I’m not going to pretend I am the richest photographer, or most successful, but I do pay my bills, get published regularly, and rather enjoy my career in photography and filmmaking. People often ask what is my big piece of advice for launching a career in professional photography that can sustain you full time. Well, I could go on for days about my personal philosophies, but here is one crucial element that all of you can do: keep busy.
When I am not shooting, I am editing, or planning out scheduled marketing, or searching for new clients, or shooting personal portfolio projects. Make lists of goals. Without goals, you dont know where you are heading and why or what you should do. Make short term goals and long term goals. Make to-do lists that include completing current projects on time (obviously) and if/when youre done, planning out ways to expand your portfolio and ways to reach out to new clientele.
When reaching out for new clients, think of a specific niche for yourself. If you fancy yourself a wedding photographer, or band photographer, or car photographer, reach out to clients that specifically would be interested in that specialty. Also, build a portfolio (web, ipad, or print) that reflects your specific niche so you may show them. As I have said before, few clients respond to promises of “I’ll do a good job, just trust me” on projects where you show no prior experience. Don’t be afraid to cold-call (or cold-email). Be persistent with clients you really want to work with. Trust me, I am sure I have been annoying from time to time with my persistence, but much like trying to convince an out-of-your-league girl to go out with you, they cave… eventually. I’m kidding folks, I’m kidding.
Make goals (short and long), keep to do lists, when you aren’t shooting a job you should be either shooting for your portfolio and developing a specific niche for yourself and marketing yourself to specific clientele that reflects your niche rather than the shotgun marketing approach.
If you have any other advice, feel free to comment below! You can see me speaking more about becoming a profitable full-time photographer at Photoshop World DC this weekend (March 2012). Some inspiration below.