Greetings, Friends! Apologies for the long radio silence. The last Monthly Highlights post I did was in February 2017, so this is a very long overdue post. When you see the stats below (at the end of the blog), maybe that will explain part of my absence. It’s been a crazy 8 months full of travel, two weddings (mine!), venturing into new projects, and of course photo shoots! I’ll give you a brief rundown below, along with some insights into where I’ve been getting clients and what type of work I’ve been doing.
Also, because the Monthly Highlights stats are so long for this post, they’re at the end of my blog this time.
I’m going to lead by talking a bit about my personal life. Almost a year after we got engaged, Martin and I got married–twice! We did a legal ceremony here in Seattle in August. Then we jetted off to Italy for almost a month for a honeymoon, ceremonial wedding with our families, and another honeymoon. That was a whirlwind trip that started on the Amalfi Coast, wound up through Rome to Tuscany, and then took us through the Dolomites (Italian Alps), finishing in Milan.
If you’re curious, you can see some of my Seattle wedding photos and Italy wedding photos over on my other blog, Gemini Connect. The travel photos from Italy are still being worked on. But this is the perfect segue to the next section.
Ramping Up The Travel Blog
For a long time, this blog, Intrepid Freelancer, was a mixture of my personal musings, travel blogs, and some educational photography content. Last year, I decided to focus this blog on the subject of how to start a photography business. My travel photos and blogs moved over to Gemini Connect, a blog that I run with my partner in crime, Martin. Until recently, Gemini has been pretty devoid of organization and content. However, all of that has changed recently as the blog went through a big design overhaul. The content is also more focused on more practical travel tips and itineraries to destinations around the world, with a special focus on our home of the Pacific Northwest.Anyway, enough about that. But if you’re curious, certainly head over to the blog, check it out, and subscribe!
Doing More Video Work
While on our destination wedding and honeymoon in Italy, I was loaned a Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone to test. Little did I know that this would become a permanent, necessary tool in my photography gear kit! Not only is the photo quality pretty darn good on this smartphone, but the video quality is impressive. I ended up filming almost our entire Italy trip on this phone and came back to Seattle determined to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: videography.
As of this moment, my video work is largely personal as I learn the ins and outs of filming and video editing. But starting next year, my goal is to make video a bigger part of my freelance income. If you’re curious, I have a YouTube channel with some video content, mostly focused on travel and drone work. The YouTube channel is branded under Gemini Connect, mainly because it’s a joint effort between Martin and I. You might see some more personal vlogs and Intrepid Freelancer content in the future. Below is a fun video we made using a mix of the Galaxy S8, Sony a6300, and DJI Mavic Pro drone.
I’m still on a honeymoon high, making it tough to remember that work life has also been ramping up this year. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
What Kind of Photography Work I’ve Been Doing
A pretty big chunk of my freelance photography work and income is in the realm of editorial photography for local news sites and blogs. Yes, I know journalism is going down the toilet, and my monthly checks definitely agree. Realistically, I know that editorial photo work will probably continue to decline in the near future. But in the meantime, I’m taking full advantage of the opportunities for three main reasons.
- For name recognition. Seeing your name printed as a byline (photo credit) in a local or national publication certainly makes your pride swell. But more importantly, it adds credibility to your name among readers (who could be prospective clients!).
- For SEO. Similar to the point above, editorial work boosts your website’s search engine optimization rankings when they link back to your portfolio website. If you ever have a photo printed in an online publication, make sure that a link back to your website is part of the deal.
- For lead generation. In all honesty, editorial work doesn’t pay all that much. But what does pay is the ability to generate leads with prospective photography clients. Every time I shoot at a restaurant or business while on editorial assignment, I always make a point to introduce myself to the general manager. I hand them my business card and tell them that I’m available for hire if they ever need photos. More often than not, this does actually lead to client-direct work!
The scenario I described above is client-direct work, where clients hire and work with you directly to create images. For most photographers, this is ideal since you’re in control of the rates, creative approach, etc. However, client-direct work can also be more intimidating because the photographer must set all standards and deliver what is promised.
This year, I scored contracts some of my dream photography clients. While this was mostly good news, I also ended up psyching myself out a few times. Scoring a new client or job is just one piece of the puzzle. You then have to work your hardest to deliver your very best work to your client. This realization has led to some photography anxiety and sleepless nights before shoots, but luckily, everything worked out in the end.
How I’ve Been Getting Photography Clients
Lead generation through editorial assignments
I went into more detail about this above, but it’s worth repeating. Editorial work may not be able to pay all of your bills, but it’s extremely valuable to me for making in-person connections with prospective clients.
Word of mouth
A chunk of my recent photography work has come from friends of friends. You know, that person who you haven’t talked to in ages who messages you out of the blue wondering if you can take photos for their friend? Sometimes, these opportunities can turn into really big photo projects! I find this to be especially true here in Seattle when so many of my Facebook friends work for big companies.
This is why it’s very important to remind your personal and professional network of what you do. You certainly don’t want to inundate their feeds and inboxes every day. But be sure to make a visual post about your latest photo projects every month or so. You never know who might be watching and could end up hiring or referring you to a photography job.
Referrals from Other Photographers
As you may have noticed, I like to travel a lot, and often for long periods of time. What happens to my photography work and clients while I’m gone? Some of my client-direct work will actually plan photo shoots around my travel schedule, which is a very fortunate situation. But often times, I have photo client requests that can’t wait until I’m back. So I refer that work to a small group of local photographers that I know and trust can do the job effectively. When I’ve returned from traveling, those photographers often return the favor.
If you haven’t already, start building a network of like-minded creatives and professionals. This is important not only for morale but also for covering gigs when you can’t. Best of all, it’s often a win-win, and your network will return the favor by referring you to jobs that they can’t cover.
The final source of photography clients this year has been my longtime friend in business Google. My photography website portfolio has excellent SEO. I’m not saying that to brag; it’s a true statement that drives new clients to my email inbox every month. Below is a snapshot of the amount of traffic that’s gone toward my Google My Business listing over the last quarter. If you haven’t yet, check out my guide on how to get a Google My Business account to take advantage of this great free resource.
My One Photography Problem
It’s never all sunshine and rainbows in the photography world. This year, I’ve had one recurring problem that was getting so out of hand I had to address it. That problem is backing up my data.
I’ve always been pretty loose when it comes to photo backups. For many years, my strategy has been one main external hard drive for RAW files with an online backup to Crash Plan. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any major data backup problems until this year when I had three in a row. All of these problems were mostly self-caused. A couple of times, I got so busy with photo shoots that I formatted my memory cards before downloading the images (luckily, these were food shoots that could be re-done). But the BIG one that gave me a huge panic attack was when my 2TB external hard drive failed right as I was working on it. Thankfully, I had 80% of my work backed up on CrashPlan and 10% on memory cards that hadn’t yet been formatted. The other 10% would have cost over $2,000 to maybe recover, so I took the loss.
Since then, CrashPlan also announced that they’re pulling the plug on their service, so I’ve had to find new backup plans. I’ll go into more detail on my new backup strategy in a future post. Until then…I’d love to hear what your photo backup system is like. Comment below or ping me with ideas!
That, in a nutshell, has been a brief recap of what’s been going on in my world for the better half of this year. Blogging has obviously taken a bit of a back seat, but I’m ramping up with new posts, so stay tuned for more! As always, contact me anytime with thoughts, ideas, or feedback on what kind of content I can make to help you with your photography business.
March – October 2017 Photography Business Stats
Monthly Highlights Series
20 Photo shoots,127 hours worked, 282 Business miles driven
20 Photo shoots,124 hours worked, 161 Business miles driven
39 Photo shoots, 219 hours worked, 671 Business miles driven
25 Photo shoots, 178 hours worked, 597 Business miles driven
23 Photo shoots, 130 hours worked, 652 Business miles driven
41 Photo shoots, 154 hours worked, 609 Business miles driven
12 Photo shoots, 52 hours worked, 153 Business miles driven
21 Photo shoots, 179 hours worked, 683 Business miles driven