033 · Become a photo editor

Many people need to edit one or more photos for various reasons, whether private or professional, but are often unable to do it themselves. So, if you know Photoshop, why not offer your services online? And even if, let’s face it, there are already a lot of people out there, there is still room for talented and courageous artists.

Do you know how to use Photoshop or any other photo editing software? I’m not talking about just knowing the basics, no, but mastering most of the tools and techniques they offer. If this is the case, you should know that you can earn money, sometimes even quite a lot, by offering your services through different means that we will look at together.

If you are interested, but know little or nothing about this type of software, the first thing to do is to train yourself quickly and intensively. And the best way to do this is to practice as much as possible, to follow tutorials (which are very numerous and free on YouTube), to work hard and methodically, etc. If you are hard-working and have real motivation, it can be learned in just a few weeks. And if you need a more structured training or you want to get a degree or certification, you should know that there is certainly a training not too far from where you live (a little Google search will help you to know it quickly) or even on the Web.

What types of editing can you offer?

The different types of manipulations that you will have to do are numerous and varied. You will even see that each client will come with his own requirements, sometimes even with requests that are a bit crazy or even rather complex to realize. But overall, here is a list of the jobs you will be asked to do in most cases:

  • LinkedIn/Facebook profile photo touch-up, skin retouching, rejuvenation, wrinkle removal, body slimming, whitening teeth, etc.
  • Restoration of old B/W or sepia photographs
  • Integration of texts
  • Removal or addition of people in the image
  • Conversion of color photos to black and white or selective desaturation
  • Optimization of product photos for stores and online sales platforms (Etsy, Amazon, eBay…)
  • Clipping of elements, removal/change of background, creation of PNG with transparency zones
  • Editing of vacation and travel photos
  • Creation of animated GIFs
  • Addition of special effects
  • Various compositions
  • Etc.

Here are some examples of photo retouching that I have done for some of my clients.

  • example of a retouched photo Photo editing of a machine
  • example of a retouched photo Removing a shadow (photo ©EricDanhier)
  • example of a retouched photo Retouching of a very old photo

How to start this business and find clients?

The first thing to do is to gather the best of what you have already done. Choose a dozen or fifteen images that are representative of your talent and cover different types of retouching among those listed above. Once this is done, you will have to show these images to your future clients. To do this, you have several means at your disposal:

  • Create a blog or a website: a very good way to show your best work while keeping total control of the design and layout of the website/blog. If you’re not sure how to do it, you can start by reading this article.
  • Create a Facebook page, an Instagram, and Pinterest account: very practical too, so that your customers can follow you, see your new creations, and thus keep in touch.
  • Create a YouTube channel where you can show for example the process of creation, trying however not to reveal too much of your secrets, of course. The goal here is to show a spectacular result in order to impress the audience (it’s time to be smug (but not too much though)).

You can use all of them in parallel with each other. It’s even recommended because the more you use these tools, but also the more you update your content, the better your ranking on Google will be.

Another way to find clients quickly when you are starting out, and that you can start even before creating a website/blog or creating your social networks, is to use a freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr, Freelancer, UpWork, etc. There are multiple advantages to using them. First because there are millions of customers who use them every day, and then because the payment system is already integrated, and so you don’t have to worry about (almost) anything, and then also because it’s very easy and quick to set up.

Of course, the competition is sometimes very strong, and you will have to find ways to stand out from the others, by proposing unique and high-quality services, by publishing images and videos that are both representative and striking, by optimizing the presentation texts (of yourself and your services), by proposing very interesting prices (that you will increase as your reputation grows on the platform), etc.

Finally, you can also use targeted advertising campaigns on Google Ads, social networks, or others. This will cost you some money, but well done campaigns can be very effective.

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Find a partnership?

The best solution is obviously to work with one or more regular clients, for example a real estate agency, a car dealership, an online store, etc. There are plenty of jobs where people take photos that need editing to make them more presentable and eye-catching.

Instagram and Tik-Tok influencers are also targets to focus on since they regularly publish content (photos but also videos) whose quality must be constantly optimized and enhanced. Many of them are just starting their activity and potentially need quality services such as those you offer.

And to find this partnership, the best way is still to identify those who would be most likely to need your services and to contact them directly, with a nice offer “under the arm” that they can’t refuse. Don’t hesitate to use images from their site/account and show them the difference once they’ve passed through your expert hands, and create animated GIFs displaying the before and after image for an even more impactful effect.

Finding a good partnership won’t be easy, I don’t hide that fact, but it’s definitely worth a try. This way you won’t have to worry about finding new clients or how you’ll pay your bills at the end of the month. It’s a bit of a holy grail for any freelancer who wants to achieve total financial independence.

Which software to use?

I mentioned Adobe Photoshop because it is not only the most famous image editing software but also probably the most complete and powerful. Moreover, the subscription costs only $12.99/month (including Lightroom), which I think is a very affordable price.

Moreover, there is a lot of free content available on the Internet. Whether it’s tutorials that allow you to learn how to perform specific manipulations that you lack practice for, find scripts, shapes, brushes, and other elements that allow you to multiply your creativity. Photoshop is undoubtedly the champion in this respect too.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other very good tools. I’m thinking of CorelDraw, Gimp, Affinity, PixlR, Krita, Photopea, etc. I won’t be able to tell you more here because I haven’t used any of them (or very few), but you can go here to see what other users think.

Conclusion

Working as a photo retoucher/editor really offers a lot of advantages. First of all, it’s a rewarding artistic profession, which offers the possibility to work at home or while traveling, as well as a very decent salary, even excellent if you have talent and work with good clients.

However, the competition can be tough, and you’ll have to fight for your place in the spotlight, especially when you’re just starting out. But if you work hard, take care of your web presence and social networks, and manage to find your first clients quickly, especially via platforms such as Fiverr, UpWork, etc., it should go well. The ultimate goal is to find one or more “big” loyal customers who will ensure you a regular income.

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

  • If you don’t have a computer, buy a laptop instead of a more energy-consuming desktop model. And there is no point in buying the top of the range, which also consumes more energy. A mid-range model (e.g. 15″ screen, i5 CPU, 8Gb of RAM…) should be more than enough in most cases.
  • For more comfort, you will probably want to get a second, bigger, and more qualitative screen. Again, be aware that some models consume more power than others, and it’s not just a question of screen size.
  • If you decide to subscribe to a cloud storage service, choose one that is powered by renewable energy.

Pros

  • A rewarding artistic profession
  • You work from home or while traveling
  • Good pay if you have talent and have found good clients

Cons

  • Competition is strong
  • Starting income can be minimal
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

Please also note that there are currently NO affiliate links on Sweekr! This means that NO commission is charged when you make a purchase from any of the sites recommended here. Some links are optimized for performance testing only, and each recommendation reflects the opinions or evaluations of the writer of this article. And be sure you'll be notified if (and when) this situation ever changes.

This article could be completed or improved with your help. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question, a relevant remark, a feedback, additional information or spotted any error.Go to comments

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