’t give up, just think it through, write it down and be realistic and objective.
Find your clients
You’ve got your portfolio ready, you’ve set the prices, and you’ve also prepared the pitch. Now it’s time to reach out to your potential clients. As I already mentioned, no one is going to come to you and give you money for your work, you gotta get out there and show the world what you’ve got.
Sean suggests that you start by making a short list of companies that you believe could be your clients. Those are the clients whose needs you would be able to meet and with whom you’d like to work. Remember that it’s important to find the right people in the company to talk to, and you should do your homework and learn about the company before you approach them.
Once you know who to contact, introduce yourself briefly, and present them with the work you can do for them. You can ask for a meeting and make sure that it’s not too much time. You can ask for 10-15 minutes of their time, so they’re more likely to meet you in person. Be prepared to tell your story and give your offer in those 10-15 minutes. They’re likely to keep you there a bit longer – but because they will want to know more so they’ll ask you questions.
Last but definitely not least: always be yourself. If you’re an introvert, meetings like this sound dreadful, and I can sure relate. However, don’t pretend that you’re someone else. Be confident with your work and with what you have to offer. Work on your confidence, and the rest will come to you.
As I mentioned, I’ve never turned photography into a career, but I do make a living from another passion of mine: writing. And from my own experience, I can agree with everything Sean says in the video, as lots of it applies to any career you may choose as a creative. Anyways, there are always pros and cons of turning a passion into a profession, but if you’ve chosen to become a professional photographer, it’s awesome to have videos like this to help you clear your thoughts, get started, and ultimately to help you grow. And what else can I say except: I wish you the best of luck!
[Finding Photography Clients and Pricing your Work | Sean Tucker]