By Elizabeth Halford on | No Comments
The purpose of the ‘portfolio building stage’ of your business is simply to give you a portfolio images to show prospective clients.
And what is a portfolio? Well these days, it’s a website. All you need to get started are a few amazing images on your photography website to show what you are capable of doing and to show the style of photography a prospective client can expect to get from you.
And you don’t need many images! I like to say that all you need in your portfolio is ONE PHOTO. Realistically, you want more, but the concept is this: it really only takes one photo to show people that you know what you are doing. So don’t get stuck in this portfolio building phase for too long!!
Some websites or marketing strategies suggest that you use things like “you’ve been spotted” cards or “free session” marketing materials to bait prospective clients into booking a session with you on the pretense that you’re building a portfolio. Not a good move. Downright sleazy, in fact.
By all means - you can use those cards, but don't pretend that they are doing you a favor only to slam them with surprise prices in the end. If you are offering them a free session with not-free prints, then just say that upfront and be clear about it. But portfolio building isn’t about building a client base or making money. It should ONLY be about building your body of work. Period!
Also, don’t expect your portfolio building clients to become paying clients. After receiving what you are offering for free, they aren’t likely to ever pay you later on.
Psychologically speaking, once you have shown someone that you can work for free, they will forever be locked into the idea that you should work for free. And this goes for their friends. If they know that you worked for free once, there will likely be a knock-on effect of lowered expectations.
You should definitely expect to get some Facebook likes and exposure out of shooting sessions for free during your portfolio building stage, but don’t expect to receive a solid paying client base from those endeavors.
So if these sessions aren’t about gaining clients or making money, but rather about building your experience and body of work, then why not pleasantly surprise the people who have lent you their faces with a gift to say thank you? I’m not talking an expensive canvas. I just mean some web files or an 8×12 print.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t make money while you’re in the portfolio building stage of your business. Once you have a small portfolio of work, you can continue building that portfolio with portfolio-building-sessions at the same time as accepting paying sessions.
Put on your business brain and make every decision based on your future goals. If your goal is to someday charge $500 for a session, work your way up to that but don’t take too much time. People really don’t need to see much to know that you know what you’re doing.
Do you have any questions or comments about Portfolio Building for Photographers? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (We really appreciate it)!
Elizabeth Halford is a professional photographer and blogger. She gives real photography advice in real.plain.english.