Is social media is important for your business?
Well I am sure it is important when you know exactly what to do,
If like me you are not an expert, you do it all and see what works.
When you are a celebrity, of course, you have tonnes of followers, you can communicate, share ideas etc…
When nobody knows you because you just opened your photos studio, it’s more complicated.
I tried, Facebook ads, a complete waste of money, seriously it’s been a few years and did not get a client from them. After you paid to get real people who like your page, you must now pay for to have your post viewed by all your audience, otherwise only a small portion of them will see the posts
Linkedin is a professional network, not really where people will search for photography services, except maybe headshots. So the result for me was 1 client in 15 years. People don’t really play the game, but love to collect connections.
Google plus, never understood how it worked and Google kept changing direction.
Pinterest, it’s very cool to make albums and show to your client’s inspiration boards about a specific topic. Apart from professional use, I also have a board about Pitbulls with over 3.5K followers but no clients ☺
Pinterest is ok, I put a lot of professional photos. If you like other people’s profile, chances are they will like yours. So now I have a lot of photographers who are following me but no clients.
Then you have paid advertising; I tried TheKnot, the biggest portal for the wedding. They have now a boudoir photography section, and nothing, not a single client. I also tried one of the big wedding show, thinking maybe some clients would be interested in a boudoir shot, generally, it’s before the wedding. No one client.
So I allocated some money on Google AdWords, and with that, I am finally on Google. Impossible to get appear on the first page for natural search, even after 3 years.
You generally find the same name appearing on top, even if they don’t have any review of bad reviews.
Yelp is a good service to get clients; even I hate to ask my client to put a review. And if this is the first or second time the person posts a review, it will be filter out after a couple of weeks, and won’t appear anymore in your profile.
Even if I can prove that these reviews were made from actual clients, I still have a third of reviews filtered out.
First people find you with Google Adwords, and then they search for your studio on Yelp
To rank on natural search, you need to work seriously on your SEO, and everyone will tell you that you need links from high-quality websites to your website. Easier said than done, I’m sure a photo with the Kim Kardashian will help too
BIG mistakes to avoid
I saw a lot of boudoir website, the biography of the photographer start like I am a mom, I have 3 kids, I started photography as a hobby Bla Bla
Who really cares? Good for you but it is totally irrelevant to what your customers are looking for.
When you looking for a good hair stylist or a good doctor, you want to know more about their professional experience, maybe read some reviews. You don’t care if they have kids or dog,
It makes the biography look very amateur.
Talk about your professional experience, editorial you’ve done. Open a YELP account, if you don’t have experience talk about the boudoir adventure
If I need to choose somebody for a service, I prefer a professional. Then you can relate to different things
When you look at photographers website, you want to know everything in a few clicks. It’s really annoying when you don’t find the studio location or the prices.
To force your client to call and try to convince them about the service is generally not a good idea.
You need to show clearly the packages. It’s also bad to write: starts at 200$ if in reality the final cost can’t be $200 and you have to add retouching, prints etc..
You need to have a package with all details and not confuse your client.
If they like your work, it will be easier for them to see if you have a package that fits your budget
Another thing, quick funny, I saw on Instagram a lot of female photographers who post 10x more photos about themselves (mostly selfies) than from their work.
Look like they love themselves, doesn’t look very professional.
You are here for your client, talk about your professional experience, about what you can bring to your client, less about you.
How to find concrete clients in fashion, wedding or boudoir photography.
Your website needs to be strong he will talk for you.
So put only your best photos.
Also, each client is very different so try each time to put photos that might interest your client.
You have to be prospecting all the time, on 100 emails you wrote, you will have maybe 3 replies and one job, but it’s the only way.
Where to find these clients?
Look at all the brands you can find in your magazines, take the one who have the worse photos, go to their website and try to find a contact
If it’s a general contact ask to talk to the right person who is in charge of catalogs marketing or advertising shoots.
Don’t waste your time with big brands because they work with advertising agencies and take only big and famous photographers
When you wrote an email, personalize your text to the brand, if you find the right contacts name on Linkedin, you can try to guess the actual email. Most companies use the same logic to create the email address. FirstName.LastName @ company.com or initial of the first name attached to the last name. If somebody from the company responded, you can find the structure.
Be specific, simple, people don’t have time to read a1 page email.
You should search for find brands that advertise in magazines. Most beauty brands do, as well as apparel and ones who don’t generally need a look book (photos of all their design for a particular collection that is shown on a model, on a neutral background)…If you are just starting in fashion photography, you should try to find young designers who will definitely need look books and could more easy hire a less seasoned photographer.
Models agencies, actors school, makeup hair school, wedding planner, event industries.
After you find the right person to wrote, try by phone ton connect with them.
Always have your business card, you never know.
Give some to your team (hair stylist, make artist, stylist…)
You bring them work so they need to bring you work too.
When you think you have a really strong portfolio, you can try the advertising agencies.
Generally, the agent takes you because of your existing clients. If you have no clients and nothing to bring him, chances are he won’t be interested.
I had few different agents and no one really invested his time to bring me new work. They are here to negotiate the budgets with the client you’ve found, and you give them between 10% and 20% of your revenue on these jobs.
It’s really hard to find a motivated agent.
If you already work with prestigious clients, you are more “sellable” on don’t require that much effort to promote.
Less known agents have less known brands (which don’t have a lot budget) and generally does not work with major magazines
Well know agents deal of course with major brands, but you need to already work with well know clients to be represented by them.
So for the beginning don’t try to be represented by top agents, focus on getting the right clients, and they will reach out on their own
There are different ways of approaching brands, from connecting on social media (like messaging them on Instagram) to going to your designer fashion shows and introduce yourself. Try to target brands that will connect with your style of photography
There are also the accessories shows, which are more business oriented. These brands also need great photography, especially lifestyle photos
And now it is easy to show your portfolio on your Ipad, no need to carry around a huge portfolio and swap prints to update it with your new work!
For portrait and boudoir photography your website is crucial. The fastest way to start is to Google Adwords. You will bid on keywords and the result will appear on top. Since Google wants to sell you advertising, you can easily connect with their sales specialists who will guide you through the first steps.
Yelp is a great lead generator once you get positive reviews. You can increase your visibility at that stage by advertising on Yelp too
For the wedding photographer, in order to build your portfolio, you will generally do one or two wedding for free, you need to have something to show. You will be able to give your card at the event so have material to give at the venue
If you do the Wedding shows, you can share your booth between different service providers (makeup artist, hair stylist etc..). Reach out to wedding stores, and of course wedding planners
How to quote a budget for your client (for a fashion job).
First never give a quote without doing your research first.
Go online and try to find all the information you can on the company. How big are they? What advertising they generally do, do they have stores internationally?
Then you need to ask more details, to calculate your expenses.
First, how many retouched photos will they need?
With this information, you can know how many shooting days you need. For a good catalogue it’s 5, 6 a day, more you take your time more the photos are perfectly executed.
For a look book, 20 looks a day is a good number.
Keep in mind the cost for each retouched photo, if you don’t plan tp do it yourself.
You prefer to shoot in a studio or on location?
If you have to rent a studio you need to factor the cost.
Generally, you rent a studio for 6 hours a day. In New York, you can find some studio starting at 400 dollars a day with equipment.
How many models? Just to have an idea (The models should not be included in the price because they can start at 10,00$ until 20,000 or more, so it’s up to the client to choose how much he is ready to spend. But having an idea of the budget for the model gives you a good reference point for your quote too
Generally, you will do the casting with your client together.
Send emails to all the agencies with the budget and what type of model you want and what day you want to shoot, put as much information as possible. After that choose the 3, 4 best models and show them to your client.
If the shoot is in the studio, what do they need for background, sometimes you need to rent different furniture or decor.
Does he need one makeup artist and hair stylist or 2, does he need a stylist to add shoes, and other accessories to their clothing collection?
Don’t forget the catering for all the team.
The cab if you need to bring your equipment to a location.
You assistant will cost also 300$ a day (6 hours)
For the makeup and hair styling, it starts at 200 a day.
The most important what would be the photo usage? Web catalogue, advertising in the US, in Europe.
That will determine image rights that will be added to the shooting costs. Image rights are generally for 2 years, but they can be longer or permanent. The cost will be different for a longer time or for complete cession of the rights
Making the photo shoot is expensive, so charge at least $3,000 per day of shooting.
If is a 10-day job, you can reduce that daily rate
You need to feel comfortable with the number quoted to the client, because if you earn nothing on the job, you will not be motivated, and this will affect your work
Very important question, for when do you need the photos?
Most clients are in a rush since they get the samples at the last minute. If you give the photos to an external retoucher, check his schedule to make sure he will be available to do the work on time to meet the deadline.
Always listen to your client, what is his style, what he loves,
What is his target, what the goal of this photoshoot? What aspect does he want you to highlight?
Ask him what he prefers in your portfolio, this will help you figure out the style.
You can then propose different stories for the shoot