When I was first starting out as a food photographer, I didn’t know how to find my ideal photography clients. I was excited to hear from anyone who liked my work and because I love what I do, I thought I wanted to work with everyone. But, this was not a healthy mindset and I had to practice three things to get beyond it. If you think you want to work with “everyone,” then you’ll want to read this post.
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How To Find Your Ideal Photography Clients
In the beginning, when it came to getting photography clients, my mindset was, “Please hire me.” It’s seems like you should try to get any client you can in order to build your portfolio and make money. But, this turns into a stressful hustle and demonstrates a significant lack of boundaries for how you run your business.
You always have a choice with what clients you work with and not all clients are going to be a good fit for you. It’s really important to figure out who your ideal clients are so you can work with people who are a good fit. If you take anything you can get, you could become overworked, underpaid, under appreciated or just plain old exhausted and unhappy.
So, how do you find your ideal clients?
When it comes to finding your ideal photography clients, it actually starts with you. You have to get to know your business and shift your mindset from “Please hire me” to “Is this a good client for me?” Sure, a client may want to work with you, but do you want to work with that client?
If you want to find your ideal clients, you have to practice gaining confidence in three things:
- KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
- KNOW YOUR VALUE
- KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO
Know Your Numbers
Making the decision to turn your creative passion into your business is definitely exciting. But, learning to think like a business person can be a difficult transition for creative entrepreneurs and artists. You aren’t just creating something beautiful anymore. Now you need people to pay you to create something beautiful for them.
The first step is you have to know what to charge for your services. In other words, you need to know your numbers. And, while this step is often challenging for creatives, it really doesn’t need to be.
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Your numbers include your personal expenses, your business expenses, knowing how to estimate a photography shoot, what your ideal yearly income is and how often you want to be working. Oh, and don’t forget about saving 30% for taxes. 😉
You need to organize these numbers so you can keep track of what you’re earning, what you’re losing and what you need to stay in business. Knowing your numbers helps guide you towards your ideal clients, not just any client.
Know Your Value
Knowing your value is different than knowing your numbers. Your numbers are your guide to figuring out a pricing model that makes sense for the project and your business. But, in order to be confident in the prices you deserve, you really have to know your value.
Your value is what you bring to the table. It’s your expertise, your professionalism, the quality of your work and how well you take care of your clients. When you know your value, you are more selective with who you work with. When you don’t know your value, you might take any client that comes your way.
So, how do you get confident in your value? This, my friend, is up to you. Knowing your numbers is a really good start. But, gaining confidence in asking for your prices takes time and experience.
Remember this: you know how to do something that your potential clients can’t do. You’re also damn good at it, because that’s what attracts potential clients to you in the first place. They are reaching out because they saw your work and need your high quality images to elevate their business and make more money. If a client doesn’t have a budget for the photography they are asking for, then they probably don’t see a value in it. Don’t take it personally, just don’t take the job.
Know When To Say No
As you get more confident in your numbers and your value, it gets a lot easier to say no to clients who aren’t a good fit. Saying no can seem scary at first and like you’re leaving money on the table. But, the truth is, it’s incredibly liberating and frees you up to be available for the clients who are a good fit. Money is definitely a good reason to say no, but there are other reasons that could factor into your decision too. It’s not always about the money.
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Sometimes a client will want something done faster than you know is possible. It’s up to you to try and educate them to your process and the time you need to do what they’re asking for. If they are strict on their timeline and it simply doesn’t align with what you need, it’s ok to say no. Let them find a “faster” photographer. Your ideal clients will want a project done right, not just fast.
How does the client treat you? Are they following through on their end of things? Are they responsive? Are they respectful? Professionalism is assumed in business, but it isn’t always practiced. A client could have the right budget, the right project and the right timeline… but if the client is not good to work with, this is another reason to say no. Your ideal clients will treat you well.
Photographers are constantly learning new things and educating themselves. But, just because you’ve played around with a new technique a couple of times, doesn’t necessarily mean you should get paid to deliver a high quality product of it (yet). Sometimes a potential client will ask for something that you’re not experienced enough to deliver and in this case, it’s a good reason to say no. It’s better to say no than to not deliver the quality that your client will expect from you.
I simply don’t believe in the “fake it until you make it” approach with photography. Lack of experience and expertise will show through on the shoot and ultimately in the work you deliver. Be honest with yourself and with your clients when it comes to what you can confidently deliver for them.
Finding your ideal photography clients isn’t just about looking for clients and reaching out to everyone you know. It’s very much about discovering yourself as a business person, being confident in what you offer and guiding your energy towards the clients who value what you do. And, when this shift in thinking happens, you’d be amazed at how your ideal clients will actually start finding you.
This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I actually use and support.
All images ©Regan Baroni 2021.