How to keep the work coming is a bit of an enigma to newcomers of the industry.
When the majority of your work comes from freelance leads, it’s very important to have a handle on what will get you work and what won’t. And sometimes – Most times – It’s simply a waiting a game.
Depending on what sort of work you do, especially if your into the wedding or event photography arena, business cards can be a great source of work, as you can simply hand them out while your working. Some other fields such as advertising or fashion won’t care much if you leave a card with them – especially if it’s how you make your primary income. There are a lot of places to get business cards made, you can go through your local print shop or you can order them online. I use Mpix.com, they make great cards at low cost, and you can use their nifty-design program to speed up the creation and order process.
Promos are mailers that you send to art directors or event coordinators, and they can be as simple as a 5×7 postcard. These people receive hundreds of promos a day, so if you really want to be noticed you have to submit something that is not only an excellent image, but is also creatively presented. This can be anything from a folded up poster with one of your images and your name on it, to a small book that showcases the best of your work related to the client. Personally, I use iPhoto to create my miniature promo-books, they make excellent mailers as they are small (about 2.5 x 3.5 inches) and light, and they are a great substitute for a business card as they fit nicely in your pocket. Sending mailers can be expensive, so it’s best to send your mailers only once every 3-4 months. Make sure you send fresh work each time!
Also, you can go the e-mail blast route – browse talent and ad agency websites, get contact info and about once or twice a month send them a nice image with your name on it and a link to your portfolio. Explain what sort of work you do, briefly. It’s important that you update the image often.
You can read more about promos from the view of a photo editor HERE.
You absolutely must have a website or online portfolio of some kind. You would be surprised the amount of work you can get because of it, especially in this day and age of electronics. You can use the internet in other ways too, newcomers and veterans alike post ads on Craigslist all the time to get freelance work, and it’s a good place to start if your new to the industry.
Also, take advantage of social networking like Twitter and update people on the work your doing, start a blog and show potential clients that you can do more besides snapping photos.
When you send out promos and mailers, it is important to cater to the interests of the client you are sending work to. However, this does not mean you should strictly only do portraiture or food photography. If you can shoot Fashion alongside journalism, you will be that much more valuable to your clients, and will get more work because of it. It’s best to plan out a shoot to show your diversity. Get friends to model for you, travel to interesting locations, etc.
Word of Mouth
This is hands down the best – and simplest – way to market yourself. Be polite. Be professional. Be knowledgeable. If you make a good impression on a client, word travels fast.
Above all, it is most important to produce good work. If you combine that all of the above, you will see steady work and success. A good photographer’s work is never done – so once you wrap up production of that new promo or business card, you need to get right to work on the next one. Be creative, be original, be you.