Finding Jobs Through Offering Free Photos

I like FREE. I offer lots of things for free and I always end up coming out ahead. That doesn’t mean I give everything away but free is part of my business strategy.  You may remember the heated discussion about free that originated on the Blackstar blog and continued in the LinkedIn forums. Allow me to give you an example of how free can lead to paid – lot’s of getting paid.

Last week I went to vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. We got pretty lucky and our travel agent was able to secure a too good to refuse deal in a spectacular resort, the “Mauna Kea.” Upon our arrival we receive a welcome package that included the following coupon.

Get your portrait taken for free.

Free is irresistible for me especially when you are on vacation and you have nothing but time.  So my daughter and I scheduled our free session. The photographer and his wife are set up directly in the hotel and we saw them every morning and evening with smiling couples and happy families everywhere around the scenic hotel grounds.

That in itself is nothing much to talk about. What the genius part about this is that the photographer didn’t just photograph that one portrait that we were promised for FREE but he photographed a lot more. What I mean by that is a photo of the couple, the wife alone, the kids together, the family and each of the children separately. During pick-up you received an envelope with the order form as well as a quick machine print of each of the photographs after the photographers first rough edit.

What happens next is no surprise. Everyone ordered like crazy because of course you cannot decide which one is one free print. If you get a photo of one of your kids you need to get one each. Then you want all kids together and of course you must have the family picture. Finally you realize the last time you and your partner had your picture taken was when you got married, so you want that, too. How can your partner say no to that portrait of you gazing over the ocean especially when you look as good as you do when you are on a great vacation in an exotic location?

I saw one of the moms staring at the images and concluding that she couldn’t decide which ones she liked best and she ended up ordering quite a few. Not hard to imagine that this happens all the time. The photographer physically mails the finished and higher quality prints, framed or unframed via mail when the job order is completed.

How does that relate to you? If you are a portrait photographer and live in a large or small place that gets some amount of tourism, why don’t you scout for a similar opportunity? Do the exact same thing I just described above. The hotel or place of business probably won’t mind as it’s an extra incentive they can offer to their guests.

To round this up. Aside from loving this idea and the marketing the order process and some the poses where to generic for me. The order list was very similar to the school picture order form and I hate being taken to the cleaners on those package deals. But, that may just be me and my experience in this indsutry. I do suggest to be a little bit more creative about your package deals.

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