Business & Clients, Commercial Retouching

Key Steps to Freelance Success

Working as a freelance retoucher is not easy, especially if you’re just starting on your journey down this long and bumpy road. People often don’t understand how difficult it is, and the fact that you have the word “free” on your title makes people underestimate you more.

Often, they simply consider you as a Temp Hire.

Still, you can’t have these things bring you down. Nobody said that success would just fall from the sky—you have to work for it, knowing full well that you are good at what you do and that it will all be worth it. As with anything in life, a solid effort always pays off, so here are some universal tips to get you going.


1. Life Rewards Action

Unlike employees, you can’t just sit around and expect work to come to you. Make yourself known and get yourself out there. Economists always say that there is no such thing as a free lunch. You have to be proactive. When you’ve got something, do it with integrity and never stop learning from it. Ask questions; take notes.

I sure do. Every now and then, I actually read through them again, and I always find something I can work on and improve.

2. Open to New Ideas

Keep your curiosity burning. Let your thirst for knowledge never be quenched. There is always room for improvement, and if you become stagnant and stick to what you know, you will never be able to keep up with the dynamic change of the times.

You don’t want to be known as that guy who has the same retouching style for everything. A specific signature style might look good on one project, but might completely ruin another if done exactly the same way.

The world is always coming up with artistic new ways to be creative, so step out of your comfort zone and keep innovating.


3. Know Your Final Goal

As they say, you have to keep your eye on the prize. Being a freelancer opens you up to more distractions than working a regular nine-to-five job. But your discipline and focus will get you through to your final goal.

The same is true with your photo editing. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with all the tools at your disposal. If you go overboard with your effects, you might end up with a worse photo than the original.

Remember your goal. Is it to highlight the colors in her hair? Does his skin look a little pale? Does the background look too flat? Does everything seem too dull?



4. Keep It Simple

Like we said, don’t go crazy with your adjustments. Sometimes, the most subtle retouches produce the most mind-blowing results.

In most cases, you can spot an amateur’s work from a professional’s work based on the amount of effects that are glaringly obvious. An amateur would usually use as much effects as possible just because he can, while a professional would keep everything simple.

The best retouches are the ones that are barely there. It just enhances the overall beauty of an image and does not take the focus away from the actual subject of the photo.


5. Experiment and Tweak as You Go

As mentioned, never stop improving. You can even learn from your own work as you are working, and you just might surprise yourself.

Always sticking to one style might save you some time, but it will sacrifice the quality of your work. If you think there’s something more to be desired and something is a little bit off, your instincts are probably right.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.


6. Focus on Emotion

Notice the little twinkle in your subject’s eye?

The laughter, the candid moments, the surprise. These are the golden moments that you need to focus on in your photos. Make sure that whatever your retouches are, they have to enhance the emotion of the photo.

Adjust your tones and colors based on what you believe the image should feel like. Should there be cool undertones or warmer hues in the air?


7. Successful People Hustle

To achieve success, you have to take action. MAKE things happen; don’t wait for them.

In everything that you do, always put in a hundred and ten percent of effort. Create your own brand awareness by going that extra mile.

Trust us – your clients will notice.


8. Clients Buy the Results

After all that hard work, your clients are not going to be interested in what you do. They will only be interested in your results, and you have to make sure that these are worth their while.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if your results are no good, nobody is going to notice you.

You are not a photographer, or retoucher – they are a dime a dozen.You need to be THE moment, THE emotion, and remain timeless. You need to be THE solution to your clients problem.


9. Make Positive Results, Not Negative Excuses

Everybody screws up sometimes, and it’s natural.

The best thing you can do is own up to your mistakes, learn from them, and avoid them next time.

The worst thing you can do is make excuses. Your client is not going to care why that image was blurry. All you have to do is figure it out, and don’t make the same mistake again.


10. Quality is Your Top Priority

At the end of the day, the quality of your work is still the number one priority.

If you produce the best work and impress your clients, you are going to get referred to another client, who has another circle of networks who all need your retouching expertise.

A handful of satisfied clients will keep you afloat with steady work until everyone wants to avail of your services. Do your best and make sure every output you submit is top-notch.

Eventually, you’ll be on your way to reaching that proverbial finish line.


Key Steps to Freelance Success Part II: Working As A Freelancer
Key Steps to Freelance Success Part III: Building Your Career



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3 thoughts on “Key Steps to Freelance Success

  1. Great post, just what I needed to read! Know your point of destination or goal, use my hustle muscle and keep improving. Every. Day. These are points I am working on obsessively. nnnStay great Julia. Nothing else pays 🙂

    1. Thank you Raj! We have many contributors at Retouching Academy – this article was written by John Ross – his name and links to his Bio and links to his website are at the top of the article 🙂

      1. Thankyou Julia, I will check John Ross’s links out today.

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