Author Bio: Gavin Alexander knows freelance photography from both sides of the bookkeeping coin. He is a freelance videographer and photographer, as well as being Video Content Exec at Crunch Accounting. You can follow them on Twitter: @TeamCrunch.

Tempted to pack your job in and take the plunge into freelancing? I don’t blame you—freelancing can be the best way to work in the world, giving you the freedom and flexibility to pick your own work and hours while doing what you love.

But freelancing is an uncertain lifestyle and requires endless hard work and perseverance. Make sure you’ve got the commitment to make it work for you, and that you aren’t just tempted to make the shift because you hate your boss, or because you lack motivation.

Aston Martin 2013 Vanquish Car Photography by Tim Wallace on

1. Setting the wheels in motion

If you don’t want to cut your ties completely with your employer, but are fed up of juggling your full time job with your photography, you have a couple of other options.

Firstly, you can request flexible working hours from your employer. All employees have the legal right to request it (in the UK at least)—however your employer is still well within their rights to deny that request if they have a legitimate reason.

Secondly, you could look at going part-time. Some employers might be open to the idea of job shares or reduced hours—it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask, and you may operate better with some guaranteed money coming in on the side.

Special Guest by Daniel Sousa Malandra on

2. How to build a client base

To be a successful freelance photographer you’ll have to spend a lot of time looking for work. It’s definitely worth getting yourself signed up to sites like, and while frequenting the usual Gumtrees and Indeeds of the world.

There are lots of recruitment agencies that may be able to help you out too. Spend an hour or so calling around the ones in your area to see if anyone might have some work coming up—it’s not just catering and office work they can sort you out with!

Prepare a business card and an ‘elevator pitch’ for when you happen to end up chatting to a potential client, at a networking event or just by chance. A decent pitch doesn’t just say what you do, it says why you’re useful to your clients; for example “I’m a photographer, so I help businesses appear professional and eye-catching so they can attract more customers”.

As well as looking for work, you’ll need to do your best to make sure clients can find you. Get your portfolio on your website and include testimonials to increase your reputability. Make sure you have an Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profile each linking to your page to ensure people can see your work and come to you with their projects.

Save Your Change :) by Ryan Palmer on

3. All about the money

Have you decided how much are you going to charge? What is the going rate for others with your skill set? It’s easy to find out. Try checking a few of your competitor’s websites. Do they display their rates? If not, give them a call and pretend to be an interested customer! You don’t need to put on a phony accent (although if this helps, by all means go for it!).

It often pays to ask a client what their budget is before you discuss rates. Once you know what they can spend, you can decide whether it’s enough.

If you’re struggling with the startup capital you require to make a serious go of it, Start Up Loans is a government-funded scheme that funds and mentors entrepreneurs. If your plan is approved, you’ll get—as they put it on their website—“a low-cost unsecured loan, business mentoring and a range of business support products”. The downside: it’s a loan, so naturally you must pay it back within 5 years, with interest.

fishing on a lake before sunset by alex grichenko on

4. Do non-photography things

According to a recent study by the RSA, most freelancers are happier than employees, overall. But as much as your work and life may blend into one, it’s important for you to retain some separation between the two.

For the sake of the quality of your work (and your own sanity), create boundaries so both aspects of your life have time to breathe. Plan holidays in advance, otherwise you may never take them.

Remember to exercise—it resets the body’s stress clock. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine, but free and accessible!

How was the bookkeeper? by Erwin Bergkamp on

5. Sage advice

Entrepreneurial icon James Caan said “The biggest rookie error I’ve seen start ups make is the reluctance to track transactions in the first flush of business. Failing to keep a record of this will double your workload because you’ll have to remember the date of every receipt, invoice and cheque, and what they were for.”

For many freelancers, bookkeeping is seen as a tiresome chore rather than a key function in running a small business and, as a result, the process of filing and managing business accounts are often brushed aside, seriously affecting the business later on.

Failure to sort out your paperwork in a timely fashion could result in you paying more tax than necessary or even worse, being penalized for tardiness by the taxman.

Love Photography by Luis Valadares on

For all the difficulties though, the rewards can be great. If you read all of the above and thought “yeah… and?”, then get shooting now—you’re going to make a great freelance pro!