How can you turn your hobby into a career and secure paying photography customers?
You have the proper equipment and a creative eye. You have refined your skills and took the time to learn photography techniques. You are more than ready to kick your photography hobby to up a notch by having your first paying client. So, how can you move your photography interest from a hobby to a career? Here are a few steps to lay the groundwork for your photography business and secure a paying client:
Create Your Portfolio
Carefully look at the images you have captured so far and imagine yourself as a client. Would you pay your hard-earned money for any of those photos? You are your most stringent critic in creating your photography portfolio. Review your work with an impartial eye and choose which shots highlight your skills.
Afterwards, ask your family and friends to do the same. It is vital, however, to allow your impromptu photography critics the liberty to express their insights and opinions about your photos. You can also use their comments as constructive criticisms.
As you identify which photographs they like best, you should likewise begin to recognize and determine where your weaknesses and strengths lie as a photographer. Is food photography your forte? Are you best in landscape photography? Commercial scenes? Objective opinions (from friends, family, and even yourself) would guide you in discovering your niche and helping you create your best (and first) portfolio.
Work Pro Bono
After asking your friends and family to critique the photographs you have previously taken, you could also ask them to pose for you free of charge. Moreover, you could ask local events and non-profit organizations if you could extend your services for them, for free.
Although your time and effort are absolutely valuable, you can think of this free work as a good investment in your business. Remember that every great photographer starts his career journey with a collection of impressive work to show potential photography customers.
Ask for Referrals
As you capture photos of your family and friends, don’t forget to offer them several copies of the photos you took to show off in their offices or homes. Oftentimes, paying photography customers are a referral from a family member or friends. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends or family for a referral on your social media page or website.
When your shoots are of high-quality, you won’t find it hard to develop a loyal following, and the ensuing snowball effect is the quickest path to paying photography customers you could find.
Show Your Work
One of the simplest ways to spread the word about your art is to display your images at a local art gallery. Pick a few of your best and most creative photographs that really show your personal style, then show them off for potential photography customers to see and appreciate. You may sell a couple of photographs. Then again, and you may not.
Nonetheless, bear in mind that the reward for all your effort is in the exposure and the publicity, as well as in the free marketing and advertising for your photography business.
Another channel to show your work is to go to local festivals and sporting events and take photographs to upload online. Bring your business cards with you and give them out to let people know where the photos would be posted and to grab the interest of potential paying photography customers.
Offer some photos for free, but also make some photos available online for download for a fee. And there you go:
Shadow a Professional
Look for a reputable professional photographer in the niche you want to engage in and ask them if you could shadow them during their shoots. If you are into family portraits, volunteer to help with the venue and lighting. If you want to work on wedding photography, look for an established wedding photographer and offer your help as a second shooter.
Not only would you be able to gain more skills, but your mentor could likewise give your details to paying photography customers they couldn’t accommodate because of conflicts in schedule.
Setup a Website & Social Media Accounts
After you have put a small photography portfolio together, you can start displaying them to a realm of potential paying customers. You don’t need to start off with a complicated website with a bunch of confusing plugins. Building a straightforward yet nice-looking website through Squarespace with their customizable and pre-built templates wouldn’t take a few days—probably one or two is enough.
Signing up to social media platforms is as simple as entering your details and getting started. We recommend setting up Facebook and Instagram accounts first since these sites have the most potential photography customers.
Now that you already have a lot of quality photos to display, and you also have an online portfolio that you can direct potential photography customers to, it is about time to begin advertising and promoting your photography services. The goal, at this point, is to secure paying photography customers.
It is worth noting that the purpose of your online photography portfolio is to convert potential clients into paying photography customers. Nevertheless, keep in mind that your online portfolio won’t bring clients for you from the get-go. You would need to exert some effort promoting and advertising your photography services and send people to your portfolio to see your art.
Don’t expect your online portfolio to generate you some leads without proactively promoting your services.
Invest in Your Business
When you are ready to take your photography career and business to the next level, you will need to invest more money, time, and effort in it to help with its success. However, before you start putting money into it, scour the world wide web for free services and websites to protect and promote your work.
Ensure that your photos are watermarked to prevent photo thieves and opportunists from downloading and using your photos without your consent. Then, focus on developing a strong online presence for your services through your social media accounts and online photography portfolio. Ask other photography blogs or sites to feature your images.
Although you might need to pay some amount upfront for digital marketing, the brand exposure for your business will indeed be worth it in the end.
Similar to other businesses and industries, professional photography can take time. Have patience while you identify your niche, create your online portfolio, and gather the referrals you need to advertise your skills and secure paying photography customers. Lastly, have faith in yourself and don’t lose your personal style in the process.