Last Updated Oct 30, 2020

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When my husband and I hired a photographer to take our wedding photos, I couldn’t wait to see the results. While we have always been a frugal couple, one thing I wasn’t willing to do was hire an amateur.

What is it that makes a photographer so good? It’s not just the thousands of dollars they invest in photography equipment or the way they stage each photo—it’s the time they put into editing the photos after the special event.

One experienced photographer says you should spend no more than two minutes editing each picture.

Spending just two minutes editing each photo can quickly turn into a 30 to 40-hour workweek. And that’s where a private, professional photo editor comes into the picture.

Hiring the post-session process out to a professional photo editor can help a photographer quickly scale her business and spend more time doing what she loves: taking photos.

Learn how to become a private photo editor and fill this open need that many photographers don’t know they have.

What is a Private Photo Editor and What Skills are Required?

A private photo editor is someone who edits photos for professional photographers. According to Katie Rivera, a long-time private photo editor and previous photographer, you don’t need to have a background in photography to learn how to be a photo editor.

You do, however, need to learn how to make the edits that photographers require, and execute the changes flawlessly to be successful in the industry. You will need to have photo editing skills and an understanding of the elements that make the perfect photo.

Who is Katie Rivera?

Katie Rivera with Photo Editor's Guide

Katie has been working as a professional photo editor for many years and is the founder and creator of The Photo Editor’s Guide, a comprehensive online course that teaches you everything you need to become a professional photo editor from home, even if you have no experience.

Katie says,

Many years ago, I ran a very successful wedding photography business. It was a dream to photograph weddings all over the world, but I quickly became burnt out. The long days shooting on my feet, carrying loads of heavy equipment, and constantly working nights and weekends was getting to me.

One day a friend mentioned I should try editing for other photographers, and that’s when it clicked! When I first had the realization that photo editing was a possible full-time escape from wedding photography, I went all in. Despite how scary it was making the change, I decided to completely quit my previous photography business to focus solely on photo editing.

Because my household depended on me as the main source of income, I needed to do everything I could to bring in editing income and FAST. And I did just that — After my first six months, I reached full-time income with online photo editing while working about 4-6 hours per day, around 3-5 days per week (depending on the season).

How Much do Private Photo Editors Make?

According to Salary.com, photo editors earn an average of $69,951 per year in the United States. Your income will vary based on your experience, speed, and volume of work.

Katie makes $75,000 per year working from home as a photo editor for wedding photographers. Since she had many years of experience behind her, she started out by editing an average of 75 photos per hour. After developing her workflows, she can now edit between 200 to 300 images per hour.

10 Steps to Become a Freelance Photo Editor

Whether or not you have photography experience, you can become a professional photo editor online. If you’re new to photo editing, it won’t lead to quick money in one day, but with practice, you can build your income.

Step 1: Assess Your Photography Skills

A professional photo editor doesn’t need to have photography skills but she does need to have an eye for good photography. Spend time looking through different photographers’ portfolios to determine if you can easily pinpoint what makes her photography unique and better than the average person’s picture.

If you struggle to see a difference then you are going to have a hard time becoming a successful photo editor.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Editing Programs

You can work hard as a photo editor or you can work smart. Using the right photo editing program can save you a lot of manual work. Familiarize yourself with reliable software like Lightroom by Adobe. You can start with a free trial and then upgrade to an affordable plan for just $9.99 per month when you decide to move forward in your photo editor business.

Step 3: Get the Proper Training

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to have a background in photography or a specific skill set to become a professional photo editor. You do, however, have to be willing to invest in training.

Check out The Photo Editor’s Guide. The online course is an investment that can take you from beginner to expert photo editor in little time.

Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice

Even before you seek your first client, you need to make sure your skills are marketable and ready to go. Mastering your photo editing skills with hours of practice can make all the difference in your future success.

Step 5: Set Up an Online Portfolio

Potential clients will want to see samples before hiring you to do paid work. You’ll need to build an online portfolio to showcase your photo editing skills.

To fill out your portfolio, find free stock photography on sites like Pixabay and Unsplash and edit them to look like professional photos. Another idea is to take your own photos, edit them, and add them to your portfolio.

Step 6: Establish Your Prices

It can be tempting to set low prices in exchange for quick money, but don’t undervalue your picture editing skills. Photographers spend many hours editing photos, so they understand the time that goes into it.

Help your potential clients understand how you can alleviate their work schedule and make more time for them to do what they love.

Step 7: Create a Digital Pamphlet

As a beginner private photo editor, you’ll have to be proactive to get your first clients. Since photographers are visual learners, the quickest way to reach them is by using Canva to create a beautiful pamphlet to showcase your work, skills, and purpose.

Many photographers don’t know what a private photo editor can do to help them further their business. Your pamphlet can explain this and share samples from your portfolio.

Step 8: Create a Plan to Execute Your Services

Before working with your first client, plan out the entire process from receiving the photos using a program to editing them in a timely manner to delivering the finished product to your client.

Katie says, “…make sure you have systems setup in place to help you get, manage, and retain clients, as well as an efficient system for editing wedding and portrait sessions in a timely manner, then delivering those edited images to your clients easily.”

Put your plan in writing and provide it to your clients so they will know what to expect from the start. Showing this type of organization and planning can lead to satisfied clients and reoccurring work.

Step 9: Get Your First Client

By now you have everything prepared to go search for your first client. You can start by sharing your digital pamphlet with photographers you know. Perhaps offer a small package for free to show them your skills and how much time you can save them. It’s important to establish the value your services offer them.

Step 10: Overdeliver on Every Project You Take

Whether you’re doing a small project for free or working for a returning client, make sure you’re delivering high quality photos every time. This type of service lends to working with returning clients. The better results you deliver, the more likely a client will hire you again.

Other Things That Can Help You Get Paid to Be a Photo Editor

There are a few things you can do to fast-track your journey to become a photo editor.

List Your Services Online

You may not personally know a photographer or feel comfortable reaching out to them to offer your services. Or, if you try this and don’t get your first client by networking on social media, consider listing your services online.

Etsy is more than a place to sell handmade goods online. There is a solid selection of photo editors who showcase their skills and sell their services through the platform. You can sign up for a free account here and create your first 40 listings for free.

Fiverr is another popular place to sell online services. Sign up for a free account and start offering your photo editing services here.

You can use these platforms to grow your skills and portfolio. You can also get great reviews to show to future potential clients.

Create a Business Plan

You may want to start out as a freelance photo editor, but there is potential to turn this skill into a home based business. Create a business plan. It can help you scale your income and brand yourself as a photo editor from the start.

Hire Help

Taking the next step and hiring someone to help you edit photos can help you quickly scale your income. Start by hiring one freelancer and grow your photo editing business from there. Make sure your hired help puts in as much attention to detail as you do so that every job is done perfectly.

Who Should Become a Private Photo Editor?

If you still don’t know if private photo editing is the right service business idea for you, check out Katie’s free online training. She has helped students learn their potential and go from beginner to professional photo editor in a short amount of time. The least you can do is hear her out and see if you have what it takes to become a private photo editor from home.

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