One of the questions that I get asked by photographers the most frequently is: "How can I start working with brands more often?" I'm not going to lie, this is a question I asked myself for years as well! It took me a long time to figure it out, and it wasn't until a year ago that I really got a handle on it. So today, I'm going to write the blog post that I always searched for, and hopefully shorten your journey towards working with brands.
1. Create a Dream Client List
Before you can do anything else, you need to get clear on who you want to work with. What brands are you interested in shooting? I encourage you to take a look through Instagram, and create a list in either a Word doc or a Numbers/Excel doc. This is what I do, and is the best way for me to keep track of who I'd like to contact.
An extra tip here: make sure your dream clients are relevant to where you are. For example, I live in Cornwall, so there would be no point in me setting my sights on working with very city focused, edgy brands (unless I was willing to travel or move to London). Are the brands you want to work with going to suit your environment?
2. Shoot a portfolio to attract your ideal client
Next, take a look at your portfolio. What kind of imagery is in there? When you compare your portfolio to the list of dream clients you've made, does your portfolio align with them? If not, it might need some work. When I first started contacting the brands I wanted to work with, I had a bit of a messy portfolio. I was shooting weddings still, and had lots of information about being a wedding photographer on my website. I knew this would be confusing, so either I had to create a second website for my wedding work, or stop shooting weddings. I chose to stop shooting weddings and focus on my brand work. If you want to work with brands, but still want to shoot weddings, it might be worth separating the two genres.
If you feel like there isn't enough work in your portfolio to really inspire the brands you want to work with, get out and shoot! The only way you'll be able to convince a brand that you're worth working with is if they can see images in your portfolio that align with their brand.
3. Create content to show your expertise
This step isn't the most important, but I do think it can help propel you further. Whenever brands land on my blog/podcast/Instagram (if they click through to it), they'll see that I've got loads of blog posts about content creation, social media, marketing, branding, and previous client work. Depending on who they are, they may know all of the stuff I'm sharing, so won't read it. But will it show that I understand marketing and social media? Yep, it will.
The content I share here shows my expertise, and that I'll be keeping all of that knowledge in mind when I'm shooting for their brands.
If the brand is much smaller, or the person behind it feels less experienced with marketing and social media, then not only will the images *hopefully* impress them, but the knowledge I've shared will be helpful to them, and build their trust in me.
Think about who you're targeting, and what might either impress them, or help them. Write those blog posts!
4. Follow the brands you want to work with closely
This might seem really obvious, but it's worth pointing out. Follow all the brands you want to work with, and engage with their content! Believe it or not, behind those accounts, no matter how big the following, there is one, or a small team of people, seeing your comments/likes. They'll recognise names more than you think. So engage and let them see your name. When you eventually email them (onto that next!) you'll be less of a stranger.
It's also important to do this so that you understand what kind of imagery they need, what content they create, and where their brand is going. It will help you come up with ideas that you can pitch to them, and impress them when you do speak to them, and they can see that you know you're stuff.
5. Pitch yourself
This is the most important part of all of this, and I know it's the part which will scare you the most! Don't let it. I've written an entire blog post about pitching yourself and I've even created a free email template that you can have when you sign up to my newsletter. So you have no excuse not to try!
You cannot sit back and wait for these brands to come to you. I guarantee you that it will speed up your career 500% if you put yourself out there. It's how I've gone on to create some of the biggest opportunities in my career, and I'm so happy that I did, because I wouldn't be here right now if I hadn't.
Remember how much value you can offer to them, remember how good you are at your job, and remember this: Never, ever have brands needed more imagery than they do in this digital age. There is more than enough work to go around, and there are endless amounts of brands and small businesses who need beautiful photos. So, get out there and show them what you can do for them!