TIME TO FRESHEN UP.
Here are 5 things you can do as a photographer to get more clients while not breaking your bank account. Some can involve money but at their barest, they don’t have to involve any spending at all. The only precious resources that they take are time and thought power. When we spend time and thoughts on things that matter to us, and plan to succeed, our chances are much better at achieving the goal. That’s why planning, manifesting success, and preliminary producing can save a business, project, or shoot from utter failure. Things don’t always go as planned but planning prepares us for the worst, and best. The important thing is to be prepped for both so that any and all situations can be taken advantage of or dodged when recognized.
Making photographs is such an amazing skill and experience that many photographers decide to turn their passion into an income stream and become entrepreneurs. Although this is a common path amongst photographers, it isn’t an easy one. There will be hurdles and unexpected turns for the worst. Running a business, and photographing, are similar though in the sense that they both call for constant action to be made, despite the current condition of things.
“Making photographs is a love affair with life.” – Burk Uzzle
There are a ton of new things that one must consider when starting a business, and the worries can become overwhelming so fast. But let’s suffice it to say that you have gotten over the initial freelance hump and take this from step 2; Which is refining and nurturing it where necessary in order for it to grow sustainably. And without reprieve. Step 2 actually goes on forever and is the more arduous part of entrepreneurship, believe it or not. Once you have created a business, it’s time to nurture it. To do so, one needs a super solid business plan, capital, and of course, the clientele to make it all move forward. Before we get too much further into this, a disclaimer: These are not magical steps that will instantly turn your business around. These are just proven things that can help you along your merry way to appeal to the correct people in the correct way.
Re-examine your target demographic
Everyone has dream clients: Adidas if you shoot sports. Harper’s Bazaar if you shoot fashion. Nat Geo if you shoot travel / documentary. The New York Times if you shoot photojournalism. Garden and Gun if you shoot gardens and guns. Truth is though, if you want to land an editorial magazine gig, but market to no one but families on Facebook, your chances are slim to none. Big breaks do happen, but not that often. It’s also not sustainable to bank on big breaks, as they are luck based and usually one offs that happen for a reason totally other than what you are doing to promote yourself. It’s behooving to you as a business and photographer to get to know your target demographic. If you do photograph families, parents on Facebook might be your jam because that may be where they hang out in there off time. Or at daycares, PTA meetings, or school sports functions. These make sense because a family photographs ideal customer is you guessed it: Parents. Same goes for every other kind of photographer. One must find those that buy the kind of photography you make, and then that is the tribe of people you market to. If the target demographic is off, your numbers and success rate will be too. As well as your bank account. So take the time to get to know those who buy your kind of photography. Research their needs, their opinions, their every thought. Once you know these things and everything else there is to know about someone, you’ll be much more well equipped to sell to them, and close in a way that will keep them coming back. If for no other reason, than you took the time to truly understand them.
Assess your print / digital marketing efforts
Take a look at what you’ve got going on in the promotional and marketing part of your business. I hope you don’t hear crickets when you open that cabinet of your precious business. It should be the most full and ever blooming part of the process. Plan. Create. Market and promote to the next big fish in your pond. A harsh truth; if you aren’t thinking ahead, you are already painfully behind. It’s not enough to just have an instagram, or portfolio, or website. You MUST show your work to those who want to buy a product like the one you make and sell. You must make work LIKE the work you want to get hired to do. This can be confusing for photographers because images are tied directly to light, memory, emotion, and time. All ethereal things that hook us creatively on the medium and its beauty. In business though, these are just small parts of a much larger machine. A machine that should target photo buyers (photo editors, art buyers, communications departments of companies, art directors for brands, among many others) specifically. Its not enough to throw a small line into a huge ocean of buyers and expect the right fish to bite. If you fish in the right pond though, for a certain fish, with good bait, at the right time? Your ideal fish is far more likely to bite, and you will succeed in your hunt for that fish far more often. Once you know your fish and its needs, likes, dislikes, tastes, thoughts, and inhibitions only then can you offer it a thoughtfully crafted snack in a creative way. And thats how you get clients on the hook and coming back for more.
Update your portfolio
If you haven’t realized by now, keeping a steady and concise body of work on hand is a must have for every photographer. Portfolios are the life blood of the photographers work and legacy, and you will be dealing with them a lot as an image creator. They show your salt as a creative, get people interested in your work, and wow those who get to see a version in print. So a good step to getting more clients is to keep your book, aka portfolio (those things people showed clients before instagram) updated. Add something new, take something out, move stuff around in sequence, make some work that is more in line with the work you want to be shooting for clients. Do anything you can to make the photos you have work better for you, and/or to make new pictures that will accomplish your marketing goals better, faster, and in a stronger manner. If you want to work with Nike, shoot sports. If you want to shoot for Apple, shoot tech. If you want to gain Gucci as a client, shoot fashion. There’s a formula to get the clients you want, and that formula though different for all, is basically the same. Show what you want to do for people in a creative and fresh way, then market it to them (them being you ideal client, or targeted fish according to the last allegorical paragraph). You know the saying, “it takes money to make money”? Same goes of your portfolio but in terms of photography. It takes photography to make photography. So go out there and make what you want to shoot and show it to those that want to see it / buy it / hire you!
Working with people is essential in photography. Unless you photograph mountains then 99% of the time it doesn’t really matter. Except when you have to travel, eat, or talk down a group of indigenous peoples that want to eat you for dinner and use your bones as toothpicks. Then people skills REALLY matter. Honestly, no matter what you photograph people skills matter the most all of the time. Even if you do shoot mountains or are alone for the majority of your process, you will always have to be able to meet a potential buy or editor and show that you can be worked with and tolerated. Nobody likes to work with divas, the loud kind or the quiet kind. So people skills become an important aspect of business. People don’t hire good photographs, they hire good people to make them. So get out there and work with people if you’re shy, outgoing, or somewhere in between. It can lead to good opportunities, as well as strengthen your reputation as a creator whose great to work with. Hate people? You might want to choose another profession. Love people? Let that shine when you collaborate and it will take you so far that its unbelievable.
Try something new
We all know that the same experiment will hardly ever yield different results. Lest we’re friendly enough with insanity to let it stick around. So if you are doing the same old things and getting the same old results, its time to flip things on their head and do something new. Whether its changing up and developing your visual aesthetic or taking one of the above steps! You have to be a breath of fresh air and an innovative force in the industry to succeed. So get a collaborator on the phone, make some new prints, revise your business strategy, get to work! When work can be as amazing and awe inspiring as photography is, it’s a good day indeed! Let us know if you want to take your business to the next level or try something new and different, We are here to help! We’ll guide you as much as possible in getting to where you want to go!
Thanks for reading along with us and we hope that it’s been not only helpful but inspiring too! Keep on keeping on and keep up the great work!