How To Make A Successful Pitch

Inspiration, photography tips

Today I’m going to explain how to pitch an idea to a brand. A pitch is basically a proposal or idea that you have for working with a company, in exchange for a trade, collaboration, or to be paid. This can often be a great deal for both parties, because you can offer your services and trade the company for whatever you’re looking for–from a free night’s stay at a hotel to a music festival ticket to clothes from a particular brand you love.

Pitching to organizations or businesses can be really intimidating, but it’s not as hard as you think. In my experience, if you have a solid idea and approach the business thoughtfully, they are very likely to work with you. Here’s what I do!

1. Formulate an Idea & Decide Who To Pitch To

The first thing you need to do is come up with an idea. Something a lot of people don’t realize is you can brainstorm ideas for projects on your own and pitch them to any brand or business, and they might say yes! I do this all the time with brands that are aligned with mine, and it’s a great way to collaborate, extend my outreach, and get awesome products. In the past, I’ve pitched doing photoshoots for social media for food brands such as YumButter, Ona, and EPIC. I’ve asked for a free ticket to a music festival in exchange for photos, a night’s stay at a hotel, and I’ve pitched clothing and product brands in exchange for free swag.

The options are essentially endless, as long as you make sure that the brand you’re reaching out to aligns well with yours. If you do all portrait photography, asking a food company to shoot product shots wouldn’t make much sense. If you’re a wedding photographer, asking for concert tickets isn’t very likely to work. Start thinking of brands you interact with on a daily basis–ads you get as you scroll social media, products in stores you shop in, etc. Once you know the brand you want to work with, come up with a pitch idea that relates to your and their brand. Don’t be vague. Have a specific idea in mind, like planning to pitch a Valentine’s Day lifestyle shoot to a flower company, or an on-the-go shoot for a granola bar brand.

2. Put Together a Pitch Deck

The next step is to create a pitch deck, which is basically a proposal that you create for the company you want to work with. This doesn’t have to be a 20-page document. It can be as simple as 3-4 pages containing the synopsis of the idea, examples of your previous work, and a mood board for the shoot. You should include your information, a link to your portfolio, the concept, and what you’re looking for in the trade.

Taking a little bit of time to create an aesthetically pleasing pitch can really go a long way in getting brands to notice you. Many people simply message a business on Instagram DM or drop them an email, so if they open yours and you have a PDF that looks like you’ve invested more than 5 minutes creating, that immediately makes you stand out.

3. Curate a Thoughtful Email

Draft an email to the brand and attach the pitch. Then give a summary of your idea in the body of the email. Here are a few questions that your email should answer:

  • Who are you and what do you shoot?
  • What is your project or idea about?
  • Are there any important dates/deadlines (i.e. if the shoot is Valentine’s Day themed and time sensitive)?
  • How will you do it?
  • Where did the creative inspiration come from?
  • Why should we feature this?

I’ve attached a few proposals that I’ve recently created to give you an idea of what to create. Canva is a great free resource that let’s you create proposals and PDFs, so if you haven’t tried it yet, I’d highly recommend it. This first pitch is for Getaway House, a brand that focuses on adorable tiny cabins for people to rent to get out of the city. I asked to trade a photoshoot of 20 images for one night’s free stay. They ended up accepting my proposal.

This was a really fun one. I saw Babeland stores around NYC and loved the pink theme. Since that’s super on-brand for me, I reached out and told them I’d love to do a shoot in exchange for free product. Not only did they love the idea and the resulting photos, but they later hired me to shoot a campaign for them. So, it can also be awesome exposure.

This pitch was for a contest for a free music festival ticket at Electric Forest in exchange for photography. You can get creative with it too! Who said a proposal had to be one paragraph of dull text? Make it colorful, exciting, inviting. Along with the pitch PDF, I also included a video. The requirements didn’t even ask for one, but I wanted to introduce myself and make myself stand out from the group!

Check out the video below:

Making the video took about 2 hours, and it gave me a huge leg up in the competition. Which do you think the judges will remember more, a one-page piece of paper with writing or a vibrant multi-page PDF with a fun video with graphics bouncing around?

I hope this sparks your inspiration and gets you excited about collaborating with other brands. Good luck and happy pitch creating! If you liked this article, make sure to have a look at my website,  InstagramYouTube and Pinterest!  Tag me @gdeimz on social if you make any pitch decks using these techniques!

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