You might be ready to dive head-first into personal brand photography, but that doesn’t mean a flood of clients will come.
How do you find customers and, perhaps more importantly, how do you find recurring clients that keep your book full? The uncertainty of one-time clients is a little nerve-wracking for most of us photographers.
Come along as I walk you through my process for finding my ideal client and building my brand photography business.
1. Who Is Your Ideal Client?
Only you will know your ideal client. Here are a few prompts to get you started in the right direction, so you can narrow down your options:
- Who do you love working with? What types of images make your heart sing? Most of my clients are in a similar space, making it easy for me to market to them all in one fell swoop.
- Go through your client list and figure out who you like working with. Rank your clients by who is paying you the most and who you like working with the most. I’ll be honest, who you like working with the most needs to take priority over those who pay you the most. If the payment doesn’t outweigh the problems, it might be time to let that client go.
- Think about the type of business owner and business you want to work with. Younger owners, more established businesses, type of business, type of industry, etc.
- What are your strengths? What type of business would benefit from your strengths? This is a good indication of the type of business you should aim for.
2. What are you saying to your ideal client? In other words, what is your messaging?
Your messaging needs to be clear and consistent everywhere you appear online. This includes your website, social media channels, etc.
Here’s what you need to communicate:
- Who do you serve
- Where do you serve them
- How can you help them
Anyplace that showcases a description of your business needs to include these three elements. If people don’t know who you serve or what they can expect from you, nobody will be knocking on your door anytime soon.
3. Can Your Ideal Client Find You?
In my experience, most clients reach out to me through Google. They may have seen me on Instagram or somewhere else. Then they go to research me and my business and when they’re ready to buy, they contact me through Google.
To facilitate this connection you need:
a. To Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
Setting this up is easy, click here to get started.
b. Use Content Your Ideal Customer Is Looking For
Anywhere you post content, use content that will attract your ideal client. This can be blog posts, pages, social media, etc. Use words your ideal client will be looking for, but don’t keyword stuff. Google is getting smarter!
c. Add Metadata to Your Photos
Include metadata on all your photos to help your ideal customer find you more easily.
4. What Are You Offering Your Ideal Client?
Offering too much or not organizing your offerings well will confuse clients and might even turn them away. The only thing your client wants to know is if you can solve their problem. If they have to wade through too much to figure it out, they’ll head elsewhere.
Here are three tips to help streamline your offerings.
1. Solve Your Ideal Clients’ Problems
Figure out your ideal client’s problem. How many photos do they need? How will they use them? And so on.
Show potential clients that your work can solve their problems.
2. How Much Do You Want to Make and How Many Clients Do You Need
Consider how much money you want to make each month and how many clients you can take on. You can use this information to help you figure out your pricing.
3. What Types of Photos Do You Want to Take?
Don’t forget, you’re trying to attract clients who need photos that you want to take. Have those types of photos on your website to show them what you’ve got!
5. Styled Photoshoots
Many people have a portfolio of images they’ve taken for other people. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it usually means that your portfolio is not full of your favorite types of images.
Doing styled photoshoots gives you a chance to update your portfolio with the types of images you want to be shooting more of. You can stretch your creativity and explore your interests. Then, use those images to attract more clients looking for those types of images.
You can do styled shoots by yourself or work with brands in the industries you want to work with. You might even collaborate or gift images to a small company starting out in the industry you want to photograph.
6. Show Up Where Your Ideal Customer Is
Social media can be great for getting exposure. But let me tell you that you make the most connections in the commercial and brand photography world by being where your customers are and networking.
You can do this by attending chamber meetings or other business networking events.
Another great method is to set yourself up as an expert in the field. Speak at trade events, write articles (you can publish on LinkedIn now!), and just be more visible in the world of business in your area.
7. Speed to the Lead
Don’t ever let a lead go cold. Call people back quickly, follow up quickly, and get your proposal in their hands as soon as possible.
A great tool I use to keep track of it all is Honeybook. Set up the system ahead of time and have all your contracts in place. Then, when someone contacts you, you’re immediately ready to respond.
8. Let Them Know You’re Right for Them
Once clients find you, how do they know you’re the right photographer for their branding photography?
You can certainly allow your personality to shine through on your website, but always ensure that the basics are clear.
- What type of photography you do
- Where you are located
- How you can help
Also, make sure your service location appears everywhere — on the service page, contact page, footer of your website, etc.
9. Are They a Good Fit?
How do you turn ideal clients into recurring clients? And how do you know which ones would make good recurring clients?
These five questions will help you figure out if the potential client is a good fit for you and your business.
- How often do they need photos?
- What stage of their business are they in? (Newer businesses need more photos, generally)
- How many photos do they need to use on social media each month? (Single-product businesses need fewer photos, whereas a business with high inventory turnover might need significantly more)
- How much variety is needed in the photos?
- Where will they use the images? (more images are needed for social media than a website)
10. Ask for the Sale
Be confident and proactive and ask your ideal client for the sale. If you wait around for them to come to you, you’ll be waiting a long time.
But asking for the sale can be uncomfortable. Here are a few tips to help!
- Email or drop your portfolio off at their office
- Ask a mutual acquaintance for an introduction
- Get to know them through social media first
- Pick up the phone and call. Remember, it’s okay if they say no!
Putting yourself out there is the hardest step for a lot of people. However, waiting for people to come to you is not a practical strategy in the commercial photography world.
But if you follow these tips and steps that I’ve laid out (all the way up to the ask!) I can assure you that you’ll watch your branding photography business grow!