Q&A – Do you have any recommendations regarding marketing and/or finding those first few food photography clients?
Wow! That’s really a good question… I can make some suggestions , but because it’s been a while since I looked for my first client, I’d only be guessing. I’m going to make some suggestions and then check with some friends of mine that are newer to the food photography business than I am. Check back to this post in a couple of weeks, because I’ll probably append some additional suggestions to the bottom of this post, so read to the end, and then come back and check and see if anyone listed more suggestions in the comments below.
Depending on where you live, probably the greatest ROI you can make in your marketing efforts will be SEO. But just remember, marketing will get you and your work in front of people, but if your photography sucks, then your possibilities are limited. So keep improving your technique, keep editing your web site, and above all, keep getting better as a food photographer.
You pretty much have to have a web site these days and it needs to be professionally designed. Put only your best photos on the site. Many potential clients will end up judging you, by not only your best photos, but by your worst photo too. They want to see consistency. They NEED to be confident that, if they hire you, their project will be equal to the work they see on your site. If the quality of the work your website is inconsistent, they will likely feel skeptical about taking a chance working with you. Your work together will be a reflection of THEIR reputation and THEIR job might actually be on the line. If you screw up, they will look bad and people don’t like to look bad.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, every food photographer can tell you that it’s hard to find new clients. That’s why it’s important to have good SEO. It’s much easier for you to let the clients to find you, instead of you having to find them. Good SEO is VERY important. In fact, that’s probably why you’re reading this blog post right now.
Here’s what I suggest you do to find your very first food photography clients
1. Make some really great images to start the ball rolling. (That’s really the hardest part) The idea is to start building a portfolio. This process never actually ends, so don’t be discouraged at first. No one is ever really happy with their portfolio.
2. Create a good website with good SEO. Long term, this will be the most important marketing effort you will make. You can be the best food photographer in the world, but if no one sees your stuff, then clients may not be able to find you.
3. Hook up with wanna-be food stylist and do some test shots. A well-know food stylist probably won’t have time for you, so find someone looking to build their portfolio, that would be willing to do some test projects with you. If you live in an area without a few food stylist, find a chef or someone interested in helping you. This will help you website and will get you used to working with a stylist. And, it may establish a relationship that will prove very useful to you when it comes time to actually do some paying gigs.
4. Make a list of all the possible “food related” clients in your area, or at least as many as you can hunt down. This list might include restaurants, food manufacturers, food distributors, grocery stores, catering companies, bakeries, graphic design firms representing food clients, and advertising agencies. Just make a huge list. You’ll need it for later.
5. I suggest that you first approach your local restaurants and offer to shoot some of their food for free. It’s hard to turn down free work, so you’ll probably get an opportunity to get your foot in the door. Companies have a great need to social media content, so I don’t think that too many places will end up turning you down. If you do a good job, you’ll have some more samples to add to the website, some blog ammunition, and you’ll possibly have a new client, the next time they need a food photo. I suggest that you do this with as many places on your “target” list as necessary. Give it away to get your foot in the door. Hopefully, the next time they have a need for some food photography, they’ll call you, but this time, you’ll be getting paid.
I know that some people are going to object to giving away the work, but that’s really the best way to get your foot in the door. After you’ve established yourself as a food photographer, then you can charge for your work. For now though, you need to get new images for the web site and you need to get your foot in the door. This method accomplishes both of your needs. If you can figure out a better way, I’m all ears.
I’m sure that others reading this will have some comments and suggestions. PLEASE help out by leaving a comment below. How did you get your very fist food photography client?