Five Top Tips To Break Into The Freelance World

Breaking into the freelance industry can be a daunting prospect, so we sat down with award-winning photographer James Bridle to get the inside track on making it big on your own terms.

One man, who is making a name for himself within photography is James Bridle, an award-winning snapper, who has more than 10 years in the business.

Here, he gives his top five tips for any would-be freelancer to make a success out of their passion. 


Start Small And Have A Presence

Making the first step on your journey is always the most important one, and with the benefits of technology, it is now easier than ever. 

James begins: “The spectrum of how a photographer can make themselves popular is broad. 

Behind The Lens: James Bridle

“It can start with just taking photos on your phone, because cameras on phones are now so good. 

“Most of your popularity as a photographer will come from your social presence. Having that is definitely advantageous. You can make your entire career on a phone.

“Gear is not an issue, it is not a factor as such. I would say the knowledge that you build in different areas is more important.” 


Understand The Client

When you start any freelance job, knowing who you are dealing with and what they want from you is vital, something James has learned over the last decade – and this applies not to just freelancers, but creating a career in general. 

He continues: “It’s important to understand your client and know the brief. 

“You need to have the right mentality for people to work with you. You might be a great photographer, but if you are difficult to work with then it becomes a bit of a client nightmare. 

“Being good to work with as part of a team is not something you can necessarily teach but I would say that you can definitely work on those types of skills.”


Be Versatile

With so much competition for jobs, being able to perform a multitude of different skills for your client is a huge bonus for both them and yourself, something James has seen within his profession. 

“For photographers, it’s now almost a given that they should be able to do video shoots as well. Some of these people are gaining popularity by doing TikTok and Instagram Reels. 

“Don’t limit yourself. I have a speciality in photography, but the need for video keeps coming up. Many respect that I am primarily a photographer, but it is very difficult to track all of that work and juggle both needs. 

“I would always rather be versatile and develop my range in a broader spectrum. As your general skill increases, you are able to work in many different areas.”


Under-Promise and Over Deliver

With more and more stress being put on one person to deliver many different objectives with different skills in play, it is important for whatever you do in the freelance industry to remain disciplined and focused on your top skill-set.

This seems to go against the need to be versatile, but James understands that knowing different skills and performing them to a high level at the same time are two very separate things. 

On Fire: James Bridle’s image of Post Malone at Reading Festival won him a British Photography Award in 2020

He explains: “Don’t over-subscribe yourself because that’s when you end up disappointing clients. 

“You’ve said that you can do it all and that’s not a problem, and then you get there and it’s super difficult to do it to the standard that the client wants.”

Set The Bar High

“Have high standards,” James continues. “From both the way you work and the product that you put out.

“If something could be better with just a small change, do it. 

“If it’s something to go just that extra mile, that’s worth having, then do it. Because ultimately, the client will appreciate it, you’ll be glad you did it with the final product that you put out.  It builds the value of your product. 

“It’s also important not to rush yourself and reduce your quality. It’s easy to get sucked into what a client wants and not keep focused on what you are trying to do. Taking someone with you or having another pair of eyes can be really beneficial.”


Take The Leap

With all of these tips in mind, it is clear that having a plan, a varied skill-set and being the master of your time are the keys to success in the freelance industry.

But this advice from James can be put into any career, no matter what you’re looking to achieve in the world. 

For him, photography was always his passion – something you can read about in an interview he did with Youth Time Magazine last month – and by following his dreams, he has made a successful career from his work.

Whatever the spark is for you, make sure you follow it. You never know where it could take you. 

You can check out James’ photography now or find him on Instagram.

Photos: James Bridle Photography

Read more about James’ career in an interview he did with Youth Time last month.

Freelancing In Covid-19: An Interview With James Bridle

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