Rachel is a Boston University senior with a thriving photography business. She sat down with us to talk about all things freelancing, networking as a young business owner, and finding your brand.
Harper: What made you want to start a freelancing business?
Rachel: When I was in high school, photography became my favorite hobby. Curious about the world, I eventually decided to turn my passion into a business to fund my desire to travel. My parents were not going to pay for 15-year-old me to purchase plane tickets and the like, but they were supportive of the idea. My first photography job was a children's birthday party. It's wild looking back at those photos now and seeing how much I’ve grown. I couldn’t be more grateful for the path I took that brought me to where I am today. I’m a true believer that we should follow our creative passions with wild devotion– there’s no need to ask anyone for permission to create.
Harper: I see you have the cutest and most-detailed logo–How did you brand yourself?
Rachel: Having your own brand is definitely a process that takes time. Mine is constantly changing and evolving because I personally am constantly changing and evolving. My brand ebbs and flows based on the skills I gain and what I’m drawn to. My original logo was simply my name with a little pink heart in the center that I made on Photoshop. Eventually, about two and a half years ago, I hired a graphic designer who I worked with to bring to life the soul of my business: happy, travel-inspired, artwork. Developing a cohesive style for my actual photography is also a fun adventure. I want people to be able to pick my work out of a crowd, so it’s about working with consistent color palettes and emotions across my projects.
Harper: How did accumulate your clientele?
Rachel: When I first started my business, I relied solely on word-of-mouth and my immediate community. My freshman year of college I began focusing on social media marketing and created an Instagram. The key is knowing your audience, and posting consistently great content. All that said, I still believe the strongest connections you can make are in person. A mentor once said to me, “drink a lot of coffee with a lot of people.” I’ve taken that advice to heart.
Harper: What is something you've learned about being a young woman starting a business?
Rachel: One of my biggest struggles has always been knowing how to price myself. Something I’ve learned is that, when running a business, you are the only person who can put a price tag on your value because no one is going to do that for you. It takes time to understand how much your work is worth, and to not undervalue your skillset. Over time, when you get to be good at something, it may start to feel easy, and you may question why someone is paying you for a skill that comes so naturally. However, you have to remember it’s because you put in the work and educated yourself. It didn’t come naturally from the start. We each have a unique skill set in life, and what you can do in 30 minutes might take someone else three hours.
Harper: In five years, where do you hope your photography business will go?
Rachel: Following graduation in May, I am planning to move to New York City and continue growing both the commercial and wedding/lifestyle photography sides of my business. As an Advertising major at BU, I truly enjoy not only taking photos, but building and promoting brands. My hope is that in five years, my business can grow to be more than just photography.
Harper: And as a college student who is balancing work, her business, and school, how do you make sure your networking is continuing growing?
Rachel: It’s about being open to people, open to conversation and not letting any opportunities pass you up. At this age, it's not expected that everyone's going to be already off doing something professionally, but eventually, all of my peers will be kicking butt in the real world. I make my best effort to get to know people in my classes and across campus because everybody is going to go off into various industries, and I believe we can all help each other.
Harper: It’s a big shoot day-what do you wear?
Rachel: Oh, what do I wear? I always wear black jumpsuits and I have a growing collection because they're comfortable. I can squat, bend, and move around easily. The one problem: many of the options out there are missing pockets!
Thanks for chatting with us, Rachel!