Freelancing Females: Brittney Johnson
Age: 22 Location: Texas
Anything you’d like to share about yourself?
I'm a military brat who got lucky enough to consider Texas home. I like to call myself a true Disney enthusiast and avid coffee drinker. I love people and being able to capture their story with the art of photography. As cliche as it sounds, all things crafty and media have been a passion of mine since I was a tiny tot. I've fallen in love with many art forms from theater to dance, to videography. This past year, it has definitely been a creative outlet for me and
growing my photography.
Tell us a bit about your business:
I am the owner and head photographer of JFSM Productions. I offer photography and videography services in the Abilene and San Antonio, Texas areas (but definitely willing to travel). My mission is to provide professional photography that captures the small moments of life and values what makes people beautiful. My focus is on story-telling and the relationships formed - You're not a client, you're a friend I haven't yet gotten to know!
How did you decide to start freelancing?
While the idea and concept of freelancing came while I was a senior in high school, I didn't start until college. I went pursuing a degree in Multimedia after having served on my home church media ministry for several years. With courses I was taking, I craved for more work creatively, so I began to freelance.
Do you freelance full time or is at side gig?
At the moment I freelance as a side gig. I am currently getting my Masters in Corporate Communications.
What are some struggles you face being a freelancer? What has been your greatest struggle?
Some struggles I faced when I started my business was structure and a deeper meaning. I knew I wanted to purse photography and work with people, but I didn't know where I should start or what I could do to have a business with a meaning and bigger purpose than take photos. I read so many blogs and articles about workflows, contracts/forms, things I would need, etc. I didn't know where to start. The greatest struggle, and still is, defining my brand - who am I as a photographer? what do I stand for? what can I offer the world? In a world where it seems like everyone is starting a business/freelancing, I struggle with the idea of how can I set myself apart.
What is your favorite thing about freelancing? Whats your most memorable accomplishment?
My favorite thing about freelancing is being my own boss. I make the rules and create the type of work environment I truly want, with the people that matter most. One of the most memorable accomplishments so far has been every client who has come to me with new ideas and we formulate a session together for an awesome outcome! The wife of one of my bosses approached me about taking pictures of their one year old for his birthday, she knew I had no experience shooting children, but was equally excited and was patient with me during the shoot. She was so understanding and loved the photos of their son- so much she made a huge print order!
When talking to other freelancers they find setting their prices very challenging, how did you determine your prices?
I have definitely fallen in the boat of struggling with pricing. I looked at some of my competitors along with photographers I looked up too. I analyzed their style, what they specialize in and of course their pricing. I then decided I would price myself in the starting middle of those around me. The biggest part in freelancing is believing in yourself and how much you decide to charge. I still struggle with self-doubt, but if anything within this year, I have learned to stand by my decisions and know I'm worth what I'm charging.
Do you work from home? Do you like it or do you find yourself getting easily distracted? What are some tips you have about working from home?
I typically work from home or whatever coffeeshop pops into my mind. I love it, everyday I work, can be a new adventure! I definitely get easily distracted by friends and personal use of social media! Some tips while working from home... 1- have snacks! 2- Write down of make a sticky of what it is you need to accomplish for the time being 3- be comfortable! Whether its like me, sweats and fluffy socks, or in jeans and a t-shirt, you can't work if you aren't comfortable where you are. Lastly 4 - invest in a good music playlist! I use Spotify and have an array of stations and playlists I listen to while I work. A recent favorite is the Autumn Acoustics. Music stimulates the brain, so its important that you pick something that won't get you too excited to dance and sing along, but will be calming for the soul.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Because I freelance part-time, a typical day for sessions or editing always start with me eating. i usually start working or prepping a session in the morning, so I grab breakfast and of course some coffee. I make a list of the tasks I need to accomplish or set a time where I need to have reached a certain point in my workflow. I check my email and respond to anything pressing. I then start session prep or editing.
Work Life Balance… Does this exist and what are your thoughts and tips?
I would like to believe a magical thing of a "work life balance" exists but currently in my life it doesn't. My life is work- either the part-time jobs I work to make a living or my photography. My friends and family all say I am always working. I can't help it, I don't like to be idle. As a creative I'm not sure this sort of balance will truly exist.For me, I am always think in terms of how can I improve, when is the next time I get to do a photography session. My tips for the magic balance (or at least my version of it currently) would be to 1) in general love what you do. If you enjoy it, it's not really work. 2) don't compare yourself or your work to others, to where you put yourself down 3) remember to breathe. Take a step back, pause and breathe - go mediate, walk a nature trail, or simply have a lazy day. Don't get so involved and wrapped up that you lose focus and most importantly lose yourself.
What are your favorite Freelancing resources?? (Programs, Apps, book recommendations, etc...)
Blog - The Soul Scripts (Jordan Lee)
Great for faith-based reality checks from a creative herself
Site- The Lawtog (Rachel Brenke)
Great advice and legal talk mainly for photographers, but other creatives could benefit
I have learned from experience that setting boundaries is essential when running your own business. You need to set boundaries with yourself regarding work hours and leisure time, but you also need to set boundaries with your friends and families requesting your services. How have you dealt with setting boundaries?
I am currently dealing with these boundaries while writing a business plan (bp). That term the "bp" is often scary and feared among creatives. What I've found in writing mine, is that I want a business that is well thought-out. Every policy and every detail I want to have already decided on. My advice, set your work hours that fit you, your schedule with life events, and your lifestyle (clubs, organizations, school, other jobs). Work when you can be the most productive, include off times in that schedule. With family and friends, establish rules for them from the start and set the expectation with your professional relationship with them. In setting these boundaries stick to your guns in whatever you decide.
Do you freelance on your own? Do you find it hard sometimes or lonely? How do you combat feeling discouraged?
I mainly freelance on my own and occasionally have subcontractors work with me on projects. I do find it lonely a times. Its hard knowing I'm the only one feeling what I'm going through at the moment. What helps is the online communities I've joined. The groups I'm in are supportive and most likely know how i feel or have felt it at some point in their creative journey. To combat the feeling of loneliness or from being discouraged, find your tribe and surround yourself with positive energy!
What would be your advice to collaborate with other creatives?
I haven't gotten many chances to collaborate with other creatives, but ideally the best way to go about it is to
1) find someone you vibe with personally.
Have coffee or tea and sit and just talk, get to know one another and what each other does.
2) Together brainstorm what is you want to do and how to
go about it.
3) As uncomfortable as it may seem, have a "business talk". Discuss the expectation from both ends, and what each will get out the
4) Draft a contract for all parties to sign. Legal stuff is never fun, but its for protection. Don't get offended if they suggest a terms of
agreement or a collaboration contract.
5) Be understanding and work as a team- team work makes the dream work!
How do you handle burnout? How do you creatively recharge?
With burnout, the struggle is definitely real. My junior year of college, I suffered a major burnout. I felt creatively dead and incapable. I talk to other creatives and a professor about what I was experiencing. They each told me to surround myself in nature, and allow myself time to be away mentally and even physically. Merge myself in other art forms. Be aware of how you doing emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, and talk it out with a mentor.
Any other advice you would have for someone looking to start freelancing?
Anyone looking to start freelancing my biggest pieces of advice would be to realize what it is you want to do and jump straight in. Freelancing isn't easy, so you need to be 100% sure of yourself. Seek out mentors in the area(s) you are interested in. Never stop learning! The moment you stop trying to better yourself, is the moment you lose in the freelancing game. In a day and age where everything and anything is at the tip of our fingertips with the
internet, there is no excuse to not constantly be building yourself up.
Any questions you have for other freelancers?
How you do gain new clients?
I rely a lot on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and also on referrals from others.
How you keep track of clients and their information?
The easiest thing for me when I started was to keep an Excel spreadsheet.
Where can we find you?
Have any more questions for Brittney? Or have some insight to her questions? Comment below!