The Amateur Professional: Getting started as a Freelance Content Producer

Professionally produced visual assets–from video to infographics to photography–have become as essential a component of web design & development as coding & UX design.  But the sales process is different.  People will come to a web-firm knowing, “I need a website.”  When the salespersons at a number of different firms quote high hourly rates–$100 an hour or more is a standard price tag that goes along with hiring a web developer–they assume, “That’s just what it costs,” and they sign a contract with someone charging that standard market rate.  Providing content for websites is much more complicated, since it can be had very cheaply from certain sources, and the sales process is much more “back channel.”  For the most part, web design firms are going to hire content creators, not the clients, and they are looking for arrangements that will allow them to make the maximum possible amount of profit (obviously), not necessarily “what am I going to have to pay for work that’s top of the line?”

Here are a few pieces of advice that I picked up over at Digital Photography School, that should be useful to any content producer trying to get into the game, not just photographers.

1.  Create a nice-looking website & keep it updated.

This is going to be a big key to making yourself available to folks who are searching for your services over the internet or on their mobile phones.

2.  The jobs that frighten tend to end up being the most important ones to get under your belt.

If you’re scared in many cases, that’s going to be a good thing.  It either means you’re about to destroy your reputation, or you’re about to experience hypergeometric growth.  If the former, that’s a bad thing.  If the latter, that’s a good thing.

3. When responding to a new lead, ask “What is your budget?” as soon as possible without being rude

You want to avoid coming off as rude, so this can’t be the first question you ask right after “Hello how are you,” but the earlier you ask the question the earlier the conversation is going to be one of two things: 1. Exciting, energizing, comfortable & transparent. 2. Over.

4.  Response time is key

If you can’t respond to email in a timely fashion, your client’s trust in you is going to diminish.

5.  Make lists

There are too many things to remember.  You need to write them all down if you plan on actually executing your way through your to-do list item by item.

6.  Set aside certain times of the day for channel surfing on the internet

Otherwise you’re going to get sucked into a wormhole the moment you need to focus on work the most.  Stress generates procrastinating behavior oftentimes, especially if you don’t have your life organized and compartmentalized.

7.  Compartmentalize your professional and social lives

This seems like common sense, but it’s actually hard for some people to do.  The fact is though, if you can’t reset by switching the off button for a few hours each evening and on the weekends, you’re going to get burnt out.  You may not want to believe this but it’s a fact.

8.  Make a schedule and stick to it

If you are at your desk at 9am, and you don’t let yourself leave–who knows–good things might start to happen by noon, or even before.  But if you keep on putting off the part where you sit down and get to work you’re never going to get anywhere.

9.  Caffeine vs. Cat-Napping

It’s hard to say which one is more useful/essential/healthy way to get an energy boost.  But you’re probably going to experiment with both over the course of your career as a freelancer.

10.  Figure out what your best lead source is & focus there

There are a million rabbit holes, but in the end you need to focus on two things: do you have more business than you can handle?  Then focus on your clients.  Do you need more business?  Focus on your richest lead source.  Bottom line.  End of story.

14.  Confidence is key

If you believe in yourself, your clients will believe in you.

Check out this great infographic to learn more about how to get started as a freelance photographer:
The Amateur Professional Infographic
Presented By Focus Camera