I have an incredibly talented friend (and former Braid client) who makes a living as a professional photographer. We were recently hanging out and she was sharing her business insights and frustrations alike with me. This friend of mine is incredibly grateful for the clients she has, the reputation she’s building, and the work she is getting, but like any creative entrepreneur, there are seasons when she’s racking her brain to come up with new tactics and ideas to book her schedule solid with dream clients. Since chatting with my friend, I’ve been racking my brain thinking of ways she can get more clients too. So this post is for her (but I have a feeling it might help you too).
It’s easy enough to say “I want more clients,” which was what my friend was originally expressing in her frustrations, but that’s not an easily measurable goal. So I asked my friend over the course of our conversation to get more specific and she said, “I want to book 20 weddings this year.” Okay! Now we have a number to work with. 20 weddings a year = 5 per quarter.
1B. MAKE SPACE FOR YOUR GOALS
My favorite tool for making my goals visual is The Chalkboard Method. So I would advise my friend to create her own chalkboard pronto. (Seriously, it works.)
Knowing that booking weddings are her goal, she can now put her efforts toward booking couples getting married. However, before you even begin marketing toward those brides or grooms, begin nurturing your relationships with wedding venues, event planners, florists, and caterers. These are the folks that are going to recommend you and help you create a name for yourself within the industry. Here are just a couple ideas for nurturing those valuable relationships:
Gay marriage is still newly legal (yay!) which means a lot more gay couples are getting, well, married. My friend was telling me how much she’d love to photograph more LGBTQ couples, and many LGBTQ couples shopping for vendors are cautiously looking for folks who will be enthusiastic and supportive of their union. My friend already has LGBTQ couples in her portfolio, but using gender-neutral language when talking about couples, and explicitly telling her potential clients on your website that she is LGBTQ friendly could go a long way in getting more dream clients.
My photographer friend takes really amazing boudoir-style shots of women out in nature. So, while she wants more weddings (that pay the bills!) my thought is to ask brides if they’d be game for a sexy shoot they can surprise their spouse-to-be with. Including the kind of photos you want to be known for in the packages you’re already getting hired for is a great way to boost your portfolio with the kind of work you want to be known for.
The other day I noticed that my friend has over 20k followers on Instagram, and she’s great about consistently posting, but wasn’t so great at explicitly reminding her audience to hire her. She was unsure about bombarding her followers with calls to action. but creative professionals have to make a living by consistently selling themselves. You can’t worry too much about what other people might think when your livelihood is at stake. Trust that people want to hire you, they just need to be consistently reminded that you are available.
These are little nuggets of advice that are simple enough and can make a big difference in your bottom line. I hope these not only help my photographer friend land more dream clients but that you’re able to take away a few tidbits you can apply to your own small business.