How to attract customers
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Old 10-11-2013   #1
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Default How to attract customers

Hello fellow camels,
Thanks for the add to the group. I am a fairly new photographer-1 year and having a really hard time attracting paying clients. I live in Florida and my area has tons of photographers that offer $25.00 photo sessions with 10-20 images on CD with print release.
I mainly do infants, children and maternity. Have went to almost all of the daycares and they all respond that they already have a photographer. I have recently offered a few free photo shoots to expecting parents and hopefully they will keep their word and let me photograph their little ones after they make their appearance into this world.
With my free shoot I take several images and after editing give them 5 photos on CD. Please don't shoot me for offering a few free shoots. lol Just trying to get my name out there and hopefully gain a few customers.
Thanks in advance for any tips and suggestions.
Debbie

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Old 10-11-2013   #2
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Chamber of commerce is a good place to start networking with other business that offer services and products to your target clients. If your good, got your ducks in a row, and have a good business ideas some businesses might partner on an advertizing campaign that could benefit both businesses. Scratch my back if you scratch mine....

Have a website? Business cards? get out and talk to people! Face to face advertising and give them one of your cards or flyers personally. Baby and family fairs and expos are also great places to rent a booth and get the word out!
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Old 10-11-2013   #3
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Default Re: How to attract customers

We are in a hopefully ending age of the cheap give away your products world of photography. When you break it down those changing 25 bucks an hour arn't making any money at all. If you have 3 hours total into a shoot, which isn't all that much with set up take down post processing etc., you are making 8.33 per hour - less then min. wage. Then if you consider about half the fee goes to taxes and other expenses you don't even have enough to buy yourself lunch.

The problem is offering free shoots is people come to expect free shoots from you. You do one then their friend calls wanting a free shoot, and then their friend and their.... and on it goes.
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Old 10-11-2013   #4
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Default Re: How to attract customers

I don't see anything wrong with free shoots for a newbie - but I think there has to be a published ending date. For instance, ask on your Facebook page for, say, 5 children to photograph on such and such date for your portfolio, and post your fees and prices as well, stating that after that portfolio building day, these prices will be in effect, call for appointment, etc. Of course you'd have to work that around to fit your needs, but the point I'm trying to make is to publish a date for your prices to kick in, and then no one can do the whining thing "but you did HERS free!"
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Old 10-11-2013   #5
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Default Re: How to attract customers

I did shoot for free, kind of. It was more of a trade. They get images and I get to use them in my portfolio or whatever to promote my work. IMO, you need to have a portfolio to show potential clients your work. At first I didn't have a website so I loaded pictures on my smart phone to show examples of my work when I approached possible clients for trade. It's important for them to see what you will produce.

You really have to hustle to promote, market, network, and brand which are all important. I've seen some photographers that do mediocre work but get a lot of work to do. It's because they hustle and their hard works pays off, most of the time anyways. I've also seen good photographers that don't get work because they don't hustle or know what to do business wise.

Well wishes and welcome to the camel
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Old 10-11-2013   #6
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Free can be bad or it can really bite you in the butt later. I tried to meet myself (and my friends) in the middle and just undercharge, rather than not charging at all. And by that I mean $100 for a maternity shoot, not $25. Yikes! It really killed me too because I gave her photos that I could have made bank on 77 shots, but I don't skimp on what I give people.

The friends who really want to SUPPORT me have done so but refusing less than actual cost. I show them my packages, they pick one and we're good. It's a blessing to have friends and family like that in my life.

And then on another note I offer to certain people to shoot for free, when it's just natural. Right now I'm trying to build a birth portfolio so I offered friends and family (and strangers) a free birth shoot with a discount on maternity pics. Then that leaves the door open to getting them back for newborn photos!

It's an up/down process to getting clients and right now I'm in a down, so I'm targeting seniors for a while instead. It's a great time of year to get those done and back in time for yearbook, etc. Gotta change with the times; go with the flow.
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Old 10-13-2013   #7
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Hey Debbie ! Best wishes for a really successful career. To get there, I strongly suggest you stop giving your work away and meantime, raise your prices to about $300 per session. If you want to be a professional, charge accordingly to distance yourself from the $25 crowd. If you don't believe your work is good enough to support that kind of fee, then wait and practice on family members while developing a flexible marketing plan (in writing please) and refer to it frequently.

In addition, giving your work away places you at the more shallow end of the photographic pool. Every wannabe pro trying to get their feet wet tries to do that by undercutting their competition, those $25 shooters. That's below K-mart, Walmart and in terms of time and equipment, I think just about lower than the local photo booth at the drug store that delivers 6 shots on a strip of stamp-sized images for a dollar. At $25 no one will have to shoot you for undercutting them, you're doing it to yourself. Those rates and the freebies, as E said, will stick with you. Word will get around you were shooting for free and people will expect you to do the same for them, for free. Moving to another state to get away from that reputation is a good solution.

Look like a professional biz with the web site, biz cards, references, a strong portfolio of photographic work that reflects what you want to be getting paid for, be prepared to offer different venues for location shoots, have the simplest of equipment to do the work and deliver it in a timely manner and please get some liability insurance. Keep a regular set of accounting records, take a class in business law and accounting.

Build your business over time. Don't quit your day job just yet. Join the local chapter of a professional association and get to know the members who, are also your competition. Put your membership afilliation(s) on your biz cards. Print brochures offering services, not coupons for freebies. Look like a pro and conduct yourself like one. THAT will help bring you new clients.

Pro associations will probably bring you referrals at some point. Some pros might let you rent their studios on an hourly basis to shoot portraits. But how you present yourself to fellow members will largely determine that. If they hear you're undercutting them, you'll get nothing from them other than a soiled largely irreparable reputation.

Being a member of a chamber of commerce is ok but probably won't get you much work other than the low-paying variety. They can sense new blood and near-desperation. If you join, charge for your work accordingly. They have established businesses, they should be able to afford to pay. OTOH, you can't afford to work for chump change. Learn what the traffic will bear and UP your fees. THAT looks professional.

Lastly, you want to attract clients, market yourself where others in the $25 range AREN'T marketing. Go to local college bulletin boards and kiosks with posters/flyers advertising your services that they can use a credit card to pay for say location portraits at school to send to their families, headshots for modeling, shots with their significant others, etc. Cook up some shooting locations in advance.

Get a book called Guerrilla Marketing

The other MUST have book, IMO, is this one:

Meanwhile, don't sell yourself short and take no prisoners.
Run it like a real business. Good luck.
Mark
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Old 10-13-2013   #8
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Debbie
Remember this, if you don't put a value on your work, then no one else will!
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Old 10-13-2013   #9
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Default Re: How to attract customers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Feldstein View Post
Look like a professional biz with the web site, biz cards, ...
So what that means is you have your own registered domain name and web site provider. That's not one of those free services but your own DirectDomains.com -*myphotobusiness.com is for sale! site. They cost in the neighborhood of not very much per month. They will also include a number of email addresses that you sent up - joe@myphotobusiness.com. Nothing says amateur in an email address like joephotobusiness@yahoo.com so having your own address at your own domain tells the public you are a serious professional.
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Old 10-13-2013   #10
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Smile Re: How to attract customers

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackhawk View Post
Debbie
Remember this, if you don't put a value on your work, then no one else will!
Boy, ain't THAT the truth !

A couple of other things to think about while getting started in this biz. You should have some working capital to get you through the start-up phase. That'll help you cover expenses without resorting to the more desperate marketing tactics of slashing prices and giving work away. Once you get rolling with regular gigs, be sure to replenish your capital in the form of savings accounts to get you through the lean times cause there will likely be plenty.

In that respect, even once you start drawing customers, having fall-back bread and butter work is important whether in photography or some other income. And unless your phone is ringing off the hook with assignments, you will probably spend 90% of your time marketing your talents.
That's one reason to set a $300 per hour (or thereabouts) price on your time. It helps cover you for all the time you're not shooting, though not very long.
Mark


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