“What’s the best way to get clients”? This is a question we get a lot at the TBA and for good reason. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this, I’d be sitting on a beach drinking pina colada’s and not writing this blog in the freezing Melbourne weather!
Nobody wants to spend their hard-earned moolah on their dream course and then struggle to recoup their investment. While this is not an exhaustive list, and some of my tips will cost you a bit more time and money, they are a sure-fire way to get your new business up and thriving:
Get a website
Every business needs to start somewhere and my first point of call was a basic, yet professional looking website. For the first 2 years, it didn’t cost me a cent! There are many free site builders out there like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace etc. I chose WordPress for my site as I had zero experience in setting up a website. I found it quite intuitive and easy to use. It took me through step by step for the free site and after a few years I upgraded to a premium account which came with its own email address.
If you don’t have a website – get one!
I know a lot of people have amazing photos of their work and they love to put them up as their social media profile, changing them every week or few months but my advice is… DON’T! Consistent branding is exceptionally important in business. Having a logo or an identifier that singles you out as you and what you stand for is what every big company pays a lot of cash to PR companies for. Think Nike, Adidas, Victoria’s Secret, Cadbury, Coke, Microsoft, Apple… I could go on for days, but I think you get my drift. Find something that you love, and that will stand the test of time and plaster it across all your platforms. If you’re stuck for idea’s, have a look at fiver or Airtasker. You can post your job and budget on those sites and someone will do it for you.
You need a website to set up a Google Ad. These are simple and straight forward, just sign up, pick your key words, location, budget etc. and your good to go. Traffic to my website tripled in the first month that I used this… although it probably wasn’t a good idea to do it just as I was going on holidays, but hey, you live and learn!
I only post professional pictures of my work on my website. You don’t have to take this route, it’s just what I have chosen to do. In order to keep up a steady stream of updated work I have collaborated in several Trade for Prints (TFP) or more commonly these days, trade for digital images. I trade my time, expertise and products and collaborate with a professional photographer, model and stylist and we all get professionally edited pictures for our portfolios.
A word to the wise on this one… please be careful! Make sure you do your research on the people you are working with beforehand. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and you might be a newbie and wanting to hone your skills, so might the photographer or the model. Just make sure you know what you are in for before the day. There is nothing worse when you get the pictures back and they are awful for one reason or another. Don’t let it put you off, but just be aware that these things can happen when people are learning.
Networking is like TFP but I’d add assisting other artists in this category as well. If you admire someone’s work on Instagram, contact them and ask them if they have any assisting opportunities. I would consider this almost an unpaid internship. If you are doing the asking, don’t expect to be paid (but if you do #winning!!). If you are asked by another artist, then you should be getting paid – and not in ‘exposure’ either. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills, but networking with selective people can put you on a path to something amazing.
There are many more ways to build your client base that I haven’t listed here. If you have a tried and tested way that’s worked for you, list it in the comments.