Monday, March 30, 2009
Finding work: Craigslist
I've been making a reasonable effort to network myself - every time I leave the house for any kind of social event (going to see a band, attending some sort of performance, etc), I've been bringing my camera, and trying to make a point of meeting potential clients and/or leads. Showing people my work on my phone, exchanging contact information, brainstorming - all good stuff.
As of right this second, none of these leads/contacts have bared any fruit.
I'm not extremely worried about it (yet), as I know that the name of the game is quantity. As long as I keep making contacts, one of them is _bound_ to lead to something.
One of my favorite tricks for finding stuff online - in this case, jobs - is to set up RSS feeds based on cragislist searches. [If anyone is interested in how to do this, let me know; it's the bomb.] So I've set up a handful of various search feeds looking for various iterations of "photographer wanted" in the NYC metro area. I've replied to about half a dozen or so in the past two weeks, and, for whatever reason, I haven't heard back from a single one.
Now, this isn't entirely shocking to me, because I still have to put together a professional looking website, with a good-looking portfolio. But I figured that it couldn't hurt to get started by being frank and casual in my emails, and include some links to some of my work on flickr.
Earlier today, I started thinking: "Obviously, if they're not getting back to me, then they're getting back to someone else. What have they got that I don't have?"
So I had an idea - "I'll post an ad of my own, looking for a photographer! That way, I can see what the competition looks like." And that's exactly what I did. I used the most recent ad I'd replied to as a base, changed a few things around, and posted it.
Within 30 minutes of posting the ad, I got two replies.
Within five hours, I've gotten over a dozen.
While I believe that this little ploy of mine was a stroke of genius, it's also been quite an eye-opener. There are LOTS of folks out there gunning for this kind of work.
There are several interesting things I've noticed as well: some people reply with very detailed messages, going so far as to include pictures in their emails, while others keep it super bare-bones. One guy replied with his rates as the subject of the email, and the body of the message was just his signature with his contact info. There were a surprising number of poorly written messages (by which I mean grammatical and spelling errors), as well.
So right now, part of me feels a little discouraged and daunted, but another part of me is kind of excited - as if I've cracked some sort of system, and now I've got all of this juicy data to sift through.
I'm going to leave the post up for a full 24 hours, and then spend some time sorting through the competition's replies.
In the time that I've been writing this (on and off for the past hour), I've received another three replies.