Starting out is always tough. But when you’re in a creative business, it can be even tougher. Clients want proof of your abilities and skills. They want to see what you can do before they’ll give you a chance to do it. The odd photo in a portfolio just doesn’t cut it anymore. Clients want to be immersed in your creative work. They want to feel it and experience it in every way. When you’re just starting out, and you have no customer feedback or examples, how on earth can you score those contracts that you’re so hungry for?
Showcasing your talents is essential. But you need to go far beyond that weathered and worn photo album. If you can’t afford a studio or big office, then why not use your home? The personal touch for a business meeting can actually go a long way. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t look professional. After all, most architects live in their own creations. It’s essential you let your clients see that.
So get out there and start building, making, designing and creating. Put what you can do into your home. If you design garden furniture, fill your garden with samples of your work. You may need a little investment to buy the things you need. Of course, if you’re showcasing outside, you might need things like a waterproof glue from Kenyon Adhesives or specialist tools to complete the job. But once it’s done, your product exists. It’s no longer a sketch on a bit of paper, or a verbal description. Your client can sit on it, touch it, see it, and physically understand what you can create.
The same goes for photographers, graphic designers, and other artists. What interests your clients most might be your process. Bring them to your studio, even if it’s just a spare bedroom in your house. Don’t feel embarrassed. A small set-up that is effective and produces the results your client is looking for can be very attractive. Let them experience what happens while you create, not just the polished, finished product.
Even today, YouTube is underused by start-up businesses. You don’t need to hire a professional video production company to create a good marketing video. After all, it’s you the client is hiring, not just a piece of your work. They want to know who you are, what makes you tick, and that you’re someone they can work with. A video that demonstrates how you create what you make can be very interesting visually. Not every detail is essential, just the big reveals as progress continues. Who knows, it may even go viral!
It’s so important to produce samples and examples of your work. Too many creatives try to talk their way into good contracts while they still have nothing to show. You may be put off by the unpaid hours and the cost of materials and tools. None of it guarantees work at the end of it, and that’s hard to take. But it’s the proactive entrepreneur that scores the contract. Writers write, painters paint, and pianists play. It’s a way of life, regardless of the income it generates.