In 2011, I was preparing for a year of traveling around the world and taking a sabbatical from the demands of my wedding photo business for a while. Since I had to stop taking wedding clients 12 months in advance of traveling, I also had to create a plan to help me live a more freedom-based lifestyle while still being a photographer with professional recurring bills to take care of.
At first I was terrified to give up my security blanket of wedding clients who always planned well in advance, rarely ever cancelled their shoot, and were a very predictable source of income, however, after I'd paid off enough debt and saved up enough money, I had a little more courage to take some leaps of faith and try a more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style of booking and serving clients. What I ended up finding was how much I really enjoyed short-assignment and easy-for-me work that I could pick up on the fly and turn-around in less than a week.
Disclaimer: if a lack of security or routine throws you into a stress ball of unhappiness, this may not be the road for you to travel, but it can be a chance to pick up some side jobs in your free time. However, if you're zen like a surfer riding a tsunami, than the freelance lifestyle will actually serve you far better than a more predictable routine-and-commitment based type of work.
Bonus Tip: if you're overworked, these can also be great resources to find your ideal virtual assistant, retoucher, white-balancer, graphic designer, web coder, video editor, and more!
freelancing article on FreshBooks shares some of the pros and cons of these similar systems.
Because I tend to stay busy on referrals alone, I've only tried two of the services above, the rest are things I found when I was looking for extra assignments to take on, so I'd love to hear about your experiences. I used Craigslist while I was building my business from the ground up almost 10 years ago, but haven't used it for photo assignments since then. I signed up for Thumbtack recently after moving to NYC, and there are many requests that come in too low or too far away for me to serve them professionally, however, there are a few gems in the rough and on a rare occasion I do actually respond to a request if it looks like it will fit my working style and schedule.
Are there other services or sites that you've tried and had success with? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.
Anne Ruthmann is an lifestyle & event photographer in New York City. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and smarter solutions to small business problems. Stay in touch on Twitter or Facebook.