I want to hire you. Yes, you.
Your work is top notch. You and I are a perfect fit. The only problem is, I have no idea who you are.
The thing about the successful freelancers, is they never seem to be waiting for work to come around. Before you can reach that point, you need to become known. With any job hunt, you have to proactively look for opportunities. That’s why it’s called a hunt, isn’t it?
While it may seem daunting at first, the most important thing you have to do is to know the right people. Obviously, this is not going to happen overnight, which is why I’ve got some friendly advice for you, from one freelancer to another: get noticed, and get working.
It’s the basic idea for any job. How will clients start hiring you if they don’t know who you are? Thanks to the innovative developments of the global workplace, it’s now easier than ever to get out there and make yourself known. These are a few things you can do to say, “Hello world. I’m here!”
Networking is Key
When you know the right people, you’re halfway there.
Remember, there is never a lack of people out there who are looking for quality work; they just have to know how to find you. And when you have the right network, you’ll never run out of opportunities in your own circle. It might be difficult to begin, but you must identify a person who is willing to vouch for you and give you references. Meet up with these references, so that you’ll be top-of-mind when they need some work done in the future.
Referrals, referrals, referrals
Word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective ways to advertise yourself. It’s like having a marketing agency working just for you. If you take your time getting to know each prospect, they will not only remember you, but will also refer you to their own circle of colleagues. This is also why it’s important to have a personal name, business name, and website that’s catchy and easy to remember.
Meeting at Meetup.com
Exposing yourself to others in your field might look counterproductive, but it’s very helpful to join Meetup.com to attend photography group meetings. This is the perfect avenue to let participants know that you are a retoucher, not only a photographer (or not a photographer).
You are not a competitor, but someone who can actually complement their work. You can also attend photography sessions that are interesting to you. Learning how to take better photographs may very well help you to do better retouching.
Post on Craigslist
Posting on Craigslist doesn’t have to be quirky and filled with useless things. I post valuable information about my Photoshop classes there, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and interested calls over the years. These leads can offer solid partnerships.
If there’s one internet giant that you should be taking advantage of, it’s Google.
This company has taken the world by storm and it only makes sense that you should make use of its extensive tools. Take Google Local, for example. Simply enter your information into Google Local’s photography section.
Take your time and include all your details. You never know who might be looking for skills like yours in your area. Yelp.com is also a tool where Google gleans information from during local searches, so make sure they find you.
Show and Tell at Trade Shows
Photo expos provide an avenue for meeting photographers and companies who might need your expertise. You can exchange information and receive updates on their products. Always take the time to talk to people and get to know them. This simple task is crucial to getting more work from new (possible) clients.
Build Your Website
Online presence is extremely vital, especially in this virtual age. Never underestimate the potential of having a website. This is where you can establish your place on the internet: a way for people to find you, contact you, and otherwise see what you can do.
Post twenty or thirty examples of your best work on your website. Just be sure to show the work that came from different sources. You don’t want it to look like you have only had one client or job.
What I find works, is to keep the style the same, but vary the subjects. Meaning, that you should show that you can work on people (men, women, and children for example), but you don’t want it to look like you are all over the place with the types of jobs you do: landscapes, cats and baby portraits all in one portfolio. Diversify, but stick with your niche.
Join the Social Media Bandwagon
Social media does have professional uses. Just try and be focused.
For example, Facebook may hold the most users, but Pintrest is a visual medium, and that may be better for you to focus on. I personally know someone who landed a job from Disney, because of their Instagram feed. Amazing things can happen if you are visible to your potential clients.
After all those tips, it’s obvious that the bottom line is to just be as accessible as you can be. Eventually, you’re going to be the go-to guy for that special retouching that local photographers, even the ones you have never met before, all want to contact.
It might take years of focus, patience, and hard work, but it will eventually pay off. Every single time I want to give up, somone new comes through my door. If this is what you want to do, be easy to find, be available and stick with it.
Now that everyone knows who you are, what you do, and how to reach you; you’re going to start reeling in all those much-awaited jobs. Once you get a hold of job offers and client contracts, it’s important to know just how to give them the best results, without compromising your price or your quality.
Stick to a Couple of Clients
To be successful, you don’t need to have lots and lots of clients. It’s always best to just have a handful of clients whom you can build a good lasting relationship with, and who can provide you with work on a regular basis. Have a small professional group who knows what you are capable of. Then keep your portfolio current. You never know who is looking.
When you have regular clients who can vouch for you, they may be someone who will refer you to several other clients in their own network. They will be your referral base, and if you do a great job, you’ll have a steady group of clients who will be your bread and butter.
Focus on a Niche
It’s widely known that popular areas are in fashion, wedding, and beauty photography. But you should never limit yourself to these types of restraints. There is always a lot of retouching that needs to be done out there. When you find them, you’ll see that these jobs may pay better and have an unsaturated market.
All the best ideas, come from the work around you. Anything that prints marketing material, is a great market to get into. Be a big fish in a small market. It will help you grow and expand into other markets when you are ready.
Know Your Price
The sad mentality of freelancers is that they often lower the price for their services, just to get work. Freelancing websites like upwork.com or oDesk.com usually decrease the fair market rates paid for work.
You also have to bid and outbid your competitors. You should know how to price and demand your rates reasonably. You should never compromise and reduce your rates just to be available for hire. Know your value and stick to it. If they do not like your prices, then they are not the correct client for you. Just move on.
Turning Down Work
I turn down work sometimes. I may be busy, which is great, but sometimes the work just isn’t the best fit. If someone is offering low pay, low quality images, requires extensive masking and retouching skills.. oh, and needs it in like 12 hours…. just walk away.
Demanding clients who make unreasonable requests will only lead to more headaches later on.
To wrap up these thoughts, you should be building a solid portfolio, building a website, and using free services like Google Local, Pintrest, Behance, and anywhere you can think of, to get your images out there. Try to meet some professionals, whose work compliments your own.
Start small, and within your reach. Word of mouth will grow your business via networking within smaller circles. Once work starts coming in, you will be in a better position to charge more, and select better jobs for yourself.
Now, go out there, and be seen.
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