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A few weeks ago I wrote 15 Tips About Turning Pro. I thought it would be a good time to expand on some of those tips. Today’s article is the fifth and final in that series (although I may revisit it again soon and add part six and maybe seven…). I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you missed the previous four articles in the series, you can read them here: Portfolio and Persistence, People Skills and Generosity, Passion and Vision and Style Development and Life Long Learning.
Leaving the security of a regular job to become a freelancer is stressful, so make sure that you surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Negative people will suck the energy out of you, killing the joy and excitement of starting a brave, new venture. Maybe they are jealous or maybe they’ve had a bad experience, but, either way, you are better off ignoring their negativity. Listen to those who know what they are talking about, folks who can speak from experience – learn from them and avoid their mistakes. Going pro is risky business and few pro photographers are able to make decent living from their craft. But if you don’t try it, you will never know if you can make it! Prepare yourself financially, have a back up plan and diversify your work as much as possible – shooting, teaching, assisting. The more your income streams are connected to photography, the better chance you have at steady income plus you’ll expand your network and skills – and be happier!
Chances are you will work out of your home. Sounds great? It is, but it also requires discipline. After years of working from home, I’ve learned to adjust a few things in order to be more efficient and productive. On client-free days, I will write, edit pictures or research online, so I could easily stay in my pajamas all day. Well, I’m not sick, and I wouldn’t be in my PJs all day if I worked in an office. I feel more business-like, more professional when I dress the part, even if it’s casual. Besides, I never know who might call me on Skype or invite me to a Google hang out or a last-minute in person meeting.
Function as you would in a “real” office. Create a schedule for yourself. Avoid doing household chores when you should be invoicing clients. Hey, the laundry can wait! If you have a family, keeping work and family time separate whenever possible will help you keep a better balance. It is so easy to always be at work when your office is at home. Create phone/iPad-free zones in the house such as the family room or the kitchen. Your job is important, but not as important as your family’s well being, so the trick is to balance it all. You need them and their support to be successful. Remember that while they are thrilled that you are making your dream come true, they have their own interests and activities to share with you, too. If you live and breathe in pixels like me, you and your camera are probably joined at the hip. It has become an extension of you. It’s your best friend. It makes you happy! Sounds familiar? But it’s important to have some balance between the professional and the personal, so I do leave my camera behind for a few hours, and focus on my family and friends. These are the people I love without seeing life through my lens. Remember – savor the moment! Some memories can just be kept in your heart instead of on a digital file to be saved and cherished.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with the dPS readers. Merci beaucoup!
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