Here's a little blog post I've put up about getting clients as a freelance photographer and where £200 spent on BARK took me.
Being a freelancer means attracting your own clients and OH MY GOD is that a challenge. I'm sure any small business owner can relate to 'better months and s***tier months for business'. The reality is... beginning of the year is usually the latter, unless you own a gym or a protein business
Here's a little sneak peek into what it's like to be me:
March started without a single photoshoot scheduled in the diary. Then some bad things happened aka personal life, and then some good things happened aka moving house, and then some bad things happened again, aka the C virus. In the middle of all this I got 4 bookings, all of which had more or less the same deadline. Then a mental breakdown happened. Now is the End of March, I've finished all the 4 shoots, and I have no jobs again.
Welcome to the world of freelancing, right?
I am so lucky to have a secure income from a portrait and product studio where I work 3 days every week. Apart from that, most of my clients come through Instagram, Google Ads, and direct pitches. Recently I've decided to try out a platform that everyone raves about.
Here's a little intro to how this brilliant platform works: You select what kind of service you provide (are you a cleaner, life coach, engineer, or a web developer? Well, you're in luck either way) and Bark shows you a constantly updated pool of leads from all over the UK. It looks like this:
You go through all the leads, see if there are any that are up your street, and you pay a certain amount of credits to be able to see their email address and phone number. Then it's all up to you to contact and convert them into paying clients.
Now £90 can give you enough credits to contact 5 people. £170 gives you 10 leads, and you can contact approximately 20 people with £300.
At first I thought it was the best thing in the world. I mean... I had leads for commercial jobs coming in every 5 minutes. I've made sure that I can only see the commercial photography enquiries and oh boy did I get excited. Yeh, excited enough to spend £200 and get no jobs. Literally. Not a single one. I can now say openly that BARK is the s***tiest platform I've ever been on.
Amongst many many factors that got me off the platform as soon as my credits were gone, was the fact that no one clarifies what is the product they are looking to get photographed. I mean... it can literally be anything. Cosmetics, bamboo toothbrushes, jewellery, plane engines, furniture... You name it. Here is what 95% of commercial photography leads look like:
I once called a guy 2 minutes after his lead got posted. He had 40 electronic devices and a form similar to the one above. He sounded great. However, he had 40 ELECTRIC GOLF CARTS to be photographed in a professional studio. I mean.. that's cool, I can use the studio I work at, but where the f*** would I keep 40 fat child sized electric golf carts? That lead cost me £15.
My personal experience shows that Bark has failed to understand that not every commercial photographer is based in London, has a warehouse studio, and can photograph 50 products for a £100 rate. Not everyone with a camera is a professional photographer of EVERYTHING. Not everyone with a camera can do:
High-end Still Life
I personally specialise in portrait, natural light, e-commerce, and jewellery photography and would have no clue where to start with photographing food, events, or real estate.
Back to BARK though. With many hours spent contacting people, following up their leads with calls, texts, and emails I gave up on every single Karen, Simon, Stuart, and Rajinder on Bark. Honestly, I gave up on that platform for good.
I feel like they started with an amazing idea that turned into a money making business. And I can't blame them. From a commercial photographer's point of view, Bark is great in theory, but immensely s***in practice. It might be amazing for all the before-mentioned cleaners and life coaches, however, there's a lot of work to be done to get professional photographers on board in the nearest future.
All in all, you might be much smarter with working your magic on BARK platform, who knows! The most important thing is that you find your own way to attract the right clients and the right tribe to work with in symbiosis.