Happy Monday, sweet friend!
Do you have a cup of coffee in hand? Because we are about to dive head first into Part 1 of a three-week series on Big Scary Questions, and the first question is “How the heck do I even find clients?!” (Good morning! Did that wake you up?!)
(Psst…and before we get started, don’t forget that I’ll be hopping on Facebook Live TODAY at 12:30pm EST to talk in more detail about allllll of this! Eeek…it’s my first time ever!)
Ok, so let’s break it down…whether you’re either new to photography as a business, you’ve taken a break and you’re getting back in the game, you’re switching photography niches, or you’re moving to a new city, you are in a position where you don’t have clients but you NEED to find them as quickly as possible. Don’t fret—I’ve got your back!
Ok, I’m going to get real weird on you right off the bat, but stick with me—I have a non-weird point, I promise!
Remember in sex ed (are you awake NOW??) when the teacher says that if you sleep with someone, you’re sleeping with every person they’ve slept with? (Seriously, stick with me!) At my college orientation, they had students do a skit that showed how one person was connected to X number of people, and then each of those people was connected to X number of people…and before you know it, the stage was full of people. (Eww, I know.)
But, here’s the point—think of building your client list in the same way. Every person you photograph knows X number of people who might see the pictures you took or hear that you did a shoot for them. And then those people know X number of people who may need a photographer, and since they just heard your name or saw your work, you’re top of mind for them to refer.
Think of every person you photograph as a touchpoint within a larger referral network, and you want a stage full of touch points, right? (I told you I had a super good non-weird point!)
So get out there and SHOOT. Shoot for free if you need to—there’s no shame in that when you are first starting out or building a portfolio in a new niche. (Just don’t stay free forever–we’ll talk about pricing another day!) However you can get behind your camera and put a person in front of it, do it! The more you shoot, the more touch points you are generating, and the bigger your referral network gets.
Social media can be SO overwhelming, I know—so I suggest picking two channels and focusing all of your attention there. For me, it’s Facebook and Instagram. I’m not finding clients on Twitter, so I don’t waste any precious time there, but maybe that’s where you thrive! Wherever you think your clients will be, get active on that channel. Share your photos consistently, and social media will work alongside those touch points to spread your name within the referral network you’re creating.
Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are a photographer, even if it’s still a side hustle. I built my business entirely as a side hustle, and word of mouth was how it grew into a full-time gig. And I wasn’t kidding—make sure you have a business card! You don’t want to meet the perfect client and then have them forget how to get in touch with you. moo.com offers awesome templates you can use, or you can get a custom card designed. I’ll tell you how I got my first business card on Facebook Live!
I recently booked a wedding because I started CrossFit. No joke! A friend of mine at the gym has a childhood friend getting married in Savannah, and she told her about me. I’ve never even photographed my gym friend—she just knows what I do and passed my name along.
So, the lesson is to get out there and try new things, because trying new things means meeting new people. If you aren’t sure where to start, I recommend meetup.com—there are groups on there for almost any interest! You will meet new people, maybe learn a new skill, AND hopefully find some clients along the way!
This is a tricky one, because every situation will be different. So I’ll tell you what I’ve done, and hopefully you’ll find a nugget in there to apply to your business.
I didn’t pay for ANY advertising until 4 years into my business. Then when I re-branded to Apt. B Photography and re-launched my business in 2014 (still as a side hustle), I started paying to boost Facebook posts and ran a few Facebook ads. I grew my following to over 2,000 followers before I ever left my full-time job, and Facebook became an easy way for people to find me—paying for that bit of extra reach was worth it!
I also used to pay for Wedding Wire and The Knot memberships, but they didn’t have the return I wanted. For some people, it works great! But for my business, there are better ways I could be spending my money to find clients.
And finally, I ran two print ads in a local wedding magazine in 2015/2016. Those ads were mainly to give legitmacy to my business and get my name in front of other vendors, but I’ve heard my brides say they saw my ad in the magazine (even if it’s not where they first found me). So a well-placed ad can bring awareness to your brand and put your name in front of potential clients.
This year, I’m not doing any paid advertising, and I’m putting all of that budget towards vendor relationships and the client experience, but that’s a tale for another day…
Still with me?? I know that’s a LOT. So let’s make it super simple. What’s ONE thing you can do today? Figure out which one of those five tips resonated with you the most, and then put just one thing on your to do list. Maybe it’s looking into the cost of business cards. Maybe it’s joining a Meetup group. Maybe it’s simply sharing a photo on Facebook. Whatever it is, it’s one more way you are building your dream life.
Speaking of Facebook—I’ll see you LIVE at 12:30pm EST. Can’t wait!!
P.S. Extra brownies points for your Monday and a virtual bear hug if you tag me in a Facebook or Instagram post telling people about my Facebook Live event at 12:30pm! Hope to see you there. <3