You spend your days creating innovative landscapes. Clients are happy. You’re happy. You turn over the project and go on to the next.
But wait. Before you leave the job site for the last time, are you forgetting something? If you’ve completed a successful project and not taken photos of it, you’ve lost an opportunity. When you take photos of your work, you create a resource to help you sell the next job. However, capturing that photo isn’t enough. You’ve got to put it to work for your business. Here’s how.
Does your website feature a gallery of photos showcasing your best work? It should. Create an online portfolio of photos that highlight exemplary projects. Choose examples that make you feel proud. And don’t just throw a photo up there; tell a story about it. Write a description that explains what we’re seeing. Explain what the goal of the project was and how you accomplished it. If the client wanted a certain feel or theme, describe what you did to bring that to life. If there were special challenges you had to overcome, obstacles that you developed a creative solution to fix or circumvent, spell it out. Use your website as if it were a 24/7, full-color brochure on the internet. Be sure that the photos are high-quality, with professional lighting, if possible. Hiring a good photographer is worth the investment. It’s your website. Anyone visiting it wants to see examples of your work. That’s why they’re there! Remember to update your portfolio regularly. Don’t let it look outdated.
Instagram and Facebook are visual platforms. You need good pictures. The photos you put on your website portfolio can also be used on social media. What you can do on social media that you might not want to put in your portfolio are in-process shots. If you’re working on a cool project, and the client doesn’t object, you can show the progress of a landscape job from groundbreaking to installation to completion. Post photos right from your cell phone onto your business (not your personal) Facebook or Instagram accounts. People visiting these platforms expect cell phone photos, so professional-quality shots are not required. Posting job photos in this manner shows off your process and gives potential clients an insight into how you work and what they might expect if they hire you.
If you’re not on Houzz.com, put it on your calendar to create an account soon. Houzz allows you to post a comprehensive portfolio of your landscape design work. This social media site is dedicated to home project ideas and local sources for materials and services like yours. Write an extensive company overview here that tells potential clients exactly what you do, along with any other qualifications. Then create project portfolios that show your very best work. You can list your contact information, link to your website and even get messages and calls through the site. Potential clients can search for landscape contractors by location, so it’s an online resource for customers to find you. But first, you’ve got to be on there.
Brochures and print ads
Any printed content you create also needs good photos. Using photos of your actual projects, as opposed to buying stock photos, lends credibility. However, cell phone photos generally will not work for print pieces. Only professional photos should be used in printed brochures and ads. They need to look great and be high resolution for them to print properly.
No matter where you use photos of your projects, be sure that the photos are not only flattering of the project but also that the work site is clean, your staff is wearing any required safety equipment and that there isn’t anyone in the background doing anything odd or unseemly. If the client doesn’t want their project photographed, honor that. If you have permission, go ahead and put those photos to use to help you grow your reputation and your business.
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Stacie Zinn Roberts is an award-winning writer, marketing expert and founder of What’s Your Avocado? Marketing and Public Relations, Mount Vernon, Washington, which specializes in green industry marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.