If you have a boss-ass camera that can take boss-ass pictures, then you can start a photography business!
This post is designed to show newbie photographers how to get their first paid gig. Let's get started:
A classic way to generate some side income is when you have a piece of equipment others don't have. In this article we'll be assuming you have a camera that can take sweet pictures. You can then do one of three things:
1.) Use the camera for your own personal use (-$).
2.) Rent the camera to others for a fee (+$$).
3.) Use the camera to do photoshoots for money (+$$$$).
I've come across a ton of people who enjoy photography, and WANT to take the leap into getting paid to do it on the side, but they are either a bit afraid to start, or don't know HOW to start.
So instead of telling you what to do, your old Uncle Neville is just going to map out the entire process for you! Just copy/paste the scripts I make for you, or copy the scripts other people have successfully used.
These steps are specifically ordered like this to maximize for least effort and maximum results.
So let's get started to get your very first photography client!
Step 1.) Identify the specific service to sell:
Obviously within photography there's several TYPES of photography that tend to be easier, and some require more experience and lots of time commitment:
- Professional head shots. (Easy).
- Family photoshoots. (Easy).
- Dog portraits. (Easy).
- Photographing a business. (Easy).
- Wedding photos. (Harder).
If you don't know what you specifically want to sell, then let's just keep this mindset:
That promise is simple, to-the-point, not a huge sum of money, and not a huge time commitment (and you can change that formula to whatever amount or hours you think is right).
So we're now in the business of selling photography sessions! So where do we first promote our little service?
Step 2.) Post your photography offer on Facebook:
We're not asking for professional prices. We're not promising the best pictures on the entire planet. We're just putting out a small request to our friends that for $100 we will do a photography session for them.
Your personal friend network is going to be the easiest place to score a photography gig for several reasons:
- These people already like and trust you.
- They've probably already seen your great photographs on facebook or social media.
- They are highly likely to refer to you to other people.
It's often a scary prospect for people to "sell" like this, so that's why I've typed out a template to help you. You can literally copy/paste this script onto your Facebook (obviously change up the contact info), and you will quickly find out if people want your service:
This is a VERY simple and low-risk thing to post on Facebook. Most people are actually shocked how quickly this script works.
Often within 1-hour to 24-hours people get gigs (if not MULTIPLE gigs)!
It's simple as copy/pasting the above script onto Facebook, just like this:
If you do anything else from this post, just do this ONE step as a small "experiment" and see what happens.
Side Note: Some people are afraid they sell themselves too short with this initial offer. To them I say: WHO FREAKIN CARES.
Every single high-paid person I've ever met started out doing stuff for super-cheap. The point was they first GOT STARTED, then as their demand increased, their prices increased too.
Am I expecting you to make a career out of $100 photoshoots? No.
I am expecting you to GET STARTED by offering a fairly low price compared to professional photographers.
Step 3.) Post to Facebook Groups:
This part requires being part of groups on Facebook where your photography services might be useful. Since we’re selling photography sessions, it would be useful to post in groups where people might be interested....since these sessions will be in-person sessions, post to groups that are local to your area.
Since I live in Austin, I would post to these pages:
Austin Entrepreneurs Facebook Group:
"Hey Austinites, I'm offering a professional set of headshots for only $100...."
Austin Photography Group:
"Hey professional photogs, if you need an extra shooter for a gig, let me know. Prices start at $100."
Austin Startups Group:
"Hey Austin Startups, I'm a photographer that can come and take professional headshots or team photos. For only $100 I can come do a 1-hour long photoshoot for your company."
Austin Young Entrepreneurs and Job Seekers:
"Hey there, if you want your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Resume to look far more professional, I am offer a 1-hour photograpjy where we find you the perfect headshot! Here are some recent examples of my work....."
Step 4.) Post to Craigslist:
Craigslist is still a super hot place for people to buy services like Photography!
You will first need to navigate to the Services –> Creative section of Craigslist:
Then you can copy/paste this script into an ad:
Depending on where you are in the world, you can post this same script as a "visual picture ad." I made you a sample one below. You can click the picture and it will bring you to a Google Drawing which you can save as an image.
To edit the document, just do File --> Make A Copy:
The other way to get gigs from Craigslist is to actively seek out photographer requests and followup. These can be found in a little section found under Gigs --> Creative.
It could be worth your time to check this section everyday looking for photography gigs. HOWEVER, you'll generally get a better match when you post your own ad (It's Craigslist, so a lot of the listings are still pretty shady) :-P
Step 5.) Make a One-Pager flyer to post:
Honestly this is the step most people skip, because the other methods get them clients so quickly!
A One-Pager is a single sheet of paper you can hand out that gives people a high-level overview of your service.
The best part about these One-Pagers is that we can stick em up on a wall in front of everyone's face!
Here's a One Pager I made for our new photography service:
(You can click that image and go to the Google Doc it was made in.
Then click File --> Make A Copy to edit your own version).
This ad isn't designed to be pretty...it's designed simply to get people who are interested in a photography session to call us:
You can print a bunch of these babies out and plaster them all around town!
- Post one in a college union center...maybe a student wants some professional headshots.
- Post one at a local coffee shop...maybe some cool hipster dude will grab a session.
- Post one at a music store...maybe a band will grab a group photoshoot.
- Post one at a daycare...maybe someone will want a family photoshoot.
The best part is these can be printed on a regular ink-jet printer for extremely cheap. Just $1 worth of flyers can potentially bring in hundreds or even thousands of dollars!
Now some people are still quite timid when trying to promote a service for the first time....and that's 100% normal.
So maybe instead of just TELLING you what to do, we also SHOW you three examples of people who've gone from "person with a camera" to "paid photographer."
Example: Linda's $240 email
Example: Rimp's first gig was a birthday Party:
Example: JohnRoss gets free dinners:
Example: Christina's first $75 gig using a Kodak point-and-shoot camera:
Download this post and all templates:
--Keep this entire post and templates for your own files--
--Download as PDF, Google Doc, or Microsoft Word--
--Share with colleagues and friends--
P.S. What was your first gig as a photographer? How much did you get paid?
Share your story here. It may just help someone a bit nervous about starting!