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  • Is self-employment a go?

    Hi everyone, I'm new to this site and also I'm a "new" retoucher. I just wanted to say "Hi" to you all and hopefully get some thoughts from you concerning becoming self-employed as a retoucher.

    I've been using Photoshop just for my own images for a couple of years and have developed some pretty good retouching skills that I think are now at the stage where I could charge for retouching work. I wouldn't call myself "high-end" but nor am I "bargain bucket basic". I'm especially strong in terms of my skin smoothing, blemish removal and colour correction.

    I've been unemployed for a few months and was thinking that retouching on a self-employed basis could be a great new way to earn my living - after all I already have all of the kit I need and I've no mortgage to pay so my overheads are minimal but from some of the comments in the forums talking about being paid a couple of dollars per image I'm wondering if my dream is really possible. Ideally I would like to retouch wedding photos for clients directly or on behalf of a professional wedding photographer but I'm open to other possible markets anyone could suggest.

    I was shocked to read of USD2 an hour in one post - it's exploitative and really devalues the skill involved in retouching images well. I am proud of having attention to detail and dedicating the time to each image to make it look great. I was thinking of charging in the range of GBP20-25 per hour (USD30 - 38) or perhaps GBP8 - 25 per image (USD12 - 38) depending on the level of retouch needed. I know that starting out it will take time to gain clients and I am prepared for that. I'm happy to do TFP to develop a portfolio. But I need to feel like it's going to be worth it in the end. Is it reasonable to expect to be able to pull in say 16 hours of work a week on these sort of rates? That would be enough to keep me afloat. I really love retouching but can you guys share your thoughts/experiences of earning a living from it on a self-employed basis. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    Danny

  • #2
    Re: Is self-employment a go?

    Danny-
    I'm fairly sure you won't get any concrete answers to your questions here. There are so many variables in the market- your retouching skills, your marketing skills, your experience/portfolio, your local market's health, your competition- I could go on.
    You say that you are unemployed, have the equipment, feel that you have the skills, and have little overhead. So, what's stopping you? Start talking to local photographers and keep your pricing low- but within reason. Right now you need experience and customers, so don't be concerned with how much you can charge, be concerned about getting and keeping a few clients.

    Best,
    -Steve

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    • #3
      Re: Is self-employment a go?

      Hi - I live in the UK (No I don't have anything to do with BP...) and I'm setting up for myself over here...

      One thing I'd suggest based on my initial experience... concentrate locally where you live. I concentrated on setting up my website thinking that was THE way to go... I've revised that now and concentrate on letting my local community know I exist and what I do.

      Its not easy but... I tend to use web sites as an 'online brochure' rather than an ordering placement service, the one to one contact seems to work better for me...

      Good luck...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Is self-employment a go?

        Hi Steve, you're right, I should just go for it and see how it pans out. I was just feeling really fired up and excited until I read some other posts here that kind of took me by surprise and the steam out of my sail a bit but there's nothing to stop me trying. I should have mentioned I'm also new to reading and posting in forums so my vague questioning is down to that, it's probably how I'd start a conversation with a pro retoucher face to face. On here I see I'll need to be more specific but I thank you for your comment and encouragement to try my luck.

        One question I have in response is, can you share a couple of tips on how, as a newbie, to start building up a client base (or any mistakes to avoid in trying to do so)? It would be really appreciated.

        Lynn, thanks also - I was thinking website as well for my primary hook, getting the clients rolling in, so it's interesting to hear that. I will try and build up a small portfolio using my own work and then approach some local photographers. Thanks for the advice.

        Thanks

        Danny

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Is self-employment a go?

          Hey...

          Client base question is an interesting one... There are only so many hours you have available to 'work' so I suggest you start of working out what income you need - say per month - and then work out the hours you'll commit - get your hourly rate from that and see if its practical...

          When people start off they often tell the world they can do everything... and often get nothing to do!

          My personal position has changed somewhat over time... I've gone from being a photo restorer to a 'photo shopper' - it's given me a simple product to produce regularly and brings in a regular income and - involves some of what I like doing best - which is manipulating images with photoshop...

          I suggest you focus on a very specific market - if you have an interest say in a sport or something maybe see if you can combine the two...

          For example - if you love ice hockey (or just 'hockey' be patient remember I'm a Brit..) why not put together some really high quality team poster templates in photoshop and market them to all the youth teams playing hockey in your area and incorporate say 3 of an individuals photographs into each poster. Every team member and every parent immediately then becomes a potential customer... not bad for a start... you can then take it where you want... changing sports and environments as and when you choose...

          It's not very creative though... but... you can build up that side of your business as a separate entity once you have some money coming in....

          Its only a suggestion - let me know what you think - and - its working for me...

          Take care... John

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Is self-employment a go?

            Hi John, that sounds terrific, thanks. I have my MA in Drama & Performance Studies so I might be able to do something along those lines with university theatre departments, school drama departments and theatre groups in the area, photographing rehearsals and putting together souvenir posters for the cast. As for sports I'm mainly into running and swimming but perhaps there's scope there too with university clubs etc. Thanks again.

            Best wishes


            Danny

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Is self-employment a go?

              Hi Danny....

              That's got you buzzing....

              I think you've just discovered a huge potential market....

              Check this link out - there's loads of stuff out there... but you must personalise things - that's what I've discovered...

              http://www.anythingphotos.com/index....961513b6e0863b

              Take care - now you have to make some things happen! let me know what happens!

              John

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is self-employment a go?

                Hi John

                Totally, thanks a lot - I'll let you know how things go. I've also got some exciting looking business workshops coming up in August to help fire me up even more and then hopefully all systems go in September.

                Those posters on your site are fantastic, I get the idea and will dedicate some time over the next couple of weeks to playing around and coming up with some initial designs for myself.

                Thanks again!

                Best wishes

                Danny

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Is self-employment a go?

                  Hey Danny.... sadly its not my site... this is anther one - even better and it shows you can even sell the poster templates!

                  http://www.templatesunlimited.com/

                  Good luck!

                  John

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Is self-employment a go?

                    Cool, thanks John.

                    Comment

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