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Commericlaphoto
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3.3 Clients

Who is your ideal client? How many clients do you really need? The sheer size of the “start-up checklist” is usually the biggest hurdle for people just starting out. In this lesson we'll look at how to focus your efforts and land your first commercial client. Starting up really isn't all that hard—it just takes some patience, research, and perseverance.

3.3 Clients

In the last lesson, we looked at how you go about building a commercial portfolio. In this lesson, we're gonna put that portfolio to work and find your first three paying clients. Now why did I say three? Well, one that might be your mom, one could be a fluke. And a hundred, that's way too daunting. You don't wanna think about that. You wanna take small steps. Three is a really good number that you know that you have something going, that you can expand on and turn into a real business. So, how do you go about finding your first three clients? The first step is to identify your ideal client. Now, there's a lot of things that go into niching down who's right for you. But there's a really easy, back of the napkin test, that you can do. The back of the napkin test just has two questions. One. Are they able to pay for my services? Two. Are they willing to pay for my services? So let's say you wanna get into shooting band promotional materials. So if your going to shoot band promotional materials, you want to go out and find real names to put down on your list. You don't want to hypothetically think about all bands because all bands are different. You need to niche it down a little bit farther. So if you're gonna be shooting bands, let's take a look at band number one. Band number one, all the members are in their 30s. They have kids, they have high paying jobs. And the band is just something that they do on the weekends to have fun. So are they able to pay? Yes, chances are if they all have high paying jobs, all the band members pooled together are able to pay you your fee. Are they willing to pay? It sounds like this band isn'tt actually that serious about promoting the band and getting it more recognized. So chances are, even though they're able to pay, they're not going to be willing to pay because it's not that important to them. Now, let's take a look at band number two. Band number two consists of college kids. Everyone has a student loan, they're probably living in a dirt cheap apartment, all being roommates. And this band is their life. So, are they willing to pay? Chances are, yes. They're willing to get your work. Although, this might actually fail too. Because they might not actually be willing to hand over money. But the point is yes, they want this work. They want this service from you. Thing number two, are they able to pay? Chances are unless you're charging $50 and giving them a ten minute session, they're not able to pay your fee. They're going to want the work from free. In fact, I ran into a lot of this when I first started out and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I was trying to shoot a lot of band promos. And I was getting a lot of bands that fell into this second category where the band was super important to them, but they weren't willing to invest anything into the promotional materials. So, take a look at the back of the napkin test. Are they able to pay? Are they willing to pay? And find real names to make out that list. Once you have the real names on that list, the next step is reaching out to them. Leverage your real world social connections. Chances are by this time you've already built a portfolio. You already have some work. You've done personal shoots. So people know what to expect when they hand you money. So using that portfolio and your real world connections, you can usually find someone who falls into that demographic you're looking for that is both able and willing to pay. Next up, get used to cold calling and get used to rejection. You might not have that intimate connection with someone that you're looking for to be able to just reach out and have them say yes I want to hire you. You're going to say hey I saw you online. This is my portfolio. I really want to work with you. And you might get a lot of no's. But lets say you make ten phone calls. One of them says yes, nine of them hang up on you. When your first starting out that's a 10% closing rate, and that's pretty good. So you've built a portfolio of personal work that you're really proud of. You're reaching out to clients using your real-world connections. Maybe a little bit of cold-calling. And getting used to some rejections along the way. Now, once you get your first three paying clients, it doesn't matter whether they pay you $100 or $1000. The money is not important at this point. Let me reiterate. The money is not the important part of getting your first three clients. The important part is the feedback that you're going to get. Did I deliver? Did I get a good product delivered in a reasonable time span? Were they happy? And was I able to actually get them what I promised? Were there any disconnects along the way? What can you do better next time? Where were things where your expectations just didn't line up and you ended up missing the mark? Getting those types of feedback and being able to ask them honestly and candidly, which also this is something you should bring up beforehand. I'm building up my portfolio, I'd like to ask you some questions when we're done. If you can get that feedback from your first three clients, see what you did right, what you could do better. Then moving forward with a larger scale business plan, you'll have all the pieces in place to be able to find more clients. Next, we'll look at some common commercial assignments using real world examples. So you can see what it's like being in the world of commercial photography.

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