When the web first emerged, web design knowledge was a scarce commodity, and developers were able to charge ridiculous amounts of money to create simple websites. Now that everyone and their mother knows how to do simple HTML, you’ll need to learn a lot more and offer something unique to stand a chance in the freelance market.
The exact same thing is happening in the photography industry. As the cost of shooting, printing, and distributing photos goes down, simply knowing how to take “good pictures” is no longer enough.
Marketing guru Seth Godin just published a short, simple, and motivational post on this subject, titled “If you want to get paid for your freelance work“. He writes that freelancers must,
[...] find and lead a tribe, build a base of people who want you, and only you, and are willing to pay for it.
[...] develop both skills and a reputation for those skills that make it clear to (enough) people that an amateur solution isn’t nearly good enough, because you’re that much better and worth that much more.
[...] pick yourself and book yourself and publish yourself and stand up and do your work, and do it in a way for which there are no substitutes.
It’s easy to point at the fact that amateur photographers are willing to shoot for little or no money these days, but the fact is that the whole landscape of the industry is undergoing a massive shift away from scarcity.
Godin’s point is that as scarcity in the industry dies away, freelance photographers who want to survive will need to make themselves the scarce commodity.
If you want to get paid for your freelance work [Seth Godin]