Make Money as a Photographer: 7 Steps to Start Earning Money

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  By Jennifer Berube
Make Money as a Photographer: 7 Steps to Start Earning Money

Many people love to photograph everyday life, capturing beautiful moments or scenery in a variety of ways, from a number of angles. Earning money from photography is a whole other level though, and takes more than just snapping a pretty picture when the chance arises. Fortunately, there are some basic steps you can follow in order to make yourself more marketable and bring more work your way.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the most important of these steps, so you can get started right away and ensure you’re on the right track!

1. Shoot Whenever Possible

This is a key to improving your performance as a photographer, and your confidence in yourself and your work. It’s a way to gain experience easily and without needing to rely on jobs, and is both a great way to improve your work in the field you want to work in professionally, and to try new styles or techniques of photography without any risk of upsetting clients. Friends and family make great resources here if you are interested in photographing people rather than items or scenes.

2. Create a Portfolio

Whatever work you do, whether paid or free, be sure to keep a copy. This way you can go through your collection of work and pick out the best parts, using them to create your very own portfolio. This can be sent to potential clients and also placed online, showcasing your ability and helping you to land more work. After all, nobody wants to hire somebody without seeing what they can do, right?

3. Get Good Equipment

At first it’s easy enough to start off with just a camera, and not a particularly great one at that. As you progress though it should always be a priority to upgrade and add to your equipment whenever possible. More equipment means you can cover more situations and do cover many different types of shots, adding to your repertoire. Better equipment also means better quality photographs, a must if you are serious about succeeding in this business.

4. Get a Mentor

The quickest way to get good at photography, and to start earning money, is to get a good mentor. A mentor is somebody who has already achieved what you are aiming for, and you don’t need to restrict yourself to just one either.

Your mentor can speed up the learning process for you as they show you what has and hasn’t worked for them, as well as passing on their experience in dealing with clients, knowing how much to charge, and marketing yourself. This information is incredibly valuable, as your mentor will have spent a long time accumulating experience and knowledge, something they can pass on to you in much less time than it takes for you to learn it yourself.

5. Take Whatever Work is Available

In the early days it’s always a good idea to take whatever work you are offered. Even small gigs can lead to repeat business and bigger jobs, and working in areas you don’t entirely want to at the start can get your foot in the door for more lucrative work later on. Also keep in mind that any paid work reflects well on you, as long as you do a good job. These jobs can provide good feedback, portfolio pieces, and marketing by word-of-mouth between potential clients.

6. Actively Look For Work

One of the most common mistakes made by newer photographers is to wait for work to come to them. Those who only post a portfolio and/or their details in various places, then wait for job offers, don’t usually get much work. Until you have a big base of clients and a well-known reputation it’s best to put as much time and effort as you can in to actively finding work.

Look for anybody that might need a photographer and try to offer your services, the more you get yourself out there the more likely you are to find work – and it’s a great way to build confidence dealing with new clients too!

7. Build a Client Base

Treat every client and job you get as a possible repeat customer and try to build up a number of clients that will come back to you for work when they need it. This gives you a steady flow of regular work and allows you to be more selective with the work you take on to fill any remaining free time.

With that said, clients who have been with you from the early days should expect to pay a little more as your ability and reputation grow, though it’s always a good idea to cut them a little extra slack when possible in return for their loyalty and to keep them referring others to you.

Follow these seven steps and you’ll notice it won’t be long before you gain the confidence you need to start making money as a professional photographer. It will take time, but it will be worth it!

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Before I became Editor-in-Chief of PHLEARN Magazine, I spent over five years specializing in Photography Writing and contributed articles regularly to sites like PictureCorrect, Sleeklens, and PhotoWorkout. Photography has always been a huge passion of mine; I may not be professionally trained in the art, but the knowledge and experience I have gained writing about photography techniques, interviewing some of the biggest and most inspiring photographers out there, and covering industry events has been invaluable!

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