After my last post in February where I shared why and when you should outsource photo editing there were several of you who were interested in how YOU could become an editor for other photographers. Well what I didn’t mention on that post is that I was in the exact same place about four years ago! So today I thought I’d share how I got started and a couple tips to hopefully start you off in the right direction!
Four years ago I was a fairly new photographer, I’d maybe been professionally shooting for about a year, I had developed a friendship with a photographer whom I had done a mentorship program with and she just happened to also be from my home town. It was through our friendship that she confided in me how she wished she could find someone to do her editing. My business was maybe barely part time, my husband was deployed so I just casually suggested that I do it for her! I was kind of shocked the words actually came out of my mouth but she said yes!!
Since then I have worked with 7 other professional photographers and a small handful of hobbyists. Half of the professionals came to be because I put myself out there. Each of them voiced the desire/need somewhere on their social media platforms, and I noticed. But I didn’t stop there, I reached out to them and gave them a stellar pitch that got them to hit reply. They weren’t like my very first job, they had never heard of me, but I just went for it. Today my business is ran as a by invitation only setup, as I’m a one woman show I can only take on so many clients. Before we go any further, I am not seeking any new editing clients! Just had to put that out there :) I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t think the way things evolved for me is the common place, but what it does show is that you can’t be afraid of someone saying no. Had I feared that reply I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So that story is all fine and dandy but how does that help you?! Here are 5 tips to help you get ready to start taking on jobs:
- No.01Know Lightroom
You need to understand it’s functionality, if you’ve never used it beyond clicking on a preset you’ve purchased then you need to step away and start exploring without those. Photographers aren’t looking for an editor that they will need to teach from the ground up, no way! They need someone to give them more time and need to be able to train you as quickly as possible so they can get back to their clients. Lightroom is the editing program most all professional are using.
- No.02Develop a system
You want to approach your first potential client with as much knowledge as you can, you want to reassure them that you know what you’re doing and that goes beyond knowing how to edit a photo. They want to see you as a professional. So you need to develop your system/routine for client interactions. How will they send their files, what is the expected turnaround time, and how will they pay for your services? These are just a few of the big questions you need to have answers for.
I want each and every person I work with to know me, I want them to trust me and I think email can only go so far. So I recommend after that initial email, once they’ve said ‘keep talking’ the next step is to schedule a Skype call to answer any questions and for you to explain the process in person. This is totally a personal opinion but I think this one is key!! You will be able to make sure the two of you are a fit and you will give them one more reason to trust you. I come prepared with this call and I have a list of questions about their business and editing along with a recap of how I work things from my side of the interaction.
- No.04Make sure you can edit their style
This kind of goes without saying, but can you get the job done for them? I’m sure the people you reach out to have a style you’ve seen and so you should have a pretty good idea if it’s a style you’re comfortable editing in, but maybe once you’ve been editing for a while you start to receive inquires from people you’ve never seen. Please make sure you look at their work and feel you can do the job. I personally have chosen to stick with clients who edit in a style that is much like mine, or within reason just because that’s how my eye generally likes things. I have chosen not to take on clients that are totally opposite of that style, it just isn’t a good fit for me.
- No.05It's their work so be open to criticism
You’re #1 goal should be to get so good at editing just like them that THEY don’t even notice a difference. Getting to that point happens when you’ve worked with them for a while AND received feedback. Be open to constructive criticism. I always tell my clients, especially after the first session I edit, that I expect feedback. The only way to get better is to know when you’re doing something incorrect. I welcome the notes from them because it only makes me better at the next job. Being open to this is HUGE! Your clients will feel relieved that they are working with someone they can communicate with, and will feel even more convinced that you are going to make your best effort to take care of them.
So there you have it. If you take these 5 tips and apply them to your editing business you will be off to a great start! I’ve enjoyed this job for the past several years, and while yes the busy season is completely crazy I still love it :) One word of caution, make sure that you really do enjoy editing because there is definitely times in the year that it takes that love to keep you going. And once you choose to take on clients you are in business, so you need to handle the job like a professional, their business depends on it….