Are you wondering how to become a freelance photo editor and ways to start building your business?

Photo editors are what make photographers look good. No matter how much money photographers invest in equipment or staging before a shoot, professional editing is what will make their photos look exceptional.

To free up more time, photographers often turn to photo editing outsourcing to help with editing their photography.

In this post, we’ll share how to become a freelance photo editor and start building your business so that you can get clients at rocket speed. We’ll also cover how much freelance photo editors make and what types of services they offer.

Let’s jump straight into the nitty-gritty of this business opportunity! 

How Much Does a Freelance Photo Editor Make?

How to become a freelance photo editor

According to, the base salary for Freelance Photo Editors ranges from $38,858 to $51,862 with an average base salary of $42,802. 

However, there are private photo editors who started from scratch and make as much as $75K per year. 

How much you’ll make, will typically depend on your qualifications, your eye for photography, how dedicated you are, and your ability to maintain client relationships.

What Does a Freelance Photo Editor Do?

What Does a Freelance Photo Editor Do

As a freelance photo editor, you work as an independent contractor for different types of photographers. It’s also common to work for advertising agencies or other organizations in the photography industry.

Generally, your main duties are to enhance, edit, or retouch digital and print images.  

To give you a better overview, here are common services that photo editors offer:

  • Culling services: This means going through the photographer’s photos to help separate the good photos from the bad photos. 
  • Color correction: You can provide basic color correction services, where you simply adjust the light in photos.
  • Photo retouching: Retouching photos include things like fixing skin blemishes, teeth whitening, removing objects from images, and so forth.
  • Background removal or clipping: This is especially useful for people who are running eCommerce stores/websites and need to remove the background from their product photos.
  • Real estate photo editing: You can offer to enhance property photographs for Realtors, as well as more advanced photo editing services, like virtual staging and floor plans
  • And more.

How to Become a Freelance Photo Editor (9 Tips to Start Building Your Business)

Now, that you know how much a freelance photo editor makes and what services to offer, let’s take a closer look at how to become a freelance photo editor and start growing your business.

1. Acquire the Right Qualifications 

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

Even though many private photo editors have become successful without professional training, you have a better chance to become an established photo editor with a high school diploma or G.E.D. certificate.

More importantly, you should have an excellent grasp of photo editing software and equipment such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, ACR, or Gimp and their top tools. 

Also, remember that your monitor has to be color and brightness calibrated. Even though people tend to view images online, you need to make sure you provide common standards if your photos are printed or published in a magazine.  

Additionally, professional experience in the photo industry is a plus. To get relevant experience, it’s always good to start working at agencies. That way, you can work up contacts in the industry to bring with you when you decide to stand on your own two feet. 

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2. Have a Natural Eye for Photography and Editing

To succeed as a professional photo editor, you need to have a natural eye for photography and how to enhance images. 

One way you can test this is to look through different photographers’ portfolios to see if you can easily pinpoint what makes their photography unique and better than a photo taken with, for example, an iPhone. 

If you struggle to see what makes the photographer’s photos better than an average image, you’re going to have a hard time becoming a successful photo editor.

3. Create an Online Portfolio

Create an online portfolio

Creating an online portfolio, where potential clients can view your work is a must. Naturally, people want to see your photo editing skills before paying for your services. 

You can create an online portfolio by using popular platforms, like Folio Websites or WordPress. They allow you to easily add image galleries and other special features, where you can showcase your work. 

To work up a portfolio, you can use free stock photography from sites such as:

  • Unsplash
  • Pexels 
  • Pixabay
  • Canva

And then edit them to look like professional photos. Or you can simply take your own photos, edit them, and add them to your portfolio.

4. Set Competitive Pricing

You’ve probably heard that you should offer a low price point when starting out to attract new customers.

That’s not necessarily true.

While it can be tempting to set low prices in exchange for more work, you shouldn’t undervalue your editing skills and business.

If you do, you can easily get stuck in the low-rate bracket.

Instead, you should set a competitive price that shows you know your worth, but that’s not overpriced compared to the competition.

Look up the average hourly rate for photo editing in your local area or country, depending on where you plan to offer your services.

Besides, photographers know that editing takes time. Just make sure that they get their money’s worth and they’ll be happy to pay your rate.

Show them how your editing saves them the valuable time they can use to be out on the field shooting more photos and building relationships with clients.

5. Develop a Marketing Strategy

Develop a marketing strategy

It’s crucial to develop a marketing strategy if you want to grow your photo editing business and get more clients. 

One of the most cost-effective ways to market your business and get more eyes on your portfolio is through social media.

Start by asking yourself what social media networks that are relevant for your business and where you can best promote your services. 

Both Instagram and Pinterest are great networks for visual content, and Facebook is a safe card for engaging with all types of audiences.

For example, if you are a real estate photo editor, Facebook is where you’ll find most Realtors and agents since they can easily list and market their properties for sale.

You need to research your target audience and check what social media platforms they are active on.

But don’t take on more than you can handle.

It’s better to post frequently on a few networks than posting randomly on many different networks. Focus on increasing engagement on one or two social media platforms and get to know your audience.

In addition, creating a referral program is also a good way to attract more clients. For instance, you can inform your photographer clients that they’ll get a 25% discount on their next order if they refer you to their network. 

 6. Create a Profile on Freelancer Websites

A good way to get more clients when just starting out is to register a profile on freelancer websites such as and

Even sites, like, can present a good opportunity to create different editing gigs and services to get more clients. 

However, there’s a lot of competition on these sites, so you need to try to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

The best way to do this is to focus on one photo editing niche. For example, real estate photo editing or editing of wedding photos, and then become the industry expert in that area.

7. Ask for Testimonials or Reviews

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As important as your portfolio is to showcase your work, client reviews or testimonials will help people to trust your editing skills and business. 

People tend to trust their peers over regular brand marketing, so don’t be afraid to ask your clients to leave you a review.

If they don’t respond to that, you can offer them an incentive in form of a photo editing discount or a giveaway to write the review.

Then, share your 5-star reviews on your website, social media, email marketing, and other marketing material to build trust.

The good news is that the more online reviews you get, the more visibility Google gives you in the search results as well.

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9. Hire Expert Editing Help

If you want to scale your business quickly, you should consider hiring someone to help you edit more photos in a shorter time frame. 

The photographers or agencies you work with have pressure to deliver their final product to clients. So, if you can help them with ultra-fast editing, they will likely hire your services again.  

Start by hiring a freelancer that you feel confident working with and grow your photo editing business from there.

PhotoUp’s Expert Photo Editors Can Help Scale Your Business

PhotoUp's professional photo editors

PhotoUp has a team of professional photo editors from the Philippines that can help you with everything from simple image enhancements to advanced object/background removal, image retouching, virtual staging, etc.

Whatever your needs and photo editing niche, we have a dedicated editor for you! 

Besides, photo editors from the Philippines offer affordable prices and are used to working uncomfortable hours to best serve their clients.

Sign up for a free PhotoUp account today, and let our expert editors help you edit your images at lightning speed.

We hope this blog post helped you learn how to become a freelance photo editor and start building your business. If you enjoyed reading this post, you may also want to check out the following resources: