Dec. 3, 2021

Relocating a freelancing business

Relocating a freelancing business

💯 💯 💯 "When your costs go up and your client work goes down, you want to do the best that you can to maximize your time efficiency."

EP 49: Moving out-of-state or even out-of-country can bring a lot of stress, and it can also be a bumpy transition for your freelancing business as you try to rebuild a client base.  In this episode, I respond to an audience question about rebooting a photography business outside the US.  

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Michael Der  0:02  
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.

So I have a question for you. Have you ever considered moving out of state or even out of country? Maybe it's now maybe the next few years, but it's on the table? Now? Have you ever wondered what would happen to your freelancing business? If you did? How painstaking a process would that be? After all, it probably took you a good while to cultivate your brand and your reputation in your current market. So you likely want it to transition smoothly as you settle into your new digs. So today, I'm fielding a great question from John in San Francisco, about moving his business out of town. Hi,

John Deven  0:59  
Hi Michael, this is John Deven, from the San Francisco Bay area, just wanted to say I really appreciate the value you're providing. With the interviews of the guests that you have on your podcast. I enjoy shooting adventure sports and fitness and moving to a foreign country. And curious if you have any advice on how to reboot a photography business moving to a new state, or in my case, a new country. Thanks in advance. And I hope to hear more about what you have to say about this. Thanks.

Michael Der  1:30  
Okay. Thank you for the question, John, I love this thought experiment, not just for you, not just for me. But for everyone else listening. There are so many reasons nowadays for people to move out of state, regardless of your age. Maybe it's for career reasons. Maybe it's for lifestyle reasons, maybe it's economic reasons. Maybe it's just to support a partner or spouse or to be closer to family. But whatever your reason is, it's always a wise move to consider these options now, because you never know what opportunities are going to arise throughout the course of your life. And so I want you to feel confident in your situation, even if you don't know exactly what you're going to do yet. So here are a handful of things that come to mind as you prepare for your move, or if you've already moved, and are now just trying to piece things together. 

So the first thing that I would do, if you haven't already is figure out all the necessary paperwork that is involved in order for you to start working in your new place of residence. Now I know you're more interested in how to get clients and we'll get to that, but this is going to set up everything else first, the first thing I would research is Which country's taxes you must file with and how to do it. So if you earn income outside of the US, you actually may have to file with the country that you earned it in, as well as the United States. So get to know your situation because it may take you many years to gain citizenship in your new country. And even if you do gain citizenship, it doesn't inherently relinquish your US citizenship in less outstanding circumstances arise. So you may actually have to file with both countries for the foreseeable future. Now here's what it says on the IRS website. If you are a US citizen or a resident alien living outside the United States, your worldwide income is subject to US income tax regardless of where you live, however, you may qualify for certain foreign earned income exclusion and or foreign income tax credits. 

Now another thing to research is how to file your business in the city or region that you're in. If you're planning on doing that at all. Do you need to register for a new sole proprietorship? Do you need to dissolve your current LLC? What licenses and permits do you need to apply for it? These are some of the generic questions that I would ask yourself and better yet, ask a qualified tax professional or even potentially an attorney, depending on how you anticipate structuring your business. So for anyone planning on moving out of state or out of country, it's a good idea to get a grasp on what is required of you as you begin to do business in your new location. 

So assuming you've gotten a grasp on all the legalities of your business and your new home country, and you're good to go, I would seek out athletic and adventure sports events that are actually US based and hold events out of country from time to time. So if they show up in your new neck of the woods once a year, be that guy that they can count on. So they don't have to send someone out to cover that event. It still amazes me how many places I get sent to out of state, because the company that's hiring me, did not trust local photographers. So if you can develop just a little bit of awareness and trust with familiar us clients, you will be the one dependent in your new country each time they stop that event. Now you're coming from San Francisco, which is a loaded market, there's a ton of photographers there. I mean, I rarely ever get sent to the Bay Area because they have too many qualified shooters to hire locally. But I'll get sent out to Corpus Christi, Texas, I'll get flown up to Green Bay, Wisconsin or Kennedy Ville, Maryland, or places like that. And even areas like Hawaii, which you might think would normally attract a lot of photographers, I've done multiple jobs out there. So I say these things to give you hope that if you can simply connect with any adventure sports event company and get on their radar, they will likely be happier hiring you than sending someone from the mainland where they have to pay for flights, hotels and rental cars. And even if they do send out their own shooter, they still might hire you for your local knowledge and ease of communication. 

Now if you can't get hired to shoot these events right out of the gate, what I might recommend doing is attending the event when it's in town on your own, and then taking note of what sponsors show up. This is going to help you create a contact list of people to reach out to no one little caveat here is that if you're commissioned to shoot that event, either by the event itself or by a local newspaper or something like that, it is not proper etiquette to promote yourself while you're on the job for someone else, okay? So if someone asked you for your card, that's one thing, but I would not be schmoozing sponsors while you're there working on assignment. But if you're not hired to be there, and you're just part of the Gen pop, I would have no problem with you making contact with the sponsors that are there. And passing your information along. The likelihood of you contacting someone there that is in the position of hiring photographers directly is probably pretty low. But networking is networking, and you might get a bite. 

So my next pursuit would be to create my own projects that I could in turn pitch to editorial publications, like newspapers and magazines, not just locally, but also ones in the States, because you already consume American publications as it is. So you should have an idea of what kinds of stories and what kinds of pieces the American public would consume. So think about the kind of adventure sports that are popular in this new country. Are they any different than what the US shows? Would they appeal to tourism and travel magazines and sites? Does this new community support and embrace athletic ventures that common American communities don't you know, the way that Chinese support table tennis or the way Russians train at wrestling, or the way that the Swiss embrace paragliding? I mean, I'm just making stuff up at this point. But think about what is unique about this country, its passions and its community and find the story. Now admittedly, I'm not great at this aspect. Myself journalistic story pieces are not my strongest suit. But right now you're opening yourself up to new options. So if your region does something that absolutely fascinates you, as a consumer find a way to cover it photographically maybe write an interesting piece on it, interview some of the key people in it, you know, think outside the realm of just photojournalism and think journalism in general as a whole, and then send your article and your gallery to prospective clients. 

And maybe you don't really care about doing some sort of narrative driven story. And you're really more interested in doing something that's more marketing based, which is where my background is from. So if that is you, you can actually do the same thing for company brands and services. So for instance, if you photograph a fitness model, you can promote that work to the local gym, or to clothing lines. But just keep in mind that you're going to need property and model releases for all involved in your shoot if you want to license commercially. So if you can't get those signed, you can still pitch your talents and your services, you will just be pitching them on future work, not the work you just created. So there's an important distinction there. But regardless, I think the beauty of moving to a new location is that you can get a lot of inspiration to go out and make the pictures that you want to make where maybe the place you've been living for the last 20 years fails to do so after time. So it is your job to think of ways to leverage that new work to connect with content publishers. 

So my last suggestion for you, John is to actually delegate or outsource time sucking activities, particularly when you're moving, you know you have a lot on your plate when you're relocating. And what happens is your costs go up and your client work goes down. So you want to do the best that you can to maximize your time efficiency. And one of the biggest time sucks for all creatives is looking for potential clients, researching them, finding their contact information, and then trying to get them on the phone or getting them to open an email. Now if you like doing all that stuff, more power to you, I just know that the majority of us, we hate it. So while I do recommend doing that for the clients that you really want to work with the ones that you really are passionate about trying to collaborate with. Just remember, you don't want to waste time with people who are not interested. So scour job search engines and apps like to see who is looking for work. Instead of you spending hours applying to a job that is already filled. Create a thumbtack account to have small gigs pop up in your inbox that you can bid on that align with your strengths. And consider paying for a virtual assistant who has lead generation skills to scout the local community for editors and brands and specific positions that you think you'd be a good fit with. It's great to know how to do all the nitty gritty minutiae of marketing. But if you can bypass a lot of that and pass it off to someone else, and just get started working, even if they're small jobs, you're going to build a lot of momentum and feel much better about your situation. 

Now, with all this being said, John, I have never moved my freelancing business out of state or out of country. So I am giving you this advice based off of what I think I would do, I have moved my fair share of times, but I've never done it with a freelancing business. So what I'd like to do is open this question up to the Artrepreneurs community, folks, if you or anyone you know, has successfully moved a freelancing business to another state or another country and would like to share what you've learned. Reach out to John on Instagram at John Deven photography and let him know what worked and what didn't. And if you're feeling extra generous, reach out to us on entrepreneurs pot and let us know as well. Maybe we feature you on our blog or bring you on the show to talk about it. Now each freelancing business has his own unique qualities and therefore will incite different strategies. You know, if you're a wedding photographer, your marketing approach might be less direct and more third party based. If you're an advertising photographer, you might pursue agency help. And if you're a newspaper photographer, you're gonna seek out a whole lot of prayer. I'm just kidding you folks, you know, it's all love and support here. So John, I

hope this episode gives you a little bit of food for thought. I like to say I don't have the answers. I just have more questions. And so hopefully this gets you thinking about your direction on the road to self discovery. So once again thank you so much for leaving us that voicemail that was a brilliant question and I am wishing you all the best now for the rest of you if you would like to leave a voicemail question yourself and have it featured on the show, go to and record your query. once again. That is as simple as that, folks, thank you for tuning in. That is my time for today. I'll see you guys next week. And keep on keepin on

Hey, everybody, this is Michael der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out Artrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for our take care of you will see you next week.

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