Here’s a simple (not easy) 5-step process to get camera time with the clients you want:
(This applies more to business clients for commercial work, or buyers for editorial, landscape, or travel work, but is a great exercise for portrait photographers as well. Try this on local politicians, big wigs, and influencers.)
- 1. Make a list of potential clients (for free or paid work, either way).
- 2. Approach, show portfolio, make offer.
- 3. If yes, book it! If no, ask, “I want to work with you guys in the future. What can I do to be the perfect photographer for you? Better art? Better ideas?” Let them give you invaluable feedback on why they said no instead of yes, so you have real, specific goals you can work toward to make yourself more valuable to potential clients. (pro-tip: Keep asking “And what else?” until that feedback is exhausted.)
- 4. Tell them you’ll follow up in six months. And then do it. Show your work; show how you listened and improved.
- 5. Repeat this process until you get to yes, or you get a no so definitive or outrageous that you can very comfortably write them off as someone you don’t even want to work with. (Set this threshold pretty high…)
It takes some organization and calendar scheduling to work this process well, but boy does it get results.
Then once you feel you’ve got the experience you need (and you may never ‘feel’ that, but you can get yourself there intellectually) and you’re ready to charge, you’ll have contacts, portfolio, testimonials, a network, repeat clients, referrals, everything you need for a successful launch.
Is this useful to you? This is exactly the kind of content I send out to my e-mail subscribers every week for free. You can subscribe in the top-right corner of any page on this site, or just drop me an e-mail.
What’s the biggest challenge holding you back today? E-mail me at email@example.com and let me know.
– James Michael
P.S. Know that if you’re the type to wait for the clients to come to you, the photographer across town who deploys this process is going to be taking food off your dinner plate within 6-18 months. If you have social anxiety that’s a different ballgame (e-mail me and let’s talk about your unique photography sales funnel), but if you’re just being lazy or uppity about hustling for clients and feedback, tough love: GOYAKOD.
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- Pricing for growth versus pricing for profit
- What should I charge for my part time photography? – Your First Customer Series, Part 3
- The Selfish Part Time Photographer
- How do I get my first photography client? – Your First Customer Series, Part 4