Photo by gré-Kelly Segré
The hardest part of any photography business seems to be actually getting clients, especially when you are first starting out. There are several people who will tell you that they get their business from word of mouth. The truth is that most word of mouth marketing has actually taken a lot more work than just your past clients talking about you. So how do you generate “word of mouth”?
Even before people can talk about you, you need to have something for them to talk about. This starts with your portfolio. The best way to start a portfolio is to photograph people you know who will not mind if you show their images on your website. Like we mentioned in our last post, using friends is a great way to also help you define your style. Once you have a good grasp on how you want to shoot and if you feel you need more content there are several websites where you can network with models, some of them will work for trade, they model for you and you give them images for their portfolio or you can just hire them outright. You are the only one who can decide what works best for you.
Once you have your content for your portfolio you need to find a website that works for you. WordPress is a great source for free websites. These are blogs, like this one, and there is a wide range of free templates for you to choose from. WordPress also offers custom domain names or you can purchase yours from Yahoo, GoDaddy or several other providers and just forward your domain to your blog site. There are several other companies as well who have very affordable, professional photographer websites available. When you choose a site, you should definitely choose one from the perspective of your client. Think of how they are going to be seeing you and how you want to be seen!
Now that you have a product to offer, how do you get clients? Do not be afraid to put the word out there yourself! If people do not know you exist they will not hire you! Email is the fastest, least expensive way to advertise yourself. Do you subscribe to any websites or advertise anywhere that provides you with a mailing list? Even if it is for wedding or portrait clients, just put “Boudoir Photography” in the subject line so that the reader knows what the email is about. The worst thing that can happen is that someone will ask to be taken off of your mailing list.
Network, network, network! Are there any lingerie boutiques in your town? Not a big chain store in the mall, but somewhere you can put your business cards or flyers for your studio? If there is definitely return the favor! Send your clients to their store, refer them as much as possible, if they know they are receiving business from you they will always be happy to return the favor back to you! Other places to network with are tanning boutiques, yoga studios, a women’s gym, or anywhere that women are the main source of income. All of these places cater to the same demographic you desire to work with.
Word of mouth does not just come from happy clients, it comes from happy people. Create a buzz about yourself by being noticed in your area. Be seen! It takes a lot of leg work and time to make it look like you have just “come out of nowhere”. This is a business where you definitely have to be your own PR person and you cannot be afraid to talk about yourself!
In part 3 we will be discussing the substance of social networking.