If you’re looking for new business, want to expand your school portfolio or you’re launching your school photography business for the first time – you’re going to need some tips on how to win a school photography contract.
You can be a really experienced, talented photographer with great photos but, if you’re inexperienced in school photography, it can feel like a struggle. Not just in approaching schools for their business, but actually fulfilling the job.
Being self-employed means that you’re going to have to work twice as hard to carry out your work commitments and scout for new opportunities. The school photography industry is very competitive, so be prepared to work hard to gain some market share.
However, securing a school photography contract can be lucrative and lead to more schools enquiring about your services, so here are some factors to consider:
Plan your Approach
Sending a generic email about securing school photography contract to many people will probably result in it going to the wrong person and or ending up in a ‘junk’ folder. So, do your research and find out the specific staff members you need to contact.
A good start is to call the school and find out some information:
- Do they have a school photography contract in place at the moment? If not, why?
- If so, are they happy with the photographer or photography business? If not, what are they unhappy about? There may be nothing you can do about it but it is important to be aware of past experiences and it is always a good idea to manage expectations.
- Find out who is the main contact who deals with photography at the school. Are they the decision maker or is it the headteacher?
- In some areas of the country, there are Headteacher conferences which can be a good way of getting several leads. Make sure you get contact information at the time or, even better, book an appointment to visit the school.
After the call, you can work out what the school’s needs are. It could be that they are very happy with the photographers they are using. If this is the case, it is probably time to move on to your next contact. If you feel they would consider trying something new, then a visit to the school to speak with the decision makers is the next step. If there are Covid restrictions in place, you will probably have to make an appointment. You will need a brochure and samples to take with you.
Polish your Brochure
Ensure that your brochure is up-to-date for when you have your meeting. It needs to be well written and promote the best things about your service. Emphasise your unique selling points and really show off your love of photography. Reaching out to a specific school allows you to tailor your brochure to your target market and be more creative with your offering. Make sure there are plenty of great school photos that you have taken and avoid using stock images.
Highlight your past experience, give statistics and examples of your success, with testimonials if possible. Clearly communicate the features and benefits of your service. If writing isn’t a strength, then consider asking someone to check over your brochure and suggest edits.
Work on a Bid
As well as your brochure, create a proposal for each individual school. Look at their calendar of events and identify where and when they might need a photographer. Describe the packages you can offer in more detail and how they can benefit the school, including the multiple backdrops, products and services available.
This is also where you can go into detail about your rates and services. You can explain the package prices you offer, commission rates for the school, any discounts available, your individual rates for specific time-frames and sessions and set-up fees too.
What sets you apart from other photographers? What can you offer that is truly unique in the market? Consider tailoring your packages and showcasing products that meet the needs of the school. For example, do they have Year 6 Leavers – could a personalised composite product work here?
If you’ve made contact with the school and they don’t decide to use your services this time, then it’s worth sending a follow-up email thanking them for their time and a reminder of your contact details for the future. It could lead to opportunities further down the line. It can be worth revisiting the whole process for the school next year. Keep a spreadsheet and mark the ones that warrant a future call back.
Having booked the school and photographed the job, you have a large number of clients that are all extremely happy with the photographs you have produced. There is no reason that you couldn’t take this opportunity to market your other services to them with leaflets or vouchers going out with the completed orders. Hopefully encouraging more business your way.