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How to make money online with freelance photo editing

Want to make money from freelance photo editing online? Here is everything you need to know.

Published onMay 16, 2021

freelance photo editing

Freelance photo editing is a great way to make a living. This is low-stress, creative work that you can complete while having the TV on in the background. Freelance photo editing also lends itself perfectly to working from home. This is ideal in the current situation we find ourselves in!

Despite all this, freelance photo editing is in high-demand and can pay well. In this post, we will look at how to become a freelance photo editor, or simply use this skill to earn a little extra cash on the side.

What does freelance photo editing involve?

As a photo editor, your job will be to beautify photos and images on behalf of companies and other clients. This is achieved via the use of digital tools. Often, this will amount to airbrushing, cropping, color correction, color grading, or enhancing. However, you may also be given more creative tasks depending on the project.

  • Airbrushing – Removing imperfections, often to make subjects’ skin appear smoother.
  • Cropping – Removing objects from a scene, so they can be inserted into other scenes. For example, you might want to remove a person from a photograph against a green-screen in order to place them on the cover of a box.
  • Color correction – This means fixing imperfections as they relate to the colors in an image. For example, if a photo was over-exposed then it might look washed out and require more contrast.
  • Color grading – This means you will be altering the way colors appear in the image, perhaps creating a warmer or cooler tone for example.

That said, some extremely talented photo editors are capable of creating entirely new images using a variety of techniques and effects. In other cases, they might use filters and other strategies to create exciting, dynamic visuals.

Why companies need freelance photo editing

To understand why this is needed, it can be useful to consider the perspective of the client. Companies require high-quality images as a way to market their products, services, and brands. You are far more likely to trust a company website if it uses high-quality images that don’t look like they were taken on a smartphone.

See also: How to become a video editor online

Unfortunately, even with the best cameras in the world, photography alone can only achieve so much. To really reach that professional standard, photo editing is almost always required.

Companies also often need to create unique images using photography: whether that’s an album or book cover, packaging for a product, or a piece of advertising.

how to become a photo editor

And of course, there are scenarios where members of the public need freelance photo editing. This may be to restore old photos, to perfect those wedding snapshots, or just for a bit of fun.

What skills do photo editors need?

So, what skills should you develop for freelance photo editing?

The industry standard when it comes to photo editing is Adobe Photoshop. This is an extremely powerful piece of software, that provides countless tools for all the processes we discussed earlier. Photoshop is so broadly used in fact, that the term “photoshopping” is often used generically to refer to editing!

See also: What is the gig economy? Why the future of work is online (and how to prepare)

That said, Photoshop can be expensive. If you are looking for a cheaper option, alternatives like Corel PaintShop Pro will provide an excellent starting point to learn the ropes (note that the UIs are very different, which can make transitioning between tools somewhat jarring). Adobe Lightroom is useful for quick touch-ups. GiMP is perhaps the best piece of free software.

Other software for freelance photo editing

While Photoshop will provide almost all the features you need for pure photo-editing, it can be useful to master additional skills. Specifically, you can benefit from learning design and illustration tools such as Adobe Illustrator or even something like ProCreate. This way, you will be able to combine your photo editing and image-creation skills to create a wider range of different final products.

See also: How to become a digital artist

Similarly, if you can combine photo editing with web design, video editing, or even 3D modeling. This lets you offer more features to clients, thereby standing out from the competition. Additionally, it’s useful to sign up for a stock photography website such as Shutterstock or Envato Elements. This will give you access to a range of royalty-free images you can utilize in your edits.

Training and certifications

The good news is that you don’t need any specific qualifications or certifications in order to become a freelance photo editor. With that said, Adobe Certification and other similar certifications can only help when it comes to finding freelance photo editing jobs.

See also: What is Adobe certification?

More important is your portfolio and list of clients. That means you need to develop the right skills to promote yourself. Taking a number of online courses can help you to develop these skills. Android Authority readers can access a number of heavily discounted online courses that will teach you the basic skills you need and take you all the way up to professional level.

For example, beginners can get Photoshop for Beginners for just $25. This course, usually valued at $149, provides 7+ hours of content and teaches all the fundamental skills you need to start editing photos professionally.

Those wanting to take their skills further should check out Adobe Photoshop & Editing Mastery Bundle. This bundle of 5 courses would normally cost $306 but you can get it for just $31. Here, you’ll learn a number of specific skills, including how to work with black and white photography!

How to find photo editing jobs

Now you have the skills you need, all that is left is to find the work. You can do this in a number of ways. The easiest way to find freelance photo editing jobs is by looking at freelance sites like UpWork and

It can take a while to gain traction on these sites and there is undoubtedly an “art” to it. However, with a little work, you’ll find this to be a powerful and simple way to find paying clients. Check our guide to find other great freelancing sites.

Remember: you will often be able to find more work if you are able to branch out and offer a combination of creative skills.

photo editing

Keep in mind that you don’t have to work as a “gun for hire” but can “productize” your service. For example, sites like Fiverr will allow you to post services with set specifications and prices. For example:

  • Airbrushing for wedding photography
  • Color grading for holiday photos
  • Cropping one detailed subject
  • [Insert fun effect]ify any photo!

This is a great way to focus on the types of work you enjoy/are good at. At the same time, this lets you more easily predict the amount of time you will spend on a given project.

Photo editors can also find work through a personal website if they are able to promote themselves through social media or a blog. Or why not contact a company directly with an example of your work and what you can do for them?

Whatever the case, there are a lot of ways to make money from freelance photo editing. If this is something you have a knack for, why not turn that skill into a hustle?

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