How I went from freelance to a Full Time Photographer

Back in 2010 when I began my journey with 'Luke Holroyd Photography' I was juggling part time jobs to ensure my  business kept on growing. Taking the step up to become a full time photographer was a huge transition for me and I am often asked how I did it. Unfortunately, there was no overnight secret for me, but here's a few tips that I used to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Budget your Income

As I mention regularly on this blog, the photography industry is very saturated, so it's very important to know you will have the work to support your business and lifestyle when you decide to take the leap. 

Try and create a forecast of your incomings and outgoings for the next 12 months, ask yourself if it's enough and always plan for a couple of slow months..  I certainly prepare myself for late December into February as it's the quietest time for me. 

Watch your Spending

Working for yourself and running your own business can be very stressful financially, so watching your expenses is a brilliant habit to begin with. I was never one of those people who shopped around for the best price, I quickly realised that to make my dream of running my own business a reality, I had to make sacrifices when it came to expenditure. 

There are plenty of ways you can cut back expenses in a photography business. Work out if it is cheaper to buy or rent that new lens and take into account how much you will use it compared to the rental per day costs. Consider working from home until your business is stable enough to run a shop front or studio, I wrote a great article a few weeks ago on How I work from Home . Finally, it may not be everyone’s dream but manage how much your spending on your everyday lifestyle, those few Costa Coffees or evening Takeaways could cost you £20 a month, that’s over £200 a the year that could go towards that new lens? 

Raise Your Price

In 2014 I raised my Wedding Photography prices from £500 to over £1000, back then the thought terrified me and I genuinely thought it could destroy my business. You must remember that running a business needs to be profitable and that isn't just the cost of your overheads vs your incoming invoices, you also need to consider your own hourly rate and look at the prices out there in the market. 

I decided to raise my prices as each wedding, including the administration before, pre wedding shoots, the wedding day, editing, and more administration takes me 1-2 working weeks in full, not to mention my expenses such as camera gear, editing software, printing costs, packaging and much much more.

Finally, don't be scared about losing business if you raise your prices. In most cases as long as your photography is of a high standard, that price reflects your own value you see in your work and customers will see that. If you're like me you will want people to book you as they want you to photograph their Wedding, a reasonable price will reflect your professionalism and the business.

Know Your Business & Brand

You may be tempted to become a 'Jack of All Trades' Photographer and if you want a business that covers all genres of 'Photography' there is nothing wrong with that. Being open to all photography work or having a niche both have pro's and con's.

Exploring your niche and building a business around it certainly helps you structure your business, marketing and social media to a more targeted audience. You may consider splitting your business into categories. I run both my Wedding Photography and Commercial photography businesses using separate websites and marketing techniques to target both audiences. 

Share and Blog Your Work

There are two key tools I use to get my work out there. First is social media, for me Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn provide me with useful platforms to share my work with my target audiences. Social Media is both a free and paid tool you should be using, but don't use it to push sales onto your audience, keep them updated with quality photographs, interact with comments and use a small percentage of your posts to sell your products.  

Blogging your photographs is also a fantastic way to generate traffic back to your website, not to mention how beneficial platforms like Pinterest can be to help generate interest in your blogs. I blog every wedding I capture, and if you're looking to start a Photography business I would highly recommend Blogging and it's free.. Bonus!! 

Networking

Networking was one of the biggest tools I maximised when starting my business and I still continue to network now. It's not only a fantastic way to reach new audiences in your community and gain trust, but also a brilliant way to build relationships and create a database of talented businesses and creatives in your area. 

I recently wrote a blog post dedicated to Networking, if you want to find out more in-depth ideas for networking go and have a read. 


Are you thinking about going from a part time to full time professional photographer? Do you have any expert tips to share on how you to the leap? 


Start Networking Face to Face, it works!

Being a Photographer can be a lonely job, and to do well I surrounded myself with creative people and businesses. Networking was one of the biggest tools I maximised when starting my business and I still continue to network now, it's not only a fantastic way to reach new audiences in your community and gain trust but also a brilliant way to build relationships and create a database of talented businesses and creatives in your area. 

I'm not a networking expert, but I do try and attend as many beneficial network events as I can. I prefer face to face networking that isn't solely focused on sales, I'm often invited to corporate networking events that come with a large invoice to become a member, personally I've found them to be very pushy and very sales focused so I tend to stay away. 

Here's a few of my tips and thoughts on face to face networking: 

Attend, Get out there and Introduce Yourself

Trust me, your first networking event can feel slightly strange, and this is why so many people shy away from networking. Networking is a brilliant way to introduce your business and talk about how awesome your business is. Introducing yourself in person can go a long way, be enthusiastic about your work and don't forget to ask others what they do. 

Don't try and sell 

I never go to networking events with the intention to sell my services, I don't want to come across as the pushy sales guy just handing out my business cards and asking for sales. I genuinely like chatting to people about photography and creative services, and don't just talk about yourself, it's good to listen and I learn so much from other people. 

Be Approachable

Make sure your body language is open and you look like you're enjoying yourself, most people who attend networking events are in the same boat as you, so approach people, spark conversations, ask them if they've been before and keep it informal. 

Collaborate

I find face to face networking a great way to meet other creatives that I can work with and collaborate with. I try and put people first and then business second, if I can make bonds with people, keep the contact details handy, I never know when I'll be needing them. 

Attend Workshops & Conference Events

Workshops are a brilliant way to brush up on your skills and meet new contacts along the way.  As a Photographer there is a host of workshops I attend, anything from Marketing & Social Media, Creative Writing Courses and Photography talks. No doubt workshops and conferences will be filled with people of a similar interest and business, so get talking to people, learn new skills and talk to your competitors. I try and build up relationships with all my competitors, it's good to have people with a similar interest and skill set in your phone book and not to mention recommending other photographers to Brides & Grooms when you're fully booked. 


Can you recommend a great networking group? Do you have any tips for people attending their first networking event?