You need to believe it is possible to succeed, and then be able to convince others that you can too. Freelancing is not for everyone, but it is not impossible. It requires a particular configuration of skills, and being good at making images is only one small part. In addition you need to have good skills in logistics, marketing, business, and dealing with people, all at the same time.
Marketing is indeed a challenging part of freelancing. Keeping a business going is a never-ending effort. Doing a little here and a little there won't cut it. You need to research the clients you want to target and then go after them with a plan. I spend a great deal of time developing clients and making sure I keep them through marketing.
My current efforts target designers who can give me corporate work. I tailor my presentation according to their needs. I find out their needs by researching them on the web or through professional publications. Getting and keeping clients can take as much of your time as taking pictures and doing assignments, but it is a part of the equation that you cannot ignore. Work will only come your way if you make it happen. It is my experience that making personal contact is useful if you can do a good job of selling yourself one on one. This is how I've built a business that is both regional, national and international in scope.
If you are looking for editorial clients, it is easy to figure out who to target because the names of those who can hire you are right in the masthead of every publication.
Many of us don't start out with much confidence, but we need to project it nonetheless. Of course, I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I made sure to learn from them and spent a lot of time honing my business skills as well as my photography skills.
Figure out where you want to go, then take the first step toward that goal. Then take the next, and the next one after that. Repeat until you're on your way.
Seth definitely needs to be on your list of artists you follow, starting with his website! His workshop schedule is one of the most diverse in the industry and lists his D-65 (Lightroom Workflow) schedule, Creative Workshops Schedule and speaking engagements. And if you're looking for a destination workshop unlike any other - just click on the banner below and check out programs Seth does together with another SCU Faculty member, John Paul Caponigro. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter too!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.