Snag Yourself a Photo Job!
Want to take photos? (Yes!) Want to make money? (Yes!) Want to do both at once? (Double yes!)
Photo jobs aren’t as rare as one may think. Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig or simply want to make a little extra cash, you just gotta know where to look and how to market yourself.
So we’ve got tips to help you find work while simultaneously making it easier for employers and customers to find you.
Get ready to call yourself a working photographer! Cha-ching!
1. Put Together a Sweet Portfolio
Having an eye-catching portfolio is a must! In most cases it’s even more important than an impressively lengthy resume.
And now that we’re in the age of the internet, you can say buh-bye to physical folders full o’ prints and hello to the digital portfolio. They’re easy (and free!) to make on sites like WordPress or Tumblr.
It may also interest you to buy a domain name (yournamegoeshere.com) with inexpensive sites like Name Cheap. Custom domain names tend to look a little more professional, and the really cool thing is that you can use them with your free WordPress and Tumblr blogs!
2. Don’t be Afraid to Cold-call
Just because you don’t see any photo job listing doesn’t mean people aren’t hiring. So try cold-calling! This means making unsolicited contact with potential customers or employers and saying, “Hey! I’m awesome! Want to hire me?”
Despite the name, email is the preferred method for cold-calling because you can attach your resume and portfolio. Introduce yourself, define your service, then politely inquire as to whether the recipient is looking to hire. Even if they’re not hiring at the moment they can always consider you for future work now that they have your info!
Good places to cold-call include visitor’s bureaus, high school and university marketing departments, newspapers and magazines, community art centers, and chambers of commerce.
3. Hand Out Business Cards
Business cards are a great way to spread your contact information around town for potential customers/employers. Consider it a more subtle form of the cold-call.
Sites like Vista Print make designing and printing business cards simple and inexpensive. Include your website address, as well as your email addy or phone number (or both). Put one of your photos on the cards to show off your talent right from the get-go. If you need more ideas, we even have an article all about creating really cool-looking designs!
Pass your cards out to local businesses like restaurants, clothing stores, and hair salons. Not only is there a chance that the businesses will be interested in hiring you for some work, but sometimes they’ll be willing to place your cards in a place where customers can take one for themselves.
4. Get Social on Social Media
You can use social media to get the attention of local businesses. Most places have a Facbook or Twitter, so take advantage of this by making contact and putting some of your photos right under their noses!
For example: snap some delicious-looking shots of a local cafe’s food and then upload it to Twitter. Make sure to tag the cafe! If they see your amazing shot, they’ll perhaps think, “Hmm we can hire that photog to take MORE flattering photos of our food.” This may seem like a long shot but believe us, this technique can work!
Don’t forget to make sure your contact info is readily available in your profile. This includes a link to your portfolio!
5. Photograph Local Events
(For Free…for now!)
Take your work to the streets! Check out local events such as farmer’s markets and photograph the booths and products. Print your best shots and hand them out to the vendors (attach your business cards to the photos!).
This is not only a great way to get noticed, but it’s a great way to get people to remember you because you’re providing a helpful service without even being asked! Vendors are likely to be delighted at seeing their products photographed so professionally, and they may be interested in hiring you in the future.
You may not love the idea of taking and handing out photos for free, but think of it as a preview for potential customers. You’re promoting yourself, and that’s an important first step!
Taking it further
- Check out our series on starting a photo business! We provide a ton of food for thought to help you decide whether you’re ready to take the “be your own boss” plunge!
- Freelance work means deciding (and sometimes negotiating) what you charge for your services. This can be pretty tricky, so contact other photographers through sites like SCORE.org and ask for some professional advice.
- Give it time. Remember that nothing happens overnight, so be patient. Pass out your business cards, update your portfolio, and keep your head up!