Getting Your First Few Paying Photography Jobs

by Greg DePersio

2 min read

The first step to advancing from an amateur freelance photographer to a professional is finding paid clients. You have the passion, the talent, and the experience, and you’ve put together a respectable portfolio, so why not get paid for your work? Finding paying photography freelancer jobs isn’t difficult, nor should it be intimidating. Even if you don’t have an expansive natural market and aren’t particularly extroverted, you can make use of numerous resources to land your first paying photography jobs.

Freelance Job Boards

Dozens of websites exist that match workers looking for freelance jobs online with people who need the services they offer. Some of these sites charge a small fee to post a job, while others let you post for free but take a small percentage of your revenue when you land paying clients. When starting out, make use of as many of these sites as you can, in particular those that do not charge an up-front fee.

One word of caution: customers on freelancing websites are notorious for chasing the lowest bidder. In other words, if another freelancer is willing to do the work for half the price, a good chance exists that he or she will win the job over you. Starting out, it might be wise to take a few of these low-paying jobs, if only to gain positive feedback for your work. Once your portfolio starts racking up five-star reviews, it becomes much easier to charge what you’re actually worth and attract good clients willing to pay for quality work.

Direct Marketing

If looking for photography freelance jobs online and competing with dozens of other freelancers sounds too stressful, consider marketing directly to individuals and businesses that need photographers. Real estate companies and car dealerships are two fantastic places to start. Cast a wide net by gathering email addresses for as many relevant companies as you can find, composing a short introduction letter, and then attaching a link to your online portfolio in your opening email. Marketing this way is a numbers game. You may have to send out 50 emails to land one paying gig, but that means if you send out 250 emails, you’re likely to have five paying jobs. Alternatively, you can take a more personal approach by identifying who you think would make the best clients, and approaching these people or businesses in person with your portfolio in tow.

General Job Boards

Sometimes businesses look for independent contractors on general job boards. These gigs aren’t as plentiful on traditional job boards as on freelance boards, but the other side of the equation is that fewer freelancers are trolling these boards and competing with you.

Moreover, even if a company is looking for someone to come on board full time, it might still be open to hiring you on a contract basis, especially if your portfolio impresses it. No matter what method you use to find paying photography jobs, remember the numbers game mentality. The more prospects you contact, the more jobs you land.

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