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How to get new customers?

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  • How to get new customers?

    I have clocked up a few decades of experience in the photography business and a good 15 years retouching experience. I am confident in my ability to handle most retouching tasks quickly and efficiently.

    That's enough of the boasting. Now for my shortcomings. I'm relatively new to running my own business and don't have much experience in getting new clients. The work I have picked up so far has been for people I know well and already worked with. Problem is this is not enough.

    Wondered what other peoples ideas were on getting new clients. I have so far gone down the route of social media marketing and SEO for my website. Neither of these have delivered results so far. I've also approached a few local companies directly, with very little response.

    So my question is, how do you pick up new clients? What kind of work/client are you after as I would think a different approach is needed depending on who you're targeting?

  • #2
    Re: How to get new customers?

    I've interviewed dozens of top retouchers over the years, and the #1 answer to your question from them is always personal contact with photographers. Phone calls, emails, or in one case walking into their studio. Have a killer portfolio viewable with just a click or two.

    The passive approach (putting out great examples, waiting for them to be found) rarely works, and only then if something goes viral (which is just about impossible to engineer).
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    • #3
      Re: How to get new customers?

      Thanks Doug. That certainly rings true from my limited experience. Wonder if there's many people picking up work from marketing or design agencies? I know the photographer usually keeps the copyright and therefore has to be involved. I've picked up one client who is a marketing guy, but maybe this is unusual.


      • #4
        Re: How to get new customers?

        Social media etc is all well and good but pressing the flesh is still the best way IMO. From Herts you can easily access the London crowd as well as mining your local area. I'd be surprised if anyone would give you serious work without meeting first so why not phone around and ask for a meeting with a senior art director, designer or traffic manager. You can often find names by viewing agency websites under the "who are we" sections. You can also tell from their websites if they use retouching or not. Even if they are well catered to you can still try for a meeting. Don't worry about meeting a junior or art worker - they can pave the way. Tell them you saw their brilliant website and would love to work with them yada yada. People only notice headache pills when they have a headache so you may only catch the person who has something coming up; so make a plan to call a hundred potential clients - I'd be surprised if you don't get some appointments.


        • #5
          Re: How to get new customers?

          You can meet with Creative Directors, etc., by requesting an informational interview. This is basically a no-obligation meeting. These are done mostly as a courtesy, so respect their time and don't try to use it to sneak past the queue. But it can be brilliant for showing you where you stand and what they're looking for.
          Learn by teaching
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          • #6
            Re: How to get new customers?

            Thank you for the encouragement and useful info. I've taken small steps towards arranging meetings, but think I need to more fully concentrate my efforts there. There's so much advice out there it's easy to get pulled in too many different directions at once.


            • #7
              Re: How to get new customers?

              Never come across the term "informational interview" but having read about it, it looks good and something I'm more comfortable requesting. I've avoided cold calling because I know how annoying it is when someone tries to sell me something I don't need or want.


              • #8
                Re: How to get new customers?

                I've actually called and requested informational interviews and it went really well. As an introvert, it was a load off my shoulders to find out this was an accepted practice that I could simply tap into. And it ended up being very valuable to me, though in a different direction than I'd imagined.
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                • #9
                  Re: How to get new customers?

                  @Jerry1: You can try registering as a seller on a website Photo retouching jobs are rare, but you can post an "hourlie" that will be online for anyone to see it. This "hourlies" are like services with a "buy now" button. I had a few sales so I trust this website.

                  The toughest thing is to set up a fixed price. I can retouch an image 10 minutes or 4 hours. However this service is visible for anyone from the internet, so you never know when someone place an order. Some sellers prefer to retouch multiple images.
                  I've put £10 per image because this can cover usual work for portrait retouching.
                  You can see my hourlie here to get a better idea of what I am talking about.

                  @Doug Nelson: BIG thanks for posting all the info. Never heard until now about informational interview either so this was educational.

                  You also said about emails. This was one of my plans to find online / remote design and retouch jobs. I was mainly thinking to create a list of photographers / agencies and send them my portfolio with an invitation to contact me regarding details and prices. However I stopped after I've read the email spam legislation.

                  I know in US you can contact strangers with offers if you follow the CAN-SPAM act (include full name, physical address, unsubscribe info etc). But in Europe you can't send unsolicited emails to anyone, because it's considered spam.

                  "In the United Kingdom, for example, unsolicited emails cannot be sent to an individual subscriber unless prior permission has been obtained or unless there is a previous relationship between the parties."

                  Here is the wiki article.

                  Honestly speaking it would be a bit odd for someone to take legal action against an artist who is presenting his portfolio and asking for a possible working relationship.

                  But I always like to be prepared before I do something, better safe than sorry.

                  Doug and anyone, if you have any thoughts about email promotion please post here.



                  • #10
                    Re: How to get new customers?

                    Anti-spam actions are aimed at advertising. If you're thinking of your emails as advertisements you've already lost. You should be looking to start relationships, and no one can restrict that sort of email. If you're carpet-bombing you are spamming. How much conversation would you expect to receive by walking into a party with a bullhorn?

                    Emails should be personal, sincere, and sent one at a time if they haven't previously given permission for you to email them.

                    And remember, if you've found a customer willing to hire someone they've never met and from so far away a personal meeting is impossible, you've found one that can/will leave you as quickly as they left your predecessor.

                    You're not fishing or hunting, you're courting.
                    Learn by teaching
                    Take responsibility for learning


                    • #11
                      Re: How to get new customers?

                      Or you just knock on couple of agency doors, studio doors... those people haven't gone anywhere.

                      Just because someone is online doesn't mean that's the only way to get in touch.


                      • #12
                        Re: How to get new customers?

                        A lot of interesting points. I guess what you do also depends on what type of customer you're after.

                        Are you picking up much work on people per hour paulkris? I did register with them, but then concentrated my efforts in a different direction as it seemed to be high volume low cost work, which was not the direction I wanted to go in.

                        I've gone down the route of requesting information interviews with people. Takes me into unfamiliar territory, but I'm sure it will be beneficial in time. If they're regular clients I would only need pick up 6-12 of them.


                        • #13
                          Re: How to get new customers?

                          Jerry1: I get 2-3 projects per month on pph. Sometimes I do take small / low cost jobs if I get my price per hour right.

                          I'm fascinated by the fact that some users are taking far more work there. I've bookmarked to read later their blog with user stories, maybe I'll learn a trick or two about marketing

                          I like what Doug said about courting so I think I'll try that too. I mean just to contact a few photographers and see how it goes.


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