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Working From Home for Photographers: Making the Most of It

In this period of unprecedented downtime, more and more people are finding themselves forced to work from home. Photographers, and all creatives, are struggling exceptionally hard so make ends meet. Workshops are being cancelled left and right, and there is minimal support for the self-employed.

So now, more than ever, we need to use this time as best as possible to further our businesses and come out the other end of this in a strong position.

If you’re not used to working from home it can be difficult to adapt so suddenly to a complete lifestyle change like this. Do not fear – we have some excellent ideas for things that you can do to make the most of this spare time now that you are working from home.

1. Develop your portfolio or showreel

For photographers and videographers, this is a good time to sit down and sift through your best work. Come up with a really diverse, solid portfolio that shows exactly what you can do.

For those working in video, take this time to put together a new showreel and have something fresh to show potential employees once you’re back on your feet.

2. Redesign your website and set up an eCommerce store

As photographers we want to spend as much time as possible outside. Editing draws us back to our computers, and for many that is not an enjoyable task. Once the photo edits are over, we’re straight back out there shooting more images.

But that means that our websites are left rarely updated, and many photographers have very simple websites that could do with some TLC.

Take this time to overhaul your website. If you’re not happy with how it is looking, consider changing provider and seeing what else is on the market. If customers are not able to easily purchase prints from your website (for example, do you request that they email you to place an order?), then consider introducing a solid eCommerce system.

This is easily done with providers such as Squarespace and Zenfolio. These solutions offer great content management systems that allow you to develop your site without any coding knowledge. Plus, they have fully-fledged eCommerce systems that allow you to introduce an online shop to your website in a matter of clicks. You can even have your orders be automatically fulfilled by printing labs, taking any manual effort on your part out of the equation.

3. Put together a proper business plan

Have you ever sat down and created a proper business plan for your work as a photographer? Now you’re working from home, why not create an in-depth document showing exactly what you do and where your revenue streams are.

This will allow you to have a proper overview of your business. Pull together facts and figures showing what percentage of your earnings comes from each area of your business, and this will help you to know where you should be focusing your efforts.

Outlining everything properly like this will not only give you a better handle on your business, but it may well show you areas of photography that you haven’t exploited yet.

There are plenty of revenue streams for photographers – just look at those outlined in our eBook Breaking Into Business – and you can use this time to ensure you are on top of all of them.

4. Get on top of your storage

Many of us are guilty of having poorly optimised storage and this can cause problems for all sorts of reasons. Finding the time to sit down and go through your hard drives is difficult – but now is a good time to get this daunting task over and done with.

Firstly, go through and delete any old images that you really don’t need to keep. A lot of us are guilty of not deleting all of those blurred or slightly out of focus shots – I know I have been particularly poor at purging my catalogue of images over the years. Deleting these files will clear up a lot of space for better images, and mean that you’ll be spending less money on extra hard drives.

Secondly, ensure that you have a proper mirrored backup system. I’ve written before about the importance of having a redundancy copy of your files, but it’s worth saying again. Hard drives do fail – I’ve had it happen to me before, and having another copy of those files is a huge relief.

You can create mirrored backups manually by copying the data over to each hard drive, but there are also pieces of software you can use for a more thorough approach. ShotPutPro is an industry standard program that checks and verifies your copies are successful without any corrupted files or problems.

If you’re up for investing some serious money into your storage solutions – which any serious professional photographer should consider – then the G-RAID systems are the way to go. For £550 you will get a G-Technology housing and two 8TB hard drives. This solution shows itself to your computer as one 8TB hard drive, and the G-Technology housing will duplicate the files across the two hard drives automatically and create a mirrored backup.

For more information about creating a solid backup solution, read our dedicated article.

5. Run a print sale

Now more than ever freelancers are in need of generating some income to help them survive the next few months. So, consider running a print sale or similar promotion. Go for volume of sales over a high price point, and offer an attractive deal that your followers can’t pass up!

6. Work on your social media presence

Put together a proper plan of attack for your social media accounts. Instagram in particular is a great asset for photographers, but without having a structured approach it can be hard to break above the noise.

Organise a regular schedule for posting by using services like Later.com, and ensure that you’re using the best hashtags on Instagram to get maximum exposure.

Some creatives are also running online classes to engage their audiences. Consider running live broadcasts on your accounts and offer something of value for other people stuck inside.

What do you think?

Have you got any top tips for what to do during this unprecedented quiet period? How are you finding the current climate as a freelance photographer? Let us know in the comments!

Will Nicholls is the founder of Nature TTL and a professional wildlife photographer and film-maker from England. Having been photographing since the age of 12, Will's images have won a string of awards, including the title of "Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year" in 2009 from the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Will is also the author of the book On the Trail of Red Squirrels.

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