Wondering how

spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinnerRegistered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
edited April 28, 2016 in Mind Your Own Business
Greetings,
I am wondering how to grow a photography business in the San Diego area. Have done several paid shoots but want to grow a greater client base. Have traffic on my site, but what else should could I do. New to San Diego as a photographer.

Comments

  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayRegistered Users Posts: 2,294 Major grins
    edited April 25, 2016
    It would help to know what kind of photography you do.

    However, there are a couple of things. Make sure your portfolio is specific to the type of photography you do. Make sure you know who your target audience is. Get your business plan together. Make sure you have the proper insurance (I cannot stress that enough). Having the proper equipment to get the job done.

    Once you have that, you'll create a plan to reach that target audience. That may mean using social media or direct ads or business groups like the chamber of commerce or all of these.

    The most effective way is word of mouth. Do good work, exceed the needs of your clients and your business will grow quickly.
    Steve

    Website
  • spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
    edited April 25, 2016
    Thank you. I seem to have traffic but don't get many inquiries. Have done paid work but would like to do more. Does something like AdWords work on google. Have tried FB and not received much from there. I am kind of all over the place as far as what kind of photography I do. Sort of settling at product for now.
  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAAdministrators Posts: 13,907 moderator
    edited April 26, 2016
    I seem to have traffic but don't get many inquiries. Have done paid work but would like to do more. Does something like AdWords work on google. Have tried FB and not received much from there. I am kind of all over the place as far as what kind of photography I do. Sort of settling at product for now.
    When you say you seem to have traffic, where is that traffic? I don't think that simply publishing a web site will drive business; that relies too heavily on prospective clients finding your site.

    Have you followed Cygnus Studio's recommendations?

    When you say you're all over the place as far as type of photography, how do you present this on your web site? Adding a link to your site here might help get you comments on the site - but again, publishing a site is not enough to drive business.

    --- Denise
  • spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
    edited April 26, 2016
    Have traffic on site. And know it is probably helpful to visit businesses that are in line with what I want to do. Yes, have followed Cygnus Studio's recommendations.

    My site is here: www.intimatelyacquaintedphotography.com

    All over the place meaning I can do a wide range of work.

    I understand a site is not everything.
  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAAdministrators Posts: 13,907 moderator
    edited April 26, 2016
    Have traffic on site. And know it is probably helpful to visit businesses that are in line with what I want to do. Yes, have followed Cygnus Studio's recommendations.

    My site is here: www.intimatelyacquaintedphotography.com

    All over the place meaning I can do a wide range of work.

    I understand a site is not everything.
    Your site doesn't say "product photographer" to me. It looks like a site to share photos as opposed to a site to drive business. Your "About" page is the only place where you attempt to share pricing information, but it looks like an afterthought (to me).

    Your keyword page (http://www.intimatelyacquaintedphotography.com/keyword) is a mess - repeating keywords with different numbers after the words does not help. I suspect these came from file names; make sure to turn keywording based on file names off. To do this, go to Account Settings, Discovery, Search, set Filename Keywording to OFF.

    How have you tried to drive traffic to your site? Simply publishing a site on the web does not work as a marketing tool.

    --- Denise
  • spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
    edited April 26, 2016
    Ok, thank you. I have about 6000 views this month and have gotten business through it. Just wanted to know a away to attain more business.
  • spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
    edited April 26, 2016
    I don't know anything about marketing. So any insight would be helpful.
  • spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
    edited April 26, 2016
    And not sure I understand, isn't a site suppose to show people your portfolio and then if they like the style they inquire? Aren't keywords from the photos helpful, understand them repeating is probably not right.
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayRegistered Users Posts: 2,294 Major grins
    edited April 26, 2016
    You really need to tighten up your website. It's wonderful to show lots of pretty pictures, but it doesn't tell any visitor what you do and how you do it. I've made my living in product work the last two and half decades and I can tell you that prospective clients want to see products in your portfolio. Not flowers, not bugs, not fireworks, not landscapes, not art, just products.

    In your about section, you have "I prefer small weddings, engagements, families, child-life, events, and capturing products for brochures or online sales!"

    This is not what product people want to hear.

    Product photography is for all intents and purposes, baby photography.

    You are wanting to photograph their baby. They have spent countless hours and dollars developing this baby, so that is the most important thing in their life. If it looks like you don't respect that, they are not going to hire you.

    You can forget about keywords and metadata and website traffic. Doesn't mean anything.

    You can have 60,000 visitors a day to your website, but if no one is hiring you, what's it worth? Your website is only to showcase your portfolio and the ability for people to contact you. That's it.

    So first thing:

    What products do you want to shoot? Be specific. That doesn't mean you are going to be 100% limited to that product, but you need to show some dedication. Remember, this is baby photography.

    Then, make a portfolio with those products. It doesn't matter how good you are at landscapes, you're not selling a service for landscape photography. Your port is your body of work, not a collection of images.

    Then determine who your clients will be. Small businesses, corporations, magazines, government, etc.

    Are you doing editorial or commercial work? You must understand that they are similar but different, and if you want to be successful, you need to be able to do both and showcase it.

    Where are these clients? If you are offering a service to clients that are not near you, you are going to have to move. So choose wisely.

    Remember that product work is business to business. This is much different than dealing with individuals who buy images based on how it makes them feel.

    You need to know who the clients are that can use your images.

    Think about the tools (gear) you have. Do you have the right tools? Nothing kills a career faster than taking a job you can't fulfill. Product photography is not cheap. If you think that you're going to jump into this market with 1 camera body and a few lenses, you really need to consider something else.

    Now for the fun part.

    There are 4 basic clients out there.

    1. Direct client
    2. Marcom
    3. Graphic designers
    4. Ad agencies

    Your portfolio needs to show that you can shoot products that match the needs of these types of clients.

    Can you shoot to layout? Do you have a team of assistants (stylists, models) Do you have the props or know where to rent them?

    Now for more fun questions.

    What is your brand? Does your logo represent that brand? What's your color pallet? What's your vision?

    For getting clients, you have a couple of options.

    Direct mail, email, social media, business groups, social groups, etc.


    Now all these things should be part of your business plan. What has worked for us may not work for you and vice versa.

    So my advice is first develop your business plan.
    Develop your brand.
    Develop the correct portfolio.
    Start reaching out to clients.

    If this were easy, everyone would be doing it.
    Steve

    Website
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayRegistered Users Posts: 2,294 Major grins
    edited April 26, 2016
    Now this will be far more information than you originally asked for, but will be helpful. Asking where to find more clients may seem like a simple question, but there is so much more to the answer than simply do this or do that. So I thought that I would add more to my last answer and see if that provides an easier way for you to learn how to build a client base.

    This will probably lead to more questions and that is a good thing. You need to begin thinking in new ways and designing an implementation plan.

    First thing:

    Before you do anything else, protect your business first.
    Get legal advice from a lawyer, not the internet.
    Get financial advice from an accountant, not the internet.

    Insurance:

    I cannot stress this enough, especially if you live in the U.S. where suing people is the new American dream. Minimum, 2 million dollars in liability and 1 million dollars in Indemnification. Don’t forget equipment insurance while you have that credit card out.


    So here is a more detailed thought that I’ll share with you. Take it as you will, but I’ve been doing this successfully for a very long time now.

    Business plan: If you don’t have one, make one.

    This will include your starting plan, your goal, your income needs, your inventory needs, your other start up requirements such as insurance, legal fees, business structure, etc. What services you offer, your market analysis, market segmentation, service analysis, competition and buying patterns. Your marketing plan, sales strategy, sales forecast, etc. Then comes the financial end, startup costs, operation costs, liabilities, assets, etc.

    Now that you have your business plan together, it’s time to work on your brand. This is far more than just a catchy looking logo. Your brand represents your business, your style, your color palette, etc.

    Now you work on your portfolio.

    This is where you showcase your images, not just put some random sample together and call it a book.

    You can build your port through personal projects or pro-bono work, but treat each and every shoot as if someone was paying your 10 grand for it.

    Determine who could use your work:

    Brands, services, small businesses, magazines, catalogs, etc.

    Make sure your images reflect the type of businesses that you will be going after. It’s great that you can photograph bottles with the best of them, but that isn’t going to help you much if you’re going after service companies like lawn care or manufacturers of auto parts.

    Yes, even those who specialize in one or two areas get jobs outside of their specialty. But those clients come to you, not the other way around. So focus on something and be the best at it.

    Whatever specific type of product you shoot has 6 or more potential client areas.

    Take fishing gear as an example. Your six areas might be magazines, catalogs, charter fishing services, vacation guides, travel advertising, and outdoor equipment stores. I’m sure that you could come up with more examples if you know anything about fishing gear and who might use that equipment.

    Now whatever you decide to focus on, make sure those potential clients are somewhat near where you live. If you want to focus on winter activities and you live in south Florida you may need to move or rethink your plan.

    Now once you make a name for yourself, clients will ship their stuff to you or fly your happy butt to where it is needed.

    Gear:

    Despite what you might think, commercial photography is NOT cheap. Basic gear does not work here. While there are certainly some aspects like; how many lenses you might need seems simple, the extra crap will kill you. Any idea how much good acrylic ice cubes cost? Now multiply that by a few hundred pieces. Basically you end up with enough fake ice that you could have bought that new Corvette you’ve always wanted.

    C stands are not cheap, and guess what? You need more than you have. Clamps are relatively cheap, but again, you need more than you have. Acrylic sheets are not cheap and you burn through them like candy if you’re working hard. Flashes and strobes burn out, so have plenty of backups there.

    If that isn’t enough to scare you, medium format now rules the product world. Have you priced those digital backs lately? Now multiply that by 2, because you always need a backup.

    Scared yet?

    Now I know what you’re thinking, you get by with that little consumer or prosumer camera until you get enough clients to buy something bigger and better. That sounds good in theory, until your client or worse yet the magazine/catalog they want to run their ad in turns out to be pixel peepers or want to crop your image down severely. 80 megapixels leaves a lot of room to crop.

    Nothing is worse than taking a job you can’t do. You cannot rely on being able to “rent” the gear. Stuff happens, deadlines can be short, weather happens, and if you take a job without having the gear on hand, your business is going to suffer.

    Happy clients will share your name if asked, unhappy clients will tell everyone they meet.

    Okay, now that you’ve been scared, let’s move onto to clients.

    Make a list of all your potential clients within a 50 or 100 mile range from your studio. This will include direct clients, designers, public relation offices, marcoms, and eventually ad agencies.

    Now that you have that list, start doing some research. Where do they get their images? You would be surprised how many people will tell you if you simply ask. Look at the images they are using and be sure you can exceed what they are currently using. It doesn’t help if you can only match the quality they are already getting.

    Make sure your port matches the kind of images/products of the businesses that you are hoping to obtain as clients.

    Some companies (especially the smaller ones) you can walk in and begin a conversation with the people who make decisions. Ask them about their photography and offer to submit your port for review.
    Gatherings like the chamber of commerce mixer is also a great way of meeting small business owners. Trade shows, etc.

    For bigger companies, you’ll need to get a little more creative. More research is needed. Do they handle their own marketing? Who’s in charge of that decision? Art director? Art buyer? Designer? It could be any type of title, but you need to know if you wish to reach the right person.

    Graphic designers are probably the easiest companies to get your feet wet as they handle advertising materials for lots of different companies and use a lot of images. Do some research and find out who to speak to. Send in your book and be sure that you can deliver on a schedule, trust me it will be fast.

    Small local/regional magazines are also very easy to get into, but the pay might buy you dinner. However, you can fill out a port really fast this way. Again a little research on who to submit to and you’re off and running. (don’t forget e mags)

    Ad agencies are by far the toughest to get into, but the money is fantastic. Until you’re crap is 100% together, don’t look into it. 1 failed project and you’ll be putting out resumes.

    None of this is something new or something I created; building any business follows the same principles. Offer the best service you can, offer the best product you can, deliver on time, build relationships, and exceed the needs of your clients.

    Do not be afraid of social media. You can your images in front of the biggest companies in the world just by posting on their facebook or other social site. More than likely it won’t get you the job, but you never know if they or someone else who follows their postings might like it.

    The goal is to get your images in front of as many people as possible, and your website isn’t going to be that. You need to get off the couch and meet potential clients face to face. When on the couch, you need to be looking for ways to contact potential clients. Email, facebook, twitter, whatever it takes.

    If you tell yourself marketing is too hard or sucks too much or whatever, you will fail.

    Other things:

    Depending on how busy you are, copyright every image. Now there are exceptions that will need to be addressed in your contracts about those off times where you’ll sell/give the copyright to the client, but everything else needs to be sent in for a copyright. It’s just a business expense; don’t get caught up in the little fees.
    Steve

    Website
  • Hikin' MikeHikin' Mike Walkin' like a Penguin! Atwater, CaRegistered Users Posts: 5,414 Major grins
    edited April 26, 2016
  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAAdministrators Posts: 13,907 moderator
    edited April 27, 2016
    Now this will be far more information than you originally asked for, but will be helpful. Asking where to find more clients may seem like a simple question, but there is so much more to the answer than simply do this or do that. So I thought that I would add more to my last answer and see if that provides an easier way for you to learn how to build a client base.
    I agree with Hikin' Mike - your two posts provide a huge amount of information based on real experience. What an awesome set of posts!

    --- Denise
  • AceCo55AceCo55 Aussie Grinner Registered Users Posts: 949 Major grins
    edited April 27, 2016
    +100 bowdown.gif
    Steve - those last two posts of yours should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to "become a pro" - no matter what genre.
    You have provided a huge amount of very detailed, very specific strategies and advice ... absolutely brilliant!!!! thumb.gif
    My opinion does not necessarily make it true. What you do with my opinion is entirely up to you.
    www.acecootephotography.com
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayRegistered Users Posts: 2,294 Major grins
    edited April 27, 2016
    Great information, Steve!
    I agree with Hikin' Mike - your two posts provide a huge amount of information based on real experience. What an awesome set of posts!

    --- Denise
    AceCo55 wrote: »
    +100 bowdown.gif
    Steve - those last two posts of yours should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to "become a pro" - no matter what genre.
    You have provided a huge amount of very detailed, very specific strategies and advice ... absolutely brilliant!!!! thumb.gif


    Thank you all iloveyou.gif

    I'm a firm believer that each time another photographer becomes successful, we all benefit.
    Steve

    Website
  • spinningstillspinningstill Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 11 Big grins
    edited April 28, 2016
    Thank you all iloveyou.gif

    I'm a firm believer that each time another photographer becomes successful, we all benefit.

    Thank you Steve. So much great insightful information.
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