How to attract your first clients
(and make sure they are the right ones)
Photographers have a saying called "show what you want to shoot," which basically encourages them to only post images of weddings or other work that they'd like to shoot again. It makes sense- most potential clients reach out because they liked something that you posted, and are looking either for the exact same thing for themselves, or with just a slight variation.
In the very beginning, when you haven't yet started attracting clients, it can be hard to know how to attract them or what to post about. You might think that you have to post the work that you're booking- work that you might not be 100% in love with. What I'd encourage you to do is to reverse engineer the whole thing!
Instead, use this time before you're booking clients consistently to improve your art, flex your creativity, and create the very best work you possibly can- the work you wish you were booking.
Flip the script on it's head and show the work you'd love to be doing... even if it isn't "real" aka for a paying client yet :)
Photo above: the first gift ever...
Except that it wasn't a gift at all! The box like thing you see isn't even a box, it's a wooden frame I bought at Michaels along with a single bag of crinkle paper. Throughout the first half of 2015 I went to as many beautiful boutiques as I could, buying just one of anything I thought was beautifully made and packaged. Sometimes I ended up reaching out to the company to establish a wholesale account later (see Herbivore Botanicals, Silver Needle Tea, Essie polish, Dram Apothecary tea, and Mast Brothers chocolate, but often I just used the products to create one-off gifts for clients who didn't exist yet. I made this gift leading up to Mother's Day, 2015 and received a handful of real life (!) orders! It was so much fun to create these gifts not based on actual clients, or actual budgets, but based solely on the limits of my own creativity- these were the orders I wished I was getting!
PS For a chuckle check out the visible comments on the photo above- that's my sister asking me if this is my first gift ever :)
Before you're booking your ideal client consistently,
Create the very best work you're capable of
What amazes me about looking at these gifts from the very, very beginning is actually not that they are weird or embarrassing or super different from what we create now... it's how similar they are to what we create now! The reason is that it's always been me, creating exactly what I loved and wanted to see in the market- not responding to what those very few clients were looking for.
Turning "fake" clients into real ones!
An example of how this worked for me:
Do you ever create products that are still more aspirational? Tell me about the funniest thing you ever created- and if it worked?
Photo: I made this box when our first huge corporate client asked to see examples of large-scale gifts we'd made in the past (lol- we didn't even have a website yet!) :)