Six organisational hacks for freelance photographers

The life of a freelancer can be a challenge when your profession is creative work. It takes time to create your best work, and you need to be your own sales, marketing, and accounting department as well. 

Wearing all those business hats can get hectic. For freelance photographers, there are even more hats to wear: archivist, printer, and equipment manager. 

How do you make time for the most important hat as a professional photographer?

In this article, we’ll touch on six ways that freelance photographers can organize themselves better, so you can spend more time looking through a viewfinder – and less time on unnecessary business admin.

1) Create portfolios for conventions and client events

There’s plenty of ways to share your work online at websites like WordPress, Instagram, and Pinterest.

That’s all good, but what if you need a physical showcase to take to events? 

Mobile phones and tablets can be too small to appreciate finer details or wide-angle shots in online portfolios. It’s better to put together portfolios with physical prints.

It takes time just to select the right photos to put into a photography portfolio, and different events might call for different collections. 

It’ll save you time and help you prepare if you create a set of prints that cover the common genres and subjects you’ll want to take to conventions or show to clients.

2) Use message templates and forms

If you find yourself spending too much time crafting the perfect emails, social media posts, and letters to clients and leads, you can cut that time down by writing a set of standard forms and letters ahead of time. 

You don’t have to duplicate them exactly for every client, but it’ll save you hours of time spent drafting the same messages every day.

There are productivity tools designed to help you organize and synchronize your social media posting, too. 

Planoly, Hootsuite, and Tailwind are services that freelancers can use to make social media marketing less time-consuming. 

If you spend less time on social media, your productivity will improve. Google Forms and MachForms can be great for creating quick reusable forms for clients to fill out.

3) Organize and maintain your cameras and gear

Photography gear multiplies quickly as you add a lens and other equipment to your repertoire.

Physically organizing and maintaining all that gear can turn into a major chore. Worse, you can fall behind on the cleaning and maintenance, lose a key piece of equipment, or discover that it isn’t ready to use when the time comes. 

You can avoid those problems by scheduling time to put them in order every day, depending on how often you use your gear.

One good idea to put into practice is to create a physical space to keep your cameras, lens, and other gear. You can build an affordable wire rack and buy bins or shelving to put each item in its own place. 

Once you have a storage system worked out, make it a habit to organize everything as needed. You won’t find yourself late for a photoshoot because of a missing lens ever again.

4) Pick a cloud backup service and use it

There’s nothing worse than losing a large archive of valuable photographs because they were stored on a single computer when its hard disk died. 

You can set up free or low-cost backup storage services that will automatically upload your files when you put them in a sync folder.

Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are three big names in the backup and file syncing space today, but there are others to try as well. 

Most of these services give you a substantial chunk of storage space for free, and you canbuy more as your archive grows at a reasonable price. 

It’ll be worth being free of the worry of losing your life’s work to some other unforeseen disaster like spilling coffee on your laptop.

5) You can do more than email and photo sharing in the cloud

Cloud computing has given freelancers more freedom to work from anywhere in the world wherever they have an internet connection. 

Most consumers are aware of productivity and sharing apps like social media and file syncing services. 

Freelancers have tools at their disposal that take those apps a step further to help them manage their business and client communications on the road.

Freelance photographers often travel to their shots, so unshackling yourself from the desktop computer can be empowering.

Cloud computing makes doing business easier and more streamlined. 

It means more than staying in touch with clients while you’re on the go. You can store and share your photographs online using mobile apps and deliver finished shots without going home. 

Scheduling appointments, managing websites and blogs, and researching past photographs in your archives can all be done in the cloud.

6) Take time to purge your archives

Housekeeping online archives can turn into a major chore because it’s easy to let them grow to thousands of photographs. 

Every photographer knows the ratio of throwaway shots to those worth keeping is high, but we tend to hold onto most shots in every photo shoot to avoid discarding that one photo that will be useful later.

It’s a good idea to create a process for purging old photos, though. It’ll make it easier to find the right photo when it isn’t buried in nested folders full of mediocre throwaways. 

You might save a little money, too, by keeping your storage needs low and avoiding the cost of renting extra storage capacity.

Are you using technology to help your photography career?

The wonderful thing about modern technology is how much itenables freelancers to make their living and compete effectively against larger businesses in the same field. 

Cloud services have made professional productivity tools available that were too expensive for individuals to afford when they were starting out. 

We’ve also learned through experience the best low-tech solutions that save time and avoid consternation when it comes to organizing our photos and equipment.

Ashley Wilson is working remotely as a content creator, writing mostly about business and tech. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

Photo by Andre Furtado