Let’s be real: Bad clients do not really exist. If anything, a bad client would be one who never knocks on your door in the first place. The most frequent question I hear is: Fabio, what should I do to get better clients? First, how do we define a good client? Most of us agree that a good client is one who pays more and understands the value of our work, and does not price-shop among our competitors. If you want to know how to get better clients, start by looking at yourself. How are you procuring and then working with your clients? A common mistake is that photographers don’t effectively communicate their “value perception.” That’s how others perceive the value of the work and services we provide.
I’ve always said the best way to make more money is to work more with the clients you already have—the ones who love your work, trust your judgment and have already given you their business. It’s much less work than finding new clients. Sometimes just by offering more to existing clients, not even doing full-blown sales sessions, you can earn tons. It made me about $20,000 the first year I gave it a try. Here are four ways you can make more money without spending any money at all.
You’re a photographer, not a salesperson. Cut yourself a break. Pour out the chai/coffee/wine/absinth (no judgment) and listen up. You don’t need a master’s in business to become a successful photographer. But if you don’t immediately cut out a few things, you will turn into the cliché of the starving artist that your right-wing Uncle Barnie loves to mock, asking you at family gatherings, “So when are you going to get a real job?” To that I say, “Sit your fat ass down, Uncle Barnie. I’ve got this.” Stop pulling your hair out trying to employ these five marketing strategies everyone tells you to do but that bring in zero ROI.
Marketing is messaging. It’s that’s simple. Don’t overcomplicate it, which is easy for us to do. Yes, it’s social media, it’s bridal shows, it’s magazines, it’s networking, but all these things can be described in a single word: messaging. You must communicate the benefit of your product or service to potential customers. I am sure you are sitting there right now thinking, well, duh, Sal, the benefit is obvious, it’s our great images.
Can emails really drive print sales and increase your bottom line? If so, are you confused why your sales emails seem to go unanswered? Most photographers, especially shoot-and-burners, already use email to deliver online photo galleries to clients. For them, email is simply the easiest way to deliver final image downloads and essentially close the photographer-client transaction. Email delivery today is what burning photos onto CD’s used to be, hence the burn in shoot-and-burn. It feels clean and done. But is it smart?
Many photographers act as if they’ve got a top-notch publicist on their payroll, and do nothing to promote their business or brand. They act as if self-promotion is a dirty word and not something worthy of their time, when in reality it’s one of the most important aspects of building any business. So, let’s get proactive and put you and your skillset in the spotlight.
So many of you have taken the approach of simply kicking back and waiting to see what happens to your business “naturally.” Guess what? Virtually nothing happens naturally in this business, which is why God created marketing. And just like building your skill set, marketing never stops. Let’s come up with a game plan or at least a check-off list for you to work with the rest of the year.
As photographers and business owners, we need to be celebrities of a sort—potential clients need to know and trust us so they feel confident enough to hire us (and rave about us to others). It’s time to start creating your fame through behind-the-scenes content. Here’s where to start.
Including pets in your portrait sessions is a smart way to add variety, additional income and a hearty challenge. While I am not suggesting that every portrait photographer needs to become a pet photographer, including furry family members in your work is a fun way to expand your offerings.
There are tons of ways for you to streamline your workflows and reduce the logistics you need to focus on so you can go back to holding your camera. Here are three things I use in my business to make money and get work done practically in my sleep.