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9 Best Tips to Become a Successful Freelance Photographer

by Alexandra Bateman on Sep 10, 2023

Do you want to become a freelance photographer? Having your own photography business can give you a lot of freedom and fulfillment, but you might not be sure where to start. In this article, we will share our 9 best tips for becoming a successful freelance photographer.

How to Get Your Start as a Freelance Photographer

Many successful photography businesses start off doing part-time freelance work, and then gradually become full-time freelance photographers.

However, freelance photography can be different as it poses some special challenges.

First, photography is an art. It takes a special passion and skill to successfully capture the beauty of a scene. Second, all the gadgets you need are pretty expensive compared to other freelance businesses. To get started in web development, for instance, pretty much all you need is a laptop.

To succeed at your photography business, you will need to have a good understanding of photography techniques. You’ll also need to make an initial investment in some gear.

That being said, we have some tips for getting your business off the ground with relatively little expense. We’ll show you how to purchase only the necessary basics. We’ll also show you how to really standout so you can be a successful freelance photographer.

Here are our top freelance photographer tips:

1. Purchase Your Equipment

Before you start work, you have to invest in good equipment, so you can be confident in your ability to perform your job.

Regardless of your photography field, you only need a few pieces of equipment to start a freelance photography business, including a camera, lenses and a flash.

Equipment for Freelance Photographer
Image by Isaac Steiner

You may also need reflectors, diffusers and lights to create high quality photos. This is especially true for photographers who shoot portraits, real estate or stock photography.

Reflector for Freelance Photographers
Image by Shaw Academy

Out of all of these pieces of equipment, good lenses are the most important. So once you start making an income, we recommend that you spend some of that money to purchase new lenses.

Camera Lenses
Image by Angela Higgins

To learn about the prices of photography equipment, check out this detailed guide on how much does it cost to start a photography business.

2. Set Up Your Website

As a freelance photographer, you’ll need a professional photography website to show off your work. Your website also helps you spread the word about your photography business. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about web design, because WordPress makes it easy to create a personalized photography portfolio online.


But your website can be more than just a portfolio. You can also use your website to communicate with clients, schedule sessions, manage orders, and even deliver completed work.

Schedule a Session
Image via Derksen Photography

The best place to start is with a WordPress site and a good photography template. Here are the 55 best free WordPress themes for photographers.

Also check out these 21 best WordPress plugins for photographers.

3. Build Your Portfolio

Every freelance photographer needs a strong portfolio in order to attract clients.

When you are first starting out, we recommend doing some work for free to build your portfolio. You can also find local models who need portraits for their modeling portfolio, and that way you both benefit.

Once you’ve done some free work, you’ll need to display it on your website. Check out the Envira Gallery Albums Addon to add a stunning portfolio to your website.

Paginated Albums

4. Get Your First Clients

There are many online platforms for photographers to get traction and clients, such as Pinterest and other social media, imgur.com, blogging and word of mouth from friends and family.

Create a blog and write regularly to attract new clients. A blog also teaches your visitors about your work and builds your trust with them as a professional.

How to Start a Photography Blog
Image via WhoIsHostingThis?

It’s also a good idea to keep in touch with existing clients on a regular basis via an email newsletter. A strong network can help you get repeat clients, and additional work through referrals.

MailChimp is a good free email newsletter tool for photographers. OptinMonster is what we recommend for adding beautiful email signup forms to your website.

5. Create a Schedule

Keeping track of your freelance photography jobs can be difficult, especially as your business grows. That’s why it’s important to have a detailed schedule.

We recommend that you use the BirchPress Scheduler WordPress plugin on your website to take appointments and show your availability to clients.

With BirchPress, you can also manage your clients, services, your calendar and more from inside your WordPress dashboard:

BirchPress Dashboard

6. Edit Before Delivery

The best way to become successful as a freelance photographer is to produce such amazing work for your clients that they can’t help but rave about you.

To do that, you should always edit and enhance your photos before delivering them to your clients.

This editing may include a background adjustmentcolor balancingfixing insufficient light and enhancing skin tones.

Photo Editing
Image via Vanilla Tree Photography

To help your post processing workflow, check out our list of the 9 best photo editing software for photographers.

7. Manage Your Finances

When you work for someone else your salary is guaranteed. So becoming a freelance photographer and suddenly being in charge of your own salary can be a bit scary.

But if you do a good job managing the income and expenses for your photography business, you can eliminate a lot of that fear.

Remember to pay yourself a salary and keep your business expenses separate from your other bills. That way, you’ll know how much money you have left to invest in your business. And, you won’t be tempted to make those purchases out-of-pocket.

8. Attend Workshops

Continuing education is important for freelance photographers, because you have to keep your skills sharp.

Attend a local photography workshop, sign up for a community college course, or study an online course.

Attend Workshops for Freelance Photographers

Here are some of the best free online photography courses.

Not only will you learn new skills, you’ll also have the opportunity to grow your network and get support from fellow freelance photographers.

9. Boost Your Confidence

You should be confident in your photography skills: you are a professional photographer. To be successful as a freelancer, you need to show potential clients that you can confidently deliver the work they need.

Take experience from multiple shoots. Note what worked and what didn’t work in different situations. The more experience you get, the more you will hone in on your skills. You will become a more confident photographer with every step.

We hope this article helped you to know the 9 best tips to become a successful freelance photographer. You may also want to check out the 21 best free web apps to grow your photography business.

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  1. Thanks for this article. I’m more inclined to pursue a career in freelance photography now! This definitely assured me on everything I was scared of in freelance photography, and I will definetly always refer to this in my journey! Thank you!

  2. You compiled a really great list of helpful resources. However, I would like to add a few tips regarding the exposure gaining process. You mentioned using Pinterest and blogging as a great way to promote yourself, but do not forget the power of social media( I know Pinterest falls into this category, but I am talking about some other platforms. Indeed, Pinterest is a great resource, but it doesn’t provide that level of interactivity that some potential clients may need.

    Platforms such as Facebook provide the opportunity to spread the content at an incredible speed (they have even some advertising services, so if you have some money to invest, I think it worth the shot).

  3. Hi,

    is it necessary as a freelancer to get a license, insurance and contracts starting off as a freelancer?

    1. Hello! Everything you’ve listed there is very helpful for making your freelance business appear professional and for protecting yourself and your work. However, it depends on what kind of freelancing you’re going to do. For instance, insurance may not be needed right away if you’re taking photos around your house and selling them on stock photography sites. Ultimately, you’ll need to use your best judgment for what you need to begin. I hope that helps!

    2. It depends on the state. I live in Washington and I just registered my trade name. That’s all they required for it here. Call your local Labor and Industries to see what they require.

  4. People like more freedom and in freelancing there is full freedom. they can work from anywhere for the world. very informative post. Thanks

  5. Nice tips, thansk! I just wanted to ask what sites can you advice for a young photographer for freelancing?

  6. Well I want to become a freelance photographer I registered myself on different big freelancing websites but still no much success I gained. Please suggest me more things any expert advice to do things better in the same field.

  7. Hi i’m am a 16 year old who loves taking pictures. I keep getting told that i cant be a Photographer unless i go to collage and spend thousands and thousands of money, But i know that that is not true because i can be a Freelance Photographer and still make money and still follow my dreams i am glade that i have found this website because now i have the confidence and courage that i need in order to follow my dreams to be a Freelance Photographer.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing the insights. In 3 weeks I’m resigning from my job to study full-time and I now have the confidence I’ll do just fine with my new venture as a freelance photographer.

  9. Hi Thank you for this helpful tips on how to get into the photography field. I want to make photography as a full time job. I hope to connect with you in the future. HAPPY SHOOTING 2020

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