We are so excited and blessed to have Jenna Clark Guest blog for today’s Business Wednesday feature! She has such amazing insight on how to get clients in the door! Thanks girl for taking the time to share with us!
Check out Jenna’s work on her WEBSITE & FACEBOOK page!
I had a friend recently tell me, “So I have a business name, a website, a portfolio…now what? How do I get clients?!?!”
This is a photographer’s question that haunts them late a night, in bed, while chewing your nails, tossing and turning, muttering to yourself…err, or is that just me? I started my company in March 2011 because I wanted to never work for another person again. I created the name of my business, created a simple website and subsequently wondered why I had no clients as well. Thus began months and months of growing pains, going to networking meetings, shoving my company onto friend’s Facebook pages and even placing my business cards into books at the bookstore. I was getting no where and making virtually nothing. I threw money in various advertisements, with no luck. If I knew then what I knew now, but I’m here to help you, the reader, not repeat my networking mistakes!
Solicit your friends
Not in an annoying way, as you’d prefer them to stay friends, yes? One smart way to do this is to start a Facebook company page and post on your personal page that you’d love their support! It is vitally important to remember that not all friends will add you. I think I have almost 400 on my personal page and only 65 like my page and that’s just fine. Do not start your networking by hustling your besties, because they will be your biggest supporters in the end! Then, ask who would like a complimentary (NOT FREE) session. Long story short, take the photos, post them on your company Facebook and tag them! Facebook is now built as the ultimate sharing tool and their friends will see your work! If you’re lucky, they’ll go to your company page!
Make New Friends
I went to dozens of networking meetings and while I did meet a lot of lovely individuals, most people are self-involved with their own companies. They don’t go looking for a photographer and 9 times out of 10, they won’t hire you either. This is perfectly fine. Instead, make friends and invite them somewhere. For instance, coffee dates and lunches are tax deductible and cheap! Say, “Hey! I would love to learn more about your carpentry business! Would you like to get together this week over coffee? I’ve been dying to know the difference between mahogany and oak wood in flooring!” Most people would be delighted to do this, because who doesn’t enjoy a conversation about themselves?
Once you’re on the coffee date, listen to them. If they ask you about yourself, that’s awesome! If not, don’t sweat it! The name of the game is to be Their Photographer. See, everyone knows someone who takes photos, right? The trick is to be that someone they know. So let them talk their heads off! Take notes! Ask about why they started their company! At the end, slyly say, “Well, it was superb meeting you! I can’t wait to refloor my bathroom! Hey, if you or anyone you know needs portraits, here’s my card. I’ll give you a sweet “awesome person” discount!”
BFF for life, promise!
Talk to Vendors
If you’re a wedding photographer and you’re not doing this, you’ll never ever ever be successful. Ever. As Jasmine Star puts it, your “network is your networth.” You’ll want at least three wedding planners on your side, as well as a florist and at least two videographers. If you can develop a relationship with a bridal shop, you’re WINNING.
If you’re a portrait photographer, you need to know at least two solid makeup artists, a clothing store manager, a stylist and at least one hair stylist. If you’re into working with families, get in with a local daycare. Go meet with at least three clothing stores, one local toy store and find a play date group to approach!
If you haven’t caught on by now, you need to know people who are within your industry. This business is 75% based on referrals and who better to expand your network than people who align their companies with your own?? I have gotten two referrals from makeup artists, three from wedding planners, two from videographers and one from another photographer.
I just started this method three months ago.
Imagine how much success I’ll see in six months. Think about it.
Help other Photographers
When you have a defined style, a great website and a handle on how you’ll get clients, that’s when you need to help out others. This isn’t an option. Okay, well it is, but it shouldn’t be. When I started out in this business, I was beyond frustrated with my local photography industry. I emailed literally over 20 different photographers and received no response. I had to learn everything I know now by spending hours and thousands (yes thousands) of dollars on different techniques, advertising methods and networking meetings.
So it is your responsibility to help others. When you do this, you not only help struggling newbies but it helps strengthen the reputation of your company. Once again, if a low budget photographer isn’t comfortable shooting that $3k wedding that was offered to them, who do you think they’ll refer? You, because you helped them when they needed it.
If you follow all of my suggestions, I guarantee you’ll see clients gradually pour in. Mix it with quality customer service, excellent products and images and you’ll be famous in no time!
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