We have teamed up with our best friends at Photoshelter to share with you everything we have learned from decades of experience helping our customers build their business. The result is a guide that every photographer should have in their marketing arsenal. Chock-full of tips and tricks, our thirty-six-page guide is broken into six bite-sized chapters which cover our most frequently asked questions relating to building your personal brand and marketing yourself as a commercial photographer.
Do you remember why you got into this business? I’m guessing it was probably because you loved making pictures. It was intoxicating. You were inspired by your subject or maybe the way the light danced in front of your lens. What’s that great quote? “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. Now, can you pinpoint the very moment when you realized all the other things that had to happen before you could really create those images?
Welcome to the reality of being a commercial artist! Whether you’re medium is photography, illustration, or video… if you want to be successful in today’s marketplace, you need to build a business. Today’s challenges have never been greater. Not only do you need to win the account from your neighboring photographer, but you’re also competing with stock collections, free content, in-house production departments, pro-consumer digital cameras giving clients the opportunity to take their own images, photo editing software to fix ordinary images, and an authentic trend of embracing “real photography” taken from smartphones. Ah, but there is a silver lining to our future, our industry has never needed visual content more than they do today. Where in the old days (say 2010) brands used traditional marketing to advertise their products on a quarterly if not yearly basis, today’s brands are forced to engage with their customers daily. They desperately need you to create content for them. Though you might feel weighed down by the realities of this industry, if you can rise above the clutter and visual noise out there, you can have a very successful career.
Like any business, yours needs to start with the right tools and a marketing plan. Of course, you can scale these up or down, but in the end, you need a way to get your work out to clients, and when you get their attention, your message better has to stick power. The following pocket guide will walk you through the basics: finding your voice, defining your strategy, targeting your marketplace, developing the right business tools, planning out your marketing, and the follow-up.
The key to standing out from the crowd is your voice. You can’t be just another pretty face; you have to own something in order to be remembered. Your voice is your slant on a particular subject. How many times have you heard this while showing your book to a client?
I really love your work. I can’t believe we haven’t hired you yet. Why haven’t we worked together? I swear, I’m going to call you the next time something comes up.
Those clients mean every word they say, but though the work may be good, it’s not memorable. Here’s where your voice comes in. When you’re trying to make a first impression, it’s really all about making your work digestible. The work not only needs to make sense, but the client has to go to that place in their head where they say, “Oh! I totally get that this food photographer is all about a minimal way of shooting food.” When the client can see your voice, they will then take that next step. They will start to look at your work and think about what projects they are working on and where they can use a person like yourself. Now having a voice doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a variety of subjects, it means that when you present your work to clients, you’re showing them that you’re trying to own this thing, and this thing is what is going to stick out in their mind.
One of my favorite myths in our business goes like this… a guy walks into a portfolio review with his print book under his arm. He knows he’s going to see 20 different clients today; therefore, he chooses 20 different looks to include in his book. If you are thinking like this guy, you’re trying to make sure that each of those 20 clients sees something that they’re going to love. Now, even though that sounds like a great plan, here’s the problem. That client might think:
Wow, this image represents exactly what we need, BUT (and it’s a really big but) if I hire this guy, what are the chances he’s going to give me an image that looks like this one image I love OR an image that looks like the other 19 images I don’t?
Your voice is about consistency. Your voice is a promise that when you are hired, you will take an image much like the images on your site. This business is all about risk. You as the artist have to take all the risks. You have to put everything in your voice. You have to stand strong and scream, “THIS IS WHAT I DO!” Yes, there will be clients out there that don’t really need your slant on their campaign, but when a client likes your voice… it’s a home run. The client doesn’t like to take a risk. The fairytale we were all told about a client seeing a diamond in the rough and investing in an undefined talent rarely happens. Why would they take the risk and hire someone on a psychic feeling that this person might be able to pull off their campaign when there are tons of people out there that can show the client image after image that they can do it.
Your voice should go something like this:
I’m a (blank) photographer, and my work is about (blank) and (blank). I’m a travel photographer, and my work is all about adventure and experiencing a destination through the 5 senses.
How do you find your voice? Isn’t that the million-dollar question. I can tell you how I find someone’s voice. As a consultant, I have the luxury of doing this every day. I can smell a voice from miles away. When I look at someone’s portfolio, I can usually narrow their work down to 5-10 signature pieces. These are signature pieces because there’s DNA in the images, a consistent quality linking them. Then it’s just a matter of connecting the dots. Is it the color palette that attracts me? Is it the off moment you seem to capture in every photo? Or maybe it’s your composition that rises to the top every time. In the end, you know you’re on the right track when you close your website or print book, and you can still see those signature pieces in your head.
One more point about your voice and this is my favorite part about being a consultant. When you have found your voice, you have context. Every time you do something, it now needs to be in line with your voice. Ah, strategy… it makes the world go round. When you are editing your website, it needs to be in line with your voice. When you are selecting images for your email promo, it needs to be in line with your voice. Your voice will make you make sense to clients. When you make sense, you are remembered and when you are remembered… you get hired.
One of the most important pieces of advice I ever got was from a career salesman. Though I never met him, we spoke several times on the phone. He was a consulting client of mine, but definitely not my typical job. He was looking for someone who knew the creative marketplace, someone to help him build a PDF to help him sell the idea behind his company. I knew from the references he made, he was probably in his 60s. His personality came to life over the phone, and in my head he became one of those all too familiar salesman characters from the movies. I’m not sure if he had an accent, but in my mind, he was Queens. Here’s what he said to me:
There’s a big difference between explaining something to someone and selling something to someone.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t share this piece of advice with my creative clients. This advice almost always comes up when we try to make sense of your business.
Let’s pause for a minute. Get in front of your computer and pull up your website. Grab your portfolio if it’s closer. Take a second and flip through the content. Now put it away. I want to ask you a question. Do you present your work as a sell? Most commercial artists see their websites as an archive of their greatest hits. It’s a place to show potential clients what you can do and what you’ve done. I know, what if you only get one shot to show this potential client your work? Don’t you want to put it all out there? Let them figure out what you’re capable of, what you could do for them. This isn’t a sell.
When a website or portfolio is a sell, it’s because there’s a strong voice in the business strategy. The voice says I’m a product shooter, and I’m all about masculine things. They might have everything from food, grooming products, sports gear, fashion accessories, and tech on their site, but everything is shot from that same voice. Don’t think of it as predictability because it’s more than that. This is about your vision resonating with a brand because your voice is what they are looking for. The ironic thing about what I’m saying is that when your work is strategic and calculated in the organization of the images, then the flow will feel very organic. The client doesn’t have to work hard to make sense of the work or of you. In fact, when they see your work, it feels like you understand them already. Clients today need a collaborator, not just a creative resource.
Your website and portfolio are a great place to start aligning your work to your voice. What about your logo? I know, when did a photographer start to need a logo? Well, we all live in a very branded world now and a logo can help you communicate your voice from the beginning. If you’re an illustrator working primarily with kid/family clients, don’t have a corporate looking logo. As a business, your marketing is your advertising campaign to your targeted marketplace. The most basic goal behind advertising is finding the sweet spot that makes a client go from wanting to needing your product or service. You can only do that when a customer makes an emotional connection with that brand.
Think about all your favorite brands. At some point, there was a moment when you believed these brands understood what you needed. Most people think the people behind the brand are like them and want the same things. Why wouldn’t you go with the phone or hotel or airline that feels in line with your aesthetics, your values, your beliefs. Now bring this idea closer to home. You are Target and you just aligned yourself with a progressive kids fashion designer. Now you’re ready to design the packaging, shoot a campaign, and build out a social media campaign around this line. Do you hire a solid, “I can do anything”, commercial artist to help you accomplish your marketing, or do you hire the one that appears to embrace the same aesthetic as your fashion designer? In fact, the people in the photos even look like the customers you’re trying to attract. Which photographer is the riskiest?
Making sense of your work can be a life long goal. It’s often hard to see the forest for the trees. Do yourself a favor and ask someone for help. Your peers are a great start, but often (even when they’re successful) they share a similar experience to you. You need to widen your network to really see your voice. Go to as many portfolio reviews as you can and go with a set of questions for the reviewers.
You’ll actually be doing these reviewers a favor. Most of them really don’t know what to say when they are looking at your book. Take charge of the moment. Don’t go into the review just thinking this person can hire me. Yes, it can happen, but it’s rare. And of course, take everything with a grain of salt. This reviewer is speaking from their personal needs and experience. There’s always a nugget in there, but sometimes you have to listen hard for it. Reps are also a great source of information, though most reps don’t really volunteer this info unless they’re interested in representing you. Find them at the portfolio reviews. They know the marketplace and they can be invaluable to your understanding where you fit.
Lastly, let’s talk about consultants. You can build, edit, and market yourself, many people do. If there is one part of this whole process where you want to splurge, it’s in understanding your voice as a commercial artist. The right consultant can fast track your career by years. You will benefit from their observations of the marketplace. If you’ve never had the luxury of talking about what you as an artist want and how your work comes together… it can be an amazing experience. Again, be smart about your time. Be clear about what you are looking for, and try and schedule a quick blind date. The chemistry has to be right. Most consultants will give you a free 5-10-minute call to see if it’s a good fit. Follow your instincts. Find someone that understands what you are trying to do.
The marketplace is made up of publishing, advertising, inhouse corporate, and design clients. Each of these segments has specific needs. Publishing is typically your online and offline publishing houses and magazines. Advertising covers ad agencies, PR, branding, and strategy companies. Design companies are graphic designers doing everything from websites to logos and catalogs. Corporate is the most newsworthy segment today. Corporate refers not to business culture in the office, but actually the brand’s in-house marketing and advertising departments. Your marketplace might be one of these segments or all of these segments.
Not that you need an excuse to go hang out at your local bookstore, but go hang out at your local bookstore. Seriously. Buy a coffee, so you don’t get the ol’ stink eye from the owner or the barista. Now make yourself comfortable at a table and grab a large stack of magazines. If you see yourself as only working in publishing, then focus on the stories and styles within each magazine. Go check out book covers if that’s more your thing. If you want to work across the segments, here’s your assignment:
Find the magazines in line with the subjects you shoot. Write down each magazine and then take notes of all the advertising you think you could or would like to have shot. After a couple of hours, you will have a pretty good target client list. I personally like to take pictures of all the ads with my phone, so I can keep them in my research.
Your target client list is important. Now let’s think about the needs of these kinds of clients. Publishing traditionally is about lead images or in-depth stories. Not to pigeon hole any client, but conceptual imagery, portraiture, editorial storytelling in one or many images are typically what they are looking for. Your advertising client can need almost any subject matter, but it’s important to note that production value is crucial to them. They need to know you can work with a team and produce, from scratch, what they need. Trends can sway them from authentic to polished, but in the end, the images need to be aspirational and connect with the end client’s lifestyle. Design clients are a little harder to pin down because their projects run the gamete. In the end, they aren’t too far off what publishing and advertising needs.
Then there’s corporate. Because of a little thing called social media, the corporate segment has gotten very interesting lately. Social media kind of snuck upon us. We all embraced it as a way to be social with our friends and family. Now it’s also a way for brands to be social with customers. Social media is a form of media just like print and broadcast, and for some target audiences, it’s the most successful form of marketing. Why do you need to know this? Because the corporate segment needs your content to engage with their customer. We’re seeing inhouse marketing departments grow to cover social media, email marketing, blog content, social advertising, in-store displays, packaging, and website content. To complicate things, the publishing, advertising, and design segments are all trying to get a piece of the social media market. That advertising Art Director might be looking at you as someone they can hire on a retainer basis to create social media content for one of their clients.
Ok. I hope I haven’t lost anyone. We now have a voice, a business strategy, and a client target. Next up are your business tools.
Do you still need a print book? The answer is yes, but you don’t need as many. When a client is seriously considering you for a job, they want to see your book. When your rep goes to visit a client, they need a book. When you go to portfolio reviews, you need a book. And if you get invited to stop by an agency, you need a book. Some folks have moved onto iPads which is a good move if you do video. Clients still love to see your images in print, and there are never technical difficulties with a print book. Make at least one big, beautiful, no plastic sleeve, full-bleed, to die for the book. It won’t disappoint. Again, an editorial artist will probably have more pages than an artist looking for advertising work. The ideal book is probably somewhere around 30-40 pages. I tend to go with an edit that isn’t exactly what they’ve seen on your website.
I’ve got my own personal style of building up to great images in the curation. It’s like making the perfect mixed tape. You have to find the flow. Start with a great image, and follow it with a couple even better, then you can relax a little. Peak with a great image and then steady again, end with something awesome, don’t save all the best for last. I love editing work. Often times, it takes someone with no relationship to the images to do the edit. It’s hard to look at your own images and disconnect yourself from the experience of making those images. You can get tired of your best images and sometimes you don’t see the real value in something that is too new. When a consultant edits your work, it’s not just about what images are the best. They are trying to find the images that feel timely to our marketplace and are most likely going to hit a chord with the client. The presentation of the work, the way the viewer is carried through the stories, the connections and relationships you play off of when certain images lay side by side… when done right, it can make a big difference.
Now, on to your social media. You really need at least an Instagram and Facebook account. I could write a novel on why and how you need to do social media, but let’s save that for another guide. What you need to know is clients are looking at social. Don’t forget social is driving a big need for content in the marketplace. If you do social well, you’re showing clients you understand the medium, you know how to engage with a social audience and you have followers that might get exposed to the brand you’re working with. Use your hashtags. They place your images in galleries, so clients can find them easily. If the photo editor at Food and Wine looks at their Instagram feed every night before they go to bed, how long do you think it’s going to take before they start to consider the Instagram artist they’re crushing on for an assignment? As for Facebook, I hear all the time that clients do use it to either research a specific photographer or look for a certain type of photographer. You don’t have to post on Facebook everyday, but you need to be present when clients are looking for you.
When discussing your business tools, your most important one is your website. We’ve asked our friends at PhotoShelter to jump in and share their thoughts on how a website today should function:
Given the popularity of platforms like Instagram, it’s tempting to believe that photographer websites are a relic of the pre-smartphone era. Nothing could be further from the truth. Websites still play a key role in marketing and provide a medium where the content creator controls how information is presented – no pay-to-play, no privacy intrusions, and no risk of losing your audience overnight because of an algorithm change.
Because of SEO, content on websites can be easily found unlike the stream-orientation of most social media platforms. And a single good piece of content can bring in an unsolicited and unknown audience for years. Finally, a website with good workflow tools can help you manage your clients by providing controlled access, downloads, and sales with a consistent, branded look-and-feel. Bottom line: a website is an indispensable part of any marketing effort.
The most important function of the About page is as a marketing tool that helps assuage any concerns a prospective client might have. A couple of things are important here. First, it doesn’t need to read like a resumè (many clients won’t care where you went to school), but listing past clients goes a long way in legitimizing your work in the eyes of others. Second, make your contact information (phone number and email) readily available. Photo editors and art directors routinely share this as their number one piece of advice. Don’t waste their time by making it difficult to find – or even by hiding behind a contact form. The contact form can also give a cold, impersonal feeling which is something you want to avoid in today’s world of relationship-based marketing.
Finally, use the about page as an opportunity to convey your brand. If it’s quirky, you can be a little quirky in your “About Me” statement. If you’re looking for more serious clients, you should be a little more formal. Treat the page as though it’s the 2nd impression (after your photos themselves) and — as with any other marketing tool — give some thought to what you want to convey as well as what will impress the clients you want to attract.
The inclusion of social media and sharing icons on your website isn’t a silver bullet to going viral or rapidly boosting your following. On the other hand, they do provide the user with easily recognizable ways to either 1) engage you on other platforms, or 2) share your content with others. Your social presence, of course, can also give them a better sense for your overall work. So, getting them to your Instagram account can be a helpful marketing strategy.
Marketing in the past 5 years or so has emphasized “authenticity.” Even though authenticity can be manufactured, there is still value in showing clients that you’re a real person with varied interests. Personal work is one way to highlight altruistic, quirky, or passion projects – and personal work can often lead to paid commissions. You can label it as such in your website’s navigation or even give it a name like a photographer Tim MacPherson, who used ordinary household items for his “Kids at Home and Play,” which led to multiple commissions and a wealth of press coverage.
In 2016, mobile internet uses surpassed desktop use for the first time. It was a momentous inflection point in the way we access information and underscored the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. One can now safely assume that clients don’t mind the first interaction with your photos at a smaller size. They may even prefer to see them that way if the images will be used for a mobile-focused campaign.
The term “responsive” refers to a website with a design that changes (and is optimized) for different viewport sizes. For example, a desktop browser might have a landscape-oriented viewport that is 1280 pixels wide. By contrast, the typical smartphone has a viewport around 320 pixels wide. Navigation conventions that work on the desktop (e.g. multiple links to top-level items) are often compressed into a “hamburger” icon for mobile. Similarly, a mobile-friendly site will serve less data, thereby speeding up page load times while decreasing data utilization.
Google provides a simple tool to gauge the mobile-readiness of your website:
Most modern template-based platforms like PhotoShelter offer responsive, mobile-friendly websites. Older sites (e.g. Flash-based, older WordPress themes) don’t offer a mobile-friendly experience which can lead to frustrating user experiences for your clients and could make them leave your site before they view any content.
Given the numerous Flash-free website services that exist for photographers, there’s no excuse for maintaining an obsolete, risk-laden Flash website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a broad term that encompasses ways to improve your visibility within search engines. Maybe you want your website to show up in the #1 position when someone searches for “Syracuse Photojournalist” or “Best fashion photographer Dallas” – you can use SEO techniques to improve your website’s position in search engine results.
A more complete look at SEO would fill a book, but suffice it to say that there are things that your website can/should automate (e.g. ensuring that info like photo captions are properly labeled as a specific type of metadata), and things that you need to do while publishing content on the web (e.g. adding captions to your photos). Even with tools like Google Images, the search is still biased towards the text. This is often at odds with the way that photographers like to organize and design their website. Using captions is a means to boost SEO visibility, but we also still like the use of blogs.
A blog helps you create rich textual information alongside your photos, and enhances their visibility to search engines. You can also use keywords in the text that you think people might use as they’re searching for something related to your work (e.g. Vogue March 2017 cover, Park Hyatt Tokyo wedding). Topics can range from behind-the-scenes content to personal work — even tear sheets or a recent project.
At the end of the day, your website is most powerful if it is organized to reflect your strengths in a particular photography niche. You must know what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to if you want to bring in real business. If your specialty is not clear to you (and reflected as such on your site), it certainly won’t be clear to someone visiting you for the first time.
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a numbers game. You have to keep hitting clients until you get them on the right day at the right time. Your first goal should be to get on that client’s radar, then it’s about getting on their shortlist. Start marketing as soon as you can. Let clients see you grow, get used to your work, and connect with you. Consistency is the key to marketing. The consistency is in the timing. You have to be consistent about how often and when you send out your marketing. When we talk about a marketing campaign, we usually think of it as 12 months with 6 cycles. We like every 2 months because it’s about the right spacing between cycles. You also have to be consistent with your messaging. Remember your voice? You want to craft a message from your voice and stick with it. Don’t forget, your message needs to be relevant to the client target list we built back in chapter three.
Successful marketing is about multiple touch-points. Each touch-point is a way for you to reach out to a client. Some marketers believe you need at least 3-4 touch-points per cycle to connect to the client. What are our touch-points? One of the easiest, least expensive, and most effective ways to market is email promos. Save yourself some time and buy a mailing list. No one has the perfect mailing list of creative professionals, but buying access to a database will save you hours and hours of time tracking down these brands. Be honest with yourself, you might convince yourself you can do the research as you start your first marketing campaign, but you know you’re not doing to continue to do this each time you market.
Plus, think of your marketing in two waves. You’ve got the target list you’re keeping a close eye on, but you should also have a wider net too. This larger list is still relevant to your business. By looking at your target list, you can set the parameter within a database to find more companies like the ones you are targeting. Your target list might be only 50 clients, but your secondary list could be as large as 2,000-3,000 clients.
The email promo is the only form of marketing that is trackable. When a client opens or even clicks on your promo, we know something is happening. A great design can elevate your work. There’s no rule to how many images you need on an email promo.
Again, it depends on what you think the client should see. Two images feel like a nice balance, but I’ve definitely been involved in campaigns based around the idea of one powerful image. If you’re an editorial storyteller, there’s an argument for a series. These days, you might want to stress the fact that you do multimedia. GIFs are very easy to embed into the design, and they tend to get the client’s attention.
Direct mail covers everything from postcards to specialty print projects. I have to say, as successful as an email promo can be, I’ve never heard of a client printing out the email and sticking it to their wall. That said, you can cover a lot more clients via email. I like to save my direct mail for the target clients as well as the ones that seem to be warming up to my email campaign.
A direct mail piece is the perfect second course for a client nibbling on your email promo. Your average direct mailer is a 6×9 postcard, which is totally acceptable. Of course, those of you not wanting to look like everyone else might want to step up your game. I once heard a client say, “I love to get a promo with substance. I can walk into a meeting and literally throw the booklet on the conference table. That gets my art directors’ attention.” Personally, my goal is to help my clients create something worthy of sitting on a client’s office shelf or hang on their wall. I know this is sacred ground, so it means the promo needs to be unique, creative, and smart. If you can get in the cubical, there’s a really good chance that the client might interact with it on a daily basis. That’s a daily reminder you exist.
Let’s go back to emails. So I first mentioned email promos (epromos). These are mostly about your images. It’s nicely designed, hopefully, there’s a couple of call to actions, and all of your contact info. Now, let’s talk about personal emails. The leads you get from your epromos, followed up with a great direct mailer, can turn this client into a warm lead. Now it’s time to develop a relationship. A personal email introduces yourself. Done right, it shows you are ambitious and have done your homework. You want to show this client you want to work with them. Tell them what you think of their brand/company. Send them a little love, and be sincere. Address them by name. Maybe you even mention something specific they did like a magazine story or a great commercial.
We are trying to make them feel comfortable about writing you back. Now, don’t say “I know you opened my email”, because that’s super creepy. Tell them you’ve been marketing to them recently, and you’d like to know if there is a better way to update them on your new work. Maybe you even ask them if they ever take face to face meetings. All good stuff. This personal email can be sent from your email account or maybe try LinkedIn. If you contact them through LinkedIn, please don’t ask them to look at your work and give you feedback. It’s not good LinkedIn etiquette. You should always send the epromos to their work email address.
All of the above touch-points are about you sending out a message to the client, it’s also important to be in the places they look for artists. Sourcebooks and creative communities are great ways to be listed. Some are free and some come at a cost. Some are just websites and others involve sourcebooks and catalogs. Being a part of these sites can help you get in front of clients. If your epromos and direct mailers are working, they might actually say to themselves, wait a minute… I know this guy – when they see you in the sourcebook. Of course, at Agency Access we love Found. Found is an invite-only group marketing platform for artists that offers both online and offline marketing, portfolio reviews and beautifully produced printed promotions including the Found sourcebooks. If Found isn’t what you’re looking for, check out:
I mentioned social media as a business tool, but it is also a touch point. If you are lucky enough to be in a client’s feed, you have the opportunity to connect with them on a daily basis. Remember not to make social media an isolated experience. I think we all did that at first. These days, the idea is to drive your Instagram audience to your website. Think of your site as a beautiful destination. Your social media acts as the road leading to your site. Use your social to show your newest work. It’s a great way for clients to get a quick peek. Tease them with an image and then push them back to your site to see more. In your social bio, list your web address. Pinterest is also a great way for clients to find you. Often it’s because the magazines you shoot for are posting your stories, but you can build boards for your own images.
One day a client of mine got a call from Target. We had barely started marketing, so even though I had hoped they found her through the promo we sent them, it was probably something else they had seen. She had no rep at the time, so we knew that wasn’t it either. Two days into the shoot, my client asked Target how they found her. Their answer was Pinterest. The in-house Target team had spent months developing a new brand strategy for one of their food products. During their research, they had built mood boards to inspire their strategy. One day, they stood back to look at their research and noticed a few of their favorite images were from the same photographer. In the end, they tracked her down and hired her on the spot. Pinterest is quickly becoming a favorite for visual searches. If you are on Pinterest, you are in the place creatives start their creative process. Like my client, she eventually became their number one choice because they had unknowingly built their strategy around her.
In a nutshell, this guide should help you accomplish three major tasks. First, do a little housekeeping by tightening your brand and position throughout your business tools. Secondly, make sure you’re in the places that clients look for commercial artists. Clients like to make their jobs easier. They like to go to sourcebooks or creative communities to be exposed to all kinds of work. Find the places that work within your budget. The third thing is to push out a consistent marketing message across all of your channels. If you market well, your first real success is getting on the client’s radar. That’s when the fun begins. Once they are taking notice, they start to pay attention. They’re trying to see if you’re really all that. Every client has a shortlist. This shortlist represents people they like to work with, people that make their lives less stressful. It might be five or 25 people on this list. When you see clients reacting to a promo or post, consider this a warm lead. The warm leads need to become relationships. Don’t stalk these clients. Don’t call them up and ask them if they have jobs for you. Whenever you reach out, be sure to have a reason. Maybe it’s a new shoot you’re excited about or you won a contest or your latest job is out on news-stands. All of these are great reasons to drop someone a line.
Also, don’t forget to go to networking events. Mingle. Be social in an old school kind of way. Panel discussions, creative lectures, art shows… all of these get you to face to face with a potential client. Don’t bring your portfolio with you unless it’s one of those events. You also don’t want to be the guy that corners someone trying to show images on your iPhone. However, giving them a postcard is totally appropriate.
Take a deep breath. Pace yourself. Do your homework. Show that you’re passionate about your work, often-times it can be contagious. We think the article (The Photographer’s Survival Guide to Marketing) was very helpful for you.