Is there a “secret” to finding new clients for your business and for paid work? Well, one thing is certain in your career: you’re always going to need to create the best content and images you can—and create a lot of them.
Like with SEO, it takes time to see results from your efforts. But it only takes one post to go viral. One post to be noticed by the right people. One post for that client to connect with you.
The work you put in today? It’s going to benefit you in the future. And you will get noticed by the right people—but you have to give it time. The biggest mistake most people make is quitting too quickly.
Let’s dive into how you can get started finding new clients for your business and secure paid work.
Finding Clients: Leveraging What Works For Others
Start by trying strategies that you learn from others—but don’t expect that they’ll all work for you or yield the same results. Figuring out what works for you and your business will require some degree of experimentation. Find a starting point and then test, adjust, and master.
Remember, too, that just because a particular strategy doesn’t work for you right now doesn’t mean that it won’t work in the future. It also doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good enough. It is—for the right client.
Pushing through in the face of uncertainty is the hardest part about being a freelance photographer. But you can do it. You’ve got this.
WATCH — Failures & Setbacks: 10 Years of Running a Food Photography Business.
Researching and Finding Clients
When it comes to researching clients, most photographers will open Instagram and make a list of brands they want to work for. Easy peasy—but it’s not that simple when finding new clients.
What really matters is finding the types of brands that are the best fit for your level of experience and image quality. That isn’t always so easy.
So who can clients be? Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Large or small brands with food or lifestyle products
- Large or small magazines
- Local publications
- Branding and social media agencies
- Local cafes and restaurants
- Small startup brands and local businesses
- Small international businesses
- Stock agencies
- Chefs, bloggers, business owners, and personalities
Feeling overwhelmed? I can relate.
Instead of creating a long list of clients all at once, try spending your time on social media a little more wisely. Start small while still keeping an eye on larger clients you’d like to work with. Remember that small doesn’t always equal no budget! I’ve worked with lots of small businesses culminating in commissions of more than $10,000 over time.
A Rundown of My Clients
Work can come from many different places, so be open. With that in mind, I want to share some of the types of clients that I’ve worked with. Some of them approached me, and some of them I approached.
- National and international publications
- Local and state-based publications
- Local restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars
- Small publishers creating magazines, bookazines, and books
- International supermarket chains
- Social media and production agencies who need social and editorial content for clients
- Small businesses—butchers, online tea stores, dieticians, naturopaths, tablewares and pottery, food brands, health coaches, authors
- International food and hotel chains
One of the best things about food photography is that you can do it remotely. It’s the reason I’ve worked on some crazy assignments—a burger menu for a Malaysian restaurant chain, colour-themed imagery for sample print brochures for an Italian luxury paper company, and images for a UK bakery to name just a few!
More clients need our images than you can imagine. My hope is that this gives you some insight into the different avenues that you can explore for finding the right clients for you.
Have a free work opportunity? Learn which opportunities and worth it and how to handle them.
Interested in learning more about the business of food photography? Read all of the articles in our Food Photography Business Series: