As is the case with every type of business venture, in order to gain clients as a retoucher, it is necessary to become a master of self promotion. Marketing is a critical component of your overall plan if you are to achieve real success in this field. Your brilliant portfolio will be of little use if nobody ever has a chance to see it. At this stage in your evolution as a retouching professional and Photoshop expert, you should have an impressive collection of before-and-after images ready to show prospective clients. It is essential to seek customers in conventional as well as online settings, and taking advantage of every opportunity to dazzle them must be a top priority at all times.

Your central (but by no means only) target market should include:

  • Professional Photographers
  • Art and Creative Directors
  • Advertising Agency Personnel
  • Design Professionals
  • Print and Reprographic Professionals
  • Final Product Clients
  • Conventional/Offline Clients

The key to securing the business of these types of clients is to identify their workplaces, unearth their contact information and effectively communicate to them the unrivaled level of retouching services you have to offer. Begin with online directories that encompass your target industries and whittle the information down to the names, addresses and phone numbers of powerful decision makers. For instance, use listings and directories featuring local photographers to isolate those who specialize in high-quality work. These are the professionals most likely to be interested in hiring a skilled digital retoucher. Establish an account with Skype.com in order to keep your overhead low, and place a call to each contact. Ask if they would be interested in receiving an emailed link to your online portfolio. In this way, you can begin to build a marketing contact list that will be extremely useful down the road once your skills and experience have grown.

There is no substitute for an in-person meeting when it comes to winning clients. While some newcomers to the retouching field may lack the confidence necessary for such interactions, face-to-face meetings offer a terrific opportunity to make a strong, memorable impression. Professionals are far more inclined to hire people with whom they feel a natural affinity, and personal meetings are perhaps the most effective way to foster such a connection.

Online Clientele
Your online campaign to attract clients will likely focus on the same categories of professionals as your offline efforts, but you will have several more techniques and tools at your disposal. After you have created a stunning sampling of your work as a retoucher and placed it on a professional-looking website, the key is to attract as many visitors as possible. There is no such thing as too much networking as a means to making that happen.

Your own website should by no means be your sole online presence. It is worthwhile to post images to free portfolio websites whenever possible. That way, you will reach a broader cross-section of potential clients and will have the ability to build links to your own website. This will help you achieve more favorable search engine page rankings. It is important to carefully review the terms of service of every portfolio site to which you post images.

A few of the best portfolio sites include:

  • www.flickr.com
  • www.behance.net
  • www.deviantart.com
  • www.carbonmade.com

In addition to displaying your work on various websites, it is important to venture into the realm of social networking. Research which blogs and forums are most popular with those in your target market and become an active participant. Get personally involved by asking and answering questions and making useful contributions to the community discussion. The overall goal is to establish yourself as a Photoshop authority and expert digital retoucher while also creating awareness about the array of professional services you offer.

Particularly useful social networking sites include:

  • www.linkedin.com
  • www.facebook.com/page (maintain a separate page each for professional and personal use
  • www.twitter.com

You should establish an account with each of these social networking sites, take the time necessary to provide complete profile information and make sure all account settings are optimized for maximum exposure.

If the steps outlined above seem far too overwhelming to tackle on your own, simply take advantage of just some of the sites listed above and see where those connections lead. It is also possible to outsource a great deal of marketing work by using websites such as:

  • www.craigslist.org
  • www.fiverr.com
  • www.elance.com

Placement Firms/Recruiters
If none of the above strategies seem feasible or appealing to you, there is also the option of registering with professional placement firms able to assume the work of marketing your services to potential clients. On one hand, this solution takes the hassle of marketing off of your plate and frees you to focus on your art, but on the other hand, the recruiter must be paid by someone. In most cases, the client is responsible for paying the recruiting firm’s fees. This makes you a more expensive hire than a candidate who did not utilize a recruiter in order to win the job. It is not uncommon for recruiters to simply email information about your background and skills to their list of contacts and do little else but wait for an opportunity to arise. The truth is that your interests and those of a professional recruiter may not always be identical, and you will likely get far better results if you are the one responsible for marketing your talents.

Winning Business Through Word of Mouth
Following all of the strategies above will gradually result in the creation of a solid clientele. It is unrealistic to expect immediate results, because only with time and serious effort will real growth occur. There is nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction that comes with landing a new client who specifically sought your services due to a recommendation from someone they trust.

Tips on Pricing
There are a few crucial concepts to keep in mind on the subject of pricing your work. Avoid the temptation of slashing your rates simply to win a job. Furthermore, you should never agree to do free work just to build up your reputation. The unintended consequences of such actions will surely include devaluation of your work and damage to your brand. It is important to always price your work in line with market rates, and do not engage in competition based on price. If you have marketed yourself strategically, you can avoid miserly clients altogether, saving yourself the inevitable hassle of late or nonexistent payments.

Best of luck as your career progresses, and do let me know whether you have found the above information to be helpful in your endeavours.

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