Collaborating with Local Vendors to Build Your Business

A few weeks ago I had this bright idea to style/stage a photoshoot and I wanted to use local or semi-local vendors to help me bring the idea in to fruition. I reached out to the women linked at the bottom of this post and they said yes! Today, I want to share with you all some very important benefits of collaborating with local vendors to build your business and some tips that I have to offer on how to do so:

1. Practice, practice, practice

This has been the most helpful for me out of all the things that will be listed. I hate not “delivering” to my client as a photographer and I know that even though I’ve grown in my photography since I’ve started I still have so much room to grow. My recent styled collaboration gave me the opportunity to practice with a new lens, practice getting the perfect angles, and to most importantly mess up without the fear of disappointing a paying client. Recently, I found myself comping one shoot and discounting another because I haven’t conquered shooting in harsh light yet and I lost out on money. This, is something I can use a collaboration to practice on aside from the obvious private practice that I would do another time.

2. Exposure

A lot of times you’ll hear from people that exposure isn’t putting money in your pockets and that’s only half true. When doing free work for the right people, it could actually end up being super profitable for you in the end. I know for myself there are many people that have no clue that I even exist and more less that I’m a photographer and with that being said, if you can tap in to the clientele of those that you’re collaborating with and even possibly become one of their preferred vendors that could potentially lend you an even more profitable outcome. Let your contribution to the collaboration speak for itself and the exposure you get through the other vendors draw people in your direction.

Side note: Be sure to discuss the terms of the collaboration so that everyone is on the same page and even make it legal (if you deem it necessary) by creating a contract reflecting all terms of agreement and require that all parties sign it before doing the collaboration enabling everyone to be on the same page going forward and keeping everyone’s behind is covered incase someone grows a wild hair.

3. All inquiries won’t be a yes

This one, I’m sure you know but I thought I’d mention it anyway; all of the inquiries/request that you petition vendors with will not be accepted. I know I’ve emailed quite a few vendors in the Wilmington area and received no answer, but at the same time I walked in a bakery a few days ago, showed my work and they gave me their card and told me to contact them when I’m ready to work. Some people will be ready and willing, some may take some convincing, and others will hit you with a hard pass but, never the less, the people that you’re meant to work with, you will work with no questions asked. Also, who knows, the very people that turned you down at first may see someone that they know working with you and then decide they want to recant their previous denial and work with you as well; that goes back to number two and gaining exposure. Lets be real, we all creep on our competitors pages or just other people in our industry that we admire to see what they’re up to and sometimes seek out the opportunity to work with some of the same people.

4. Network = Net Worth

When collaborating with other vendors and providing pleasant experiences for them, you are building your network. Maybe I heard it in a rap song back in the day or maybe it just makes sense to me but in my mind lately I’ve been repeating, “Your network equals your net worth.” That part of my net worth I will be working on building in 2020. Collaborating with other vendors allows you the opportunity to increase your net worth by not only exposure to their clientele for networking opportunities with their business contacts. Be warned, some people are extremely guarded with these things because they’ve worked hard to get them themselves, and I’m sure we can all understand that, but at the same time, others are a little more willing and ready to help you build your network and will offer their contacts and knowledge to aid in you doing so.

All of this being said, I’ve inserted some pictures below of the styled shoot we did this past Sunday! I hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions you all have about the post and pictures, which can also be found here with some of my other work, and would also love to hear your own experiences and tips for working with local vendors and how it’s shaped your business!

xoxo, The Sandpaper Doll

Decor – Erica Johnson Events | Cake – Sweet Melodee’s Simply Divine Desserts
Dress – Blush Bridal Boutique | Makeup Artist: Brittany Bell

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