💯💯💯 "Having that list of clients you'd like to work with gives you a visual frame of reference from where you are currently, to where you want to go. Think of it as your roadmap."
EP 18: Not having a system for your leads is a sure-fire way to lose sight of who you need to contact and how to market to them. Starting with a client list or a lead list is important for every freelancer to chart where they are now and where they want to go. In this episode, I'll break down what information needs to be on your client list so you can hit more of your freelancing goals.
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Michael Der 0:02
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.
Hey, what's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of entrepreneurs. so thrilled for you to join me today as I dive into a really important managerial skill set for creatives, which is all about building a client list. Now, personally speaking, I am a sucker for a good system. And the reason why I love systems is not because I'm so organized by nature. In fact, it's really kind of the opposite. I'm really disorganized by nature. And so systems for me have become an important part of my day-to-day operations because I really rely on them. I need them. I need to be reined in. Otherwise, I am a disaster. I'm all over the place. Because the reality is there are just too many hats. A self-employed, creative has to wear. I've mentioned this before, you are the CEO, you are the CMO, the CFO, you even handle the legal matters for crying out loud. So when you add up all the responsibilities that need to be attended to your tasks become increasingly difficult to keep track of, who do I need to follow up with today? When was the last point of contact with this lead that I send any print promotion to this client? So if you have a typical right-brained creative, like myself in charge of a company without systems in place to track to manage to follow up on? Could you imagine how many areas of the business are going to suffer? I'll give you the answer. It's a shit ton. So today, I want to quickly go over the information that you should be tracking on your client list and why building one even matters.
Now for the most part, I am going to be referring to a list of prospective clients or clients that you want to work with as opposed to clients that you're currently working with. That being said I will allude to having clients you currently work with on the list as well because I do believe that data can be useful and before I go any further I will say this is of higher importance for b2b photographers to create to manage than b2c photographers, b2b photographers who shoot commercial and editorial work like e-commerce, fashion news and lifestyle, they will directly market and pitch to their leads more often than not, and therefore they need to consistently update their client list. b2c photographers, though who photograph individuals for non-commercial use, like wedding and engagement photography, they typically aren't going to market directly to individuals because it's going to come off like spamming. I mean, if I were recently engaged and had a photographer I didn't know call me up out of the blue and asked me to shoot my wedding, I'd probably feel a little uncomfortable about it. So b2c photographers tend to rely on different approaches to marketing like word of mouth, third-party marketing, social media. But that's for a another episode. So today, we're going to mostly focus on b2b freelancers.
So I'm going to go over three essential benefits to creating a monitoring a client list. Reason number one is that it acts as a vision board for your goals. And this is something that can sometimes be forgotten about as you go through the daily grind. This was something I was notoriously bad at for a few years starting out, I never wrote down clients I wanted to work with, I just kept them in my head, figuring I'd come back to them later. But what would happen on occasion is I'd sit down and reflect one day and say, didn't I want to reach out to that one magazine? Didn't I want to make a project to showcase to that brand? So writing these things down keeps you reminded of your goals. And the wonderful byproduct of putting your goals down on paper, in my opinion, is that those dreams become tangible, they become real, it's no longer just conceptual, it's actually conceivable. So having that list of clients you'd like to work with gives you a visual frame of reference from where you are currently, to where you want to go. Think of it as your roadmap.
So the first part, the first step, I would suggest is to list down clients you'd like to work with, without really editing it. If you were ever taught a creative writing class, when you were young, you were probably taught about a stream of conscious writing, which is when you basically just word vomit, everything that comes to mind on paper, the teacher would always say don't fixate on one perfect sentence, just revise it later. Right now we just want to get into a flow, which is what I want you to do. So no matter how big the dream is, no matter how far fetched it seems to be shooting for this client, write it down, then start thinking of similar clients that may not have been at the top of your list, but want to provide a similar platform that you'd love to collaborate with. And then after that, start thinking of clients that might be a little bit less known. Maybe they are a niche publication or a smaller company that doesn't have a huge presence just yet. Again, it's just about getting it on paper. And just for the sake of exercise, let's just stop at around a list of 20 names. Now we can start revising.
The first thing I like to look for is a balance of commercial and editorial clients. That's important to me, doesn't have to be 50/50. But I like having a blend of creative and lucrative jobs. So that's really important. The next aspect I look at is fit. Who am I ideally suited to help in terms of my skill set and my style? If 90% of my list has better photography than what I can produce, then it's a good indication that I have way too many reach clients written down. I'm all for applying too hard In Yale, but maybe you might want to have a few safety schools written down just in case, what's important is that you have clients written down that you can help right now, that is not only to give you confidence in your pitch, but it's also going to give you momentum in your career as you start to pick up more and more jobs. Also, keep in mind folks that you're going to have to get contact information for these clients that are on your list. So make sure that you have some that are actually attainable. Ask yourself, Is it easy to get ahold of the creative team for LeBron James? Or is it maybe easier to get ahold of a fitness trainer looking to build her brand.
So as you revise your list to a mixture of safety clients and reach clients, start getting contact information for all of them. When you find them, put them next to your clients names, whatever you can get, maybe it's a phone number, maybe it's an email, a social media handle a mailing address, this part might just take a little bit of time to research and find the appropriate person to contact, I would suggest looking at editors first at the publication or brand. Once you've reached out to these clients, start jotting down the date that you reached out, then make a notation if you were responded to and jot down what method you use, whether it was a phone call, or an email or a direct message. tracking this data is important. And it's going to lead me to my second reason for creating a client list.
So Reason number two to create your client list is that it charts your progress. As a good friend of the show, James Patrick has stated what is measured can be improved upon. Sometimes what we tell ourselves in our head is quite different than what is actually true. It might feel like I did everything to get the attention of this brand. But if the chart states that I only reached out three times by email and never once picked up the phone or send a promo or tried to connect through LinkedIn, did I really do much of anything, this data is going to keep you in check and keep you accountable. Try determining a reasonable time to reach out again without being annoying. Maybe you feel comfortable that once every two weeks, you'll touch base again with a cold lead. Now I don't know about you, but I can't remember four days ago, let alone 14 days ago. So keep track of this communication and see what areas need more TLC. I know many people who are simply uncomfortable calling people on the phone, make it a goal to at least check off that box that you attempted to call a lead and talk to somebody in person. Maybe you've never sent a print promotion to anyone because you thought it's not worth it. We'll give it a try and make note of what happens next, you might find that the data suggests it yields a higher response rate. And if you do make contact, congratulations. But make note on what that conversation actually led to? Did it lead to work? Did the editor say we're busy now. But check back with us in the fall? Were they able to refer you to others did they put you in touch with a different person at the publication?
This information is important in identifying who was responsive, and what methods are actually working, you'll be able to empirically determine whether a person responds faster to emails or phone calls or even text. And anytime you can truly understand how to communicate with the people that you interact with most, you'll vastly improve your relationships. So the last reason to create a client list is that it makes marketing a habit as opposed to an action that you take only when you're inspired to get work. That's the issue I have with employee mindsets. If you have consistent work, then chances are you lack the motivation to market to new clients. It's human nature. So we need to combat that in building routine for consistent marketing so that it becomes second nature. And if you have a name on the board that you haven't contacted in three months, that's a good sign to either reach out or move on and put another lead on the board. And because I'm jotting down this extra data on my client list, I know who I have, and haven't done promos for.
Another friend of the show, Alexis Cuarezma, has said that this business is very literal, you have to show people that you can do the job. So look at the clients you want to work with shoot a project as if you were commissioned by that client, and then send them a promotion sample of what you can do. Maybe it's in the version of a print magazine layout, or maybe it's something like a small email flyer or the way jot next down to your leads, who you've created a specific shoot for.
So let me give you an overview of the information that I have on my client list and what it actually looks like. I personally use an Excel spreadsheet and split it into seven different columns. So column one is called leads. This is the list of all the publications and all the companies that I'd like to work with. So remember that it's good to have a balance of attainable prospects and reach prospects. column two is the name and the role of the person that I want to contact. So an example would be Jane Doe photo editor. Getting people's titles and names might be a little bit time-consuming, take time to figure that out. But research is a big part of marketing. So prioritize the people who you can get a hold of the next three columns are all contact information. So column number three, I put four phone numbers, column number four is an email address. And column five is a mailing address, column six I call promos. And this is to let me know if I plan on making a personal shoot dedicated to that specific client. If I have one done, I put a checkmark in the final column. column number seven is the widest one. And I leave it this way because I plan on jotting down all the data here, this column I call attempt and how I note the attempt is first by date second by method. So let's say I send a cold email to a new client on the Third of May. So I will write down five three and then in parentheses, the letter E for email. If I get a response back from anyone or actually get a hold of anyone, I simply highlight that date and change the color to signify that I made contact.
And so that is my simple list. I encourage you to make yours however you'd like it to be. Keep an open tab on your computer at all times for this. And if you're finding that you intentionally neglect it, make a printout of it, put it on your office wall. So you see it every day. Draw it on a whiteboard, if you need to use colors and highlighters to make it feel more exciting as opposed to something that is grim and ominous. incentivize yourself with deadlines, and then put stickers on your chart every time you achieve a small goal, like picking up the phone or converting a lead to a client. I know it's corny, but no joke, it can work. No, none of the marketing is going to be easy, even for the highly outgoing and social people. Marketing for me takes a lot of time. It takes patience. It takes time to research it takes courage to put yourself out there. I struggle with this all the time, I face constant imposter syndrome, and I hate rejection. But you know what is easy. This list, give yourself 10 minutes to write down all the names you want to work with. Maybe you don't list 20 maybe you make it more concise, like the five clients who want to work with this quarter. If that focus is your goals, awesome. I'm all for it, you just have to start somewhere goals without a plan rarely come true. So use this as your vision board. Keep charting your progress so you can visualize where you need to focus your energy. And before you know it, you're going to hit more of your freelancing goals.
And with that, that is going to wrap up my time today. I hope this information has been of some help to everybody here. It's my honor to have you tuned into the program so be sure to follow us on Instagram at Artrepreneurspod and share this episode with others. We'll be back next Friday with fresh new content everybody. My name is Michael Der and this is Artrepreneurs season one. See you next time and have a great week.
Hey everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at entrepreneurs pod. We've also launched our website Artrepreneurspod.com. It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out entrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five-star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone. See you next week.