First year of freelance: my thoughts

The first thing that springs to mind is how HARD the whole thing is. I didn’t come into this naive and think it would be easy, but it’s   so intense because every aspect is down to you, truthfully, it can be very overwhelming. Being someone who isn’t great with organisation, i’m not particularly extroverted or confident and I have no background in business management, I wasn’t particularly hitting the ground running. With a bit of persevering, every day I find myself getting just a little bit better,  more experienced and most importantly, more confident 

The hardest thing I found at the beginning was trying to bring in a client base. The basics is that I was trying to convince potential clients to use my services when I have a very limited professional portfolio. The majority of my portfolio at the beginning was based upon personal projects or university projects. 

Trying to find the balance between doing free or reduced price work to build a portfolio and being a business and trying to earn some money is difficult. my long and short is that you need to be making money to live off, so you need to bring in paid work. But to get paid work I needed a solid portfolio which you only bring in through sacrificing time to partake in projects that might not be paid or are for a reduced fee. 

Because I was bringing less money than I had hoped I had toto think of some way to bring in some regular income, working at my ‘uni job’ was my best option. I always loved this job, it took me to places that I didn’t know existed, met some incredible people and pushed my mental working limit to the edge, performing better and better every time I worked. It was the most perfect job for me in so many aspects. But when summer came around and the workload got heavier, I couldn’t help but think that I should be working these jobs but with my camera, working as event photographer. That’s what gave me the power to be able to leave that job at the end of the year and to be able to push myself into freelance photography full time.

In september, ss an alternative way to increase exposure and hopefully bring in some income, I decided to sell my images as prints. I started selling at craft fairs and shortly after expanded into Etsy.

As christmas came around I created a selection of christmas cards, and started to sell them at craft fairs and on Etsy. These was mainly to increase exposure and get my brand name out there, which I think was successful. I have met some some great people at these craft fairs, both customers and other sellers, with a selection of people interested in my photography services.

This year I had my first wedding job, which was incredible to say the least. It was the most joyful moment of my freelance career of this year, and something that I won’t forget in a hurry. It taught me so much about the direction I want to go in with Freelance photography as well as teaching me so much about the way I handle the camera, myself as a business woman and how to interact with customers. It was unconventional as a photography job goes, as I was also bridesmaid! This meant I had to overcome logistical difficulties, but with a little help from Jack, and some forward thinking, we managed to overcome everything that we needed to. 

One of the most important things I think I have learnt, especially in the latter part of the year, is how lonely working for yourself can be, especially if you do all of your work in house. The times that I have been at crafts fairs highlights how having people surrounding and supporting you is so integral to a working environment. Where possible I always tried to have someone with me at these events, it gives me someone to talk to, and makes bagging products, writing receipts and giving change that little bit quicker and easier.

It’s why this year I started attending networking events whenever I could. Some were more formal than others, but each meeting I went to filled me with hope and reassurance that I am doing the right thing. The Coffee and Connect meeting I attended a few months back introduced me to so many new people from surrounding businesses and I could have just spent hours talking to and enjoying the company of so many people.

It was really important for me to go to these meetings, mainly for my own mental health. Working and living in the same place is so difficult because It doesn’t give you a sense of separation to your work. When you work in a office or on a site away from your home, you can finish work, come home and relax, not worry about work until the next day. But when working at home you don’t have that feeling. Currently I’m using the dining room table as a desk, but this is also where I eat, where people come and sit to socialise and most importantly, where I go to relax. When that place is also your office, whenever I sit around this table, all I can think about is what work I have to complete; sometimes I can be sat here until 10PM working away until I’m exhausted and fall into bed. Similarly, I can wake up in the morning and struggle to switch into work mode, because I’m still at home.

 

This year has made me realise how important having a support network around you is. I both have support from my family and friends, peers from university, and a network of online groups that I can refer to when i’m stuck on a particular area or needing advice. Without these channels of support, I think I would have given up along time ago.

NEXT YEAR

Next year seems a long time away, but It’s only tomorrow! WHAT! I’m so worried about what it’s going to bring for me, but I know that if I put the hard work in, it’s going to pay off. So it’s a year of hard work form me.

Myself and Jack are looking to buy a house this year, so I will FINALLY have an office space where I can permanently work from which will be amazing.

My motivational levels are so high at the minute that I’m rolling with it and working every moment I can. I can’t wait to see what is going to come this year!

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