In this guide, I show you how to choose who to pitch, how to find the right contact information, and how to craft a winning pitch.
I am a food + product photographer & educator specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable brands. When I am not working with clients, I empower creatives to start their journey by sharing my knowledge on the business of food + product photography.
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What would you think if I told you that the most important part of being a food and product photographer has almost nothing to do with photography?
Well, it’s true! An elevated client experience is the most memorable part of their entire working relationship with a photographer, period. While honing your photography skills is necessary to provide a top-notch end product, it’s the journey that nurtures existing clients into loyal, repeat customers.
How do we enhance that journey as photographers? I’m glad you asked! In this blog post, I’ll cover some steps that I take throughout a project to ensure that my client understands my process, has their individual needs met, and feels comfortable from their initial inquiry to their final payment.
Forging a new working relationship is a delicate stage. They’re getting to know how you work and you’re getting to know what they like. You can make this part of the project go smoothly by being proactive…don’t ever make a client guess what they should do next! I like to use the following three steps to set reasonable expectations from day one:
It helps me set the client’s expectations if I have some reasonable ones of my own! Sending out a client questionnaire at the beginning of a project will help you understand them. You can see what they’re hoping to gain from this collaboration and what their priorities are. Not to mention you can gain an idea of their experience level with the type of work you do. If you can follow up with a call, all the better! I know it can be nerve-racking at first, but I promise you it gets easier! And it helps create a personalized relationship with new clients. Remember that we always want to buy from people.
Some clients don’t know for sure what they want (or don’t want) until they see it. Mood boards can convey your ideas in a more concrete way to clients who have difficulty visualizing things on their own. Use them to suggest color schemes, angles, and other design aspects you think will work with the project at hand.
Putting together a shot list will ensure that you get specific shots your client needs. Use it as kind of a checklist for particular angles that are important to them, but also use this to keep track of different aspect ratios they’ll need. Every social media platform and website template has particular aspect ratios that perform best, so if your client knows exactly where they’ll be using their images you can be sure to check the optimal ratios for that platform off your list! I created a checklist to help you keep track of all the shots you need, make sure to check it out!
Sometimes it can feel awkward to talk about payment and image rights, but it’s incredibly necessary. Go ahead and lay out those details up front. Be clear about how your clients can use their images moving forward, and work together to set fair deadlines. Give them time to review your contract and agree on a payment plan. You want something that works for them and allows you to manage expenses for the job.
Communication is key to an elevated client experience. In the previous section, we talked about starting off on the right foot by laying out your process up front. But there’s more to good communication than landing the deal!
For example, I’m a huge proponent of Client Management Systems (CRMs). I use Dubsado to keep the lines of communication open throughout a project. This way I can create automations that serve the client while saving me time. That means I can send out specific emails that I’ve composed ahead of time, which address a client’s concerns before they even have them. Talk about an elevated client experience! I can also use Dubsado to trigger certain actions on my end in response to things the client does on theirs. So if they choose a package, a corresponding contract can be ready to go before I’ve lifted a finger. I can also pre-populate invoices using packages I have saved from previous clients. (Love that one!)
All of that is a win for me in terms of efficiency, but it’s also a win for the client. They feel so much more confident going into a timely transaction with an organized stream of information headed their way at every step! And of course, with all the paperwork virtually managing itself, my time and energy are free to focus on the most important part: being there for my clients and providing them with my very best work. (If you’d like more information on my CRM, check out my blog post on using Dubsado in my workflow.)
Having a plan, a CRM, and some well-written emails is a great start! But as a photographer whose business is based on the power of visuals and images, having beautifully-designed templates to walk your clients through your process is the best part of an elevated client experience to me. It’s probably because of my background as a graphic designer, but I just love sharing those magazine-style proposals and welcome packets!
I use those templates as much as possible in my business. They allow me to communicate crucial information quickly, over and over again. At the same time, they offer a high level of customization and provide a personalized touch for every single client. If I’m working with a bakery, I’m going to want to feature my food photography. But can an updated package ready in minutes if I decide to pitch a cosmetics client!
Or let’s say that I have decided to raise my prices (Which you should do regularly!). I can update my templates in a few clicks, making sure that any new client will get the updated prices! This kind of flexibility is great for several purposes:
If you want to get started with templates, I offer some as part of my Upwork Playbook bundle! You’ll receive my ebook guide to getting started on one of the world’s largest online freelancing platforms, along with six professionally designed template pages, which can be easily customized in one of my absolute favorite online graphic design resources: Canva.
After your job is completed, your client’s feelings about their experience will be the most important thing they remember. Their impression of you as a professional and of your photography will always be colored by the way you made them feel.
So by all means, become the best photographer you can possibly be! Take all the classes, learn all the techniques, and buy all the equipment you can afford. But remember that creating a positive, elevated client experience will set the stage for a long-lasting business relationship! I hope you’ll use some of my suggestions to help you along the way, and I would love to hear what steps you take to elevate your client experience!
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Helping brands and businesses promote a happy, healthy and sustainable lifestyle through stunning food and product photography
Things are getting serious, so I reread all your blogposts regarding client work, which are all so so so helpful 🙂
There are two questions from my side:
1. The client questionnaire.
Do you send your clients open questions via e-mail or questions that already give answering options to choose from? Or a ready-made questionnaire template? I’m curious how that looks like.
2. The mood board.
Do you create a mood board via Photoshop? Kind of freehand everytime? Or do you also use templates for it? And how do you let the client see the mood board? Pinterest e.g. does not work for people that don’t have an account. That’s why I sent out a pdf recently, because I did not know what to do instead.
Looking forward to your answers 🙂
Thank you so much for your great questions!!
For the client questionnaire, I actually created it in Dubsado – see the article about CRMs for photographers. The questionnaire itself kinda looks like a Google survey – some are open ended questions, and some are multiple choice type. Some clients skip it and prefer to talk on the phone, so I will ask the questions then.
For the mood board, it’s funny you ask… I will be sharing a free template in the next blog post that I will publish in a couple of days (or you will get it by email if you are on the email list). I have created in on Canva and usually save it as a pdf that I send to my client.
Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other question! Thanks Nina!
Thank you so much for answering my questions so quickly!
I really need to take a closer look at Dubsado and it’s power 😉 I saw that they have a free trial version with no time limit. It would be great creating the survey with the help of this tool, so clients that are very busy can skip the phone call this way.
Aaahhh…great! Also, need to get more into Canva. So I’m really looking forward to your template 🙂 And good to know that you also send pdfs.
Thank you so much Fanette! I’m pretty sure there will be more questions soon 😀
No problem, I enjoy the questions 🙂
There will be more about Dubsado in November!