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Laura Karpinski's picture

Gaining clients

Hello everyone!
I am curious to know the methods you employ in gaining new clients. Perhaps even how you first started out and how those methods have evolved. Hardest parts? Most cost effective?

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Paul richard's picture

Good question, also curious what those of you with experience have to share.

As a graphic and web designer I design some menus for clients but I have not been the one to go out and get the clients yet. I will be traveling abroad from 2020-2022 and will be freelancing so curious to hear how others have done it. My current plan is I am creating a series of PDF's to showcase to restaurants. 3 PDF's for my 3 services I plan to offer, food photography, menu design and website development.

For food photography in my PDF I highlight a case study of photos a restaurant had before and after the company I work for rebranded them. As well as photos I have taken of food that I think stand out.

I showcase industry tips and data on why photos are important, how they lead to more sales and drive customers to specific items etc.

I also have a customer intake form so I understand exactly what the client is looking for.

(photos in restaurant I have not taken yet I have just edited the images taken and designed the menu so I want to update the PDF before freelancing to photos I have personally taken.)

My current plan to get clients is to walk into the business sit down for a meal and write down areas of improvement I can currently see for there menu, social media, website etc, and offer them a free consultation and free advice. Then give them my rates if they want to move forward with me doing the work.

Hoping that after the first client in a new city they will let other friends who run businesses know and get me more clients before I move to another city. I have no problem talking to people and find this process fun so while traveling I will try and do this at least 3 times everyday hoping one bites.

p.s I wrote this really fast hope Its not full of too many mistakes and hard to read ;)

Laura Karpinski's picture

I'm curious to know where you get the info about the restaurant data. Just a web search?

Scott Spellman's picture

My food photography career started when an event client asked me to shoot food for their new restaurant venture. Since then I have photographed 1000+ restaurants for their marketing, magazines, food festivals, and food delivery services.

I have had almost all my business through direct personal referrals, ad agencies, magazine editors, and event sponsors/partners. Less than 5% of my business has come from general marketing or web searches.

IMHO food photography alone is not enough to support a full business until you combine it with event/travel/real estate/etc photography.

Its really important to understand your market. Your best food clients will be new independent restaurants at a medium to high price point. You will get very little real business from national or regional chains or casual food places.. Make lists of restaurants now doing print advertising in magazines, newspapers, and travel guides since you know they have a marketing budget. Try to connect with the managers/owners in person or through social media. Going to a restaurant to take a great photo of one dish is a better investment that spending the same amount on random digital advertising. 4 by 6 postcards with your work is the best hands on marketing tool.

Creating a food media brand such as a blog or IG will help you connect with local clients. When you get 3000+ followers, restaurants will start to see value in exposure through you. You can share the photos of your target clients and blend with your own to establish yourself as a food expert. Working freelance for a large national blog like Eater or even smaller local food writers will also boost your reputation. Best of luck.