How to get clients in a small town

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by footballfan993, Aug 22, 2015.

  1. footballfan993

    footballfan993 TPF Noob!

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    I have recently started to take up photography as a side hobby/job. I have made a facebook page specifically dedicated to my photography. I have also put a few ads out on Craigslist, asking if there are people that need a photographer for an event of senior photos. I haven't had much luck, though. My university does have a 'love confessions' page that is very popular, so I was thinking of putting an 'ad' on there. I have my rates set very cheaply, $50, but it is negotiable.

    My town, Stevens Point, WI, is a fairly small town about 26,000 population, so I don't have all a wide client base that you could get in a larger city. I am also signed up to take a photography class from a renown local photographer, who is a member of the Professional Photographers of America, John Hartman. The course is for a total of 3 days, but I hope that I can still learn a lot from him.

    What kind of ways do you market yourself out to people?

    Thanks!


     
  2. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    You'll need to market yourself in at least a 50 mile radius of Stevens Point.
    A 75 mile radius would be better.

    You need to be involved in your community.
    Join the Chamber of Commerce. Talk with other business owners.
    Think of other businesses that high school seniors frequent. Those other businesses may be willing to do joint promotions with you.
    The trick is to make it sound like it's a better deal for them than it is for you, but you want it to benefit you more than them.

    BTW - TPF has a forum for Aspiring Professional Photographers.
     
  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    We're often reminded to "take it easy" on the newbs here, so I'll ask an easy question:

    Are you any good at it? Is your ability to produce good photographs equal to your asking price?

    The reason I'm asking is not to slam your intentions, but rather to bolster your reason for asking for payment.

    Here it is in a nutshell: If you proclaim yourself to be a professional photographer, (never mind how much you're asking) but cannot actually produce photographs that your customers are happy with, what you'll end up with is a lot of disappointed customers who tell others, and your reputation as a photographer will be "in the hole", so to speak. At that point, it will be very hard to establish a good reputation, even if your skills improve.
     
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  4. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There is no substitute for hard work. The guy that said "The harder I work, the luckier I get!" hit the nail right on the head.
    I would suggest you get as good as you can with courses and reading and then look around you for every photo you can see. Every place that uses photos could be a potential client for better or more timely photos. I'd look for anyplace that will publish photos and submit, submit and submit. Look at local paper inserts and see if they may publish a photo essay or article on taking better photos or whatever. Are there any local points of interest? Do a photo spread and submit it around. You can look for a niche that needs filling, and fill it.
    What you're trying to achieve is that if someone needs a photo in your area they think of your name. You can do a webpage or Facebook or whatever but that's only effective if they already know your name and want more information.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In addition: Don't even think about taking dollar one until you've spent a bunch. Business license (if required), tax ID (if required), insurance (absolutely required!), contracts reviewed by an attorney... it might sound like a lot of time and trouble for a little side business, but given that the US is without a doubt the most litigious country in the western world, you need to be prepared, and one little lawsuit can really ruin your day!
     
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  6. jovince3000

    jovince3000 Fried potato lover

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    If not a good part of your life.

    One thing I waited for to "know I was ready" to charge is : Waiting for other people to actually ASK ME to photo-shoot them or their products. Then I knew my skills were "good enough".

    Then after it's a matter of building your circle, in a small town it's even more important. Like someone said above, joining the chamber of commerce in your region is a great start, however you need a good backbone to be able to promote yourself successfully in there.

    One way to quickly (and nicely) promote yourself is to offer your services ( for free when you start ) to local charity event that you can associate to. It is a VERY NICE portfolio starter and if you play your card carefully, you can even win potential clientèle from these events ( distribute cards when people talk to you and such).
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
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  7. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Excellent advice! The beauty of this is that you can get some great images, and people don't expect you to charge, whereas if you shoot "just people" for free to start, it's much harder to move into paid work.
     
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  8. vfotog

    vfotog No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    when you live in a small town, word of mouth is really critical. If your work doesn't live up to expectations, you can have a problem that you can't recover from. Work on your skills first and don't even think about having a business at this point. If you can't produce work that is of professional quality, you shouldn't be charging. Learning the skills at your customer's expense doesn't work, and a bad rep in a small town is not a path to success.
     
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  9. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    We all gotta start some where, and I doubt that any of the professionals on here started out "good" (including myself). Good in photography is a very relative term. IMHO in the photography business, it's more often can you consistently deliver what you show in your portfolio? Your portfolio may not be good to another photographer or other clients, but people that pay you expect you to deliver what you've shown them. As long as you don't promise what you can't deliver then you have nothing to be afraid of IMHO. If you wait for someone on the Internet to tell you that you're good enough to charge, then you'll be waiting forever. :)

    As far as advertising, social networking is a good place. It's free, it's fun, and it can reach a very wide audience and build a large following. Be true to yourself and don't try to be like someone else. Anyone can put a camera in auto mode and take a pretty decent picture, but there's only one of you. You are unique and unlike others. Capitalize on that!
     
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  10. imagemaker46

    imagemaker46 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I suppose I lucked out by being in a position where I was pretty good starting out, having a father in the business as a mentor. Fast forward 45 years and I still suck at the business side of photography, which is also why I'll likely die with a camera in my hand. Learn the business side of anything before jumping into a profession, or really just jumping into life. It's all related.
     
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