Learn how to successfully pitch your brand for personal projects and maintain your creative vision. Find the balance between earning income and creating for yourself.

Over the past few years, as my business has scaled and focused primarily on commercial photography, it's been challenging to maintain my creative vision and carve out time to shoot for myself. There comes a true turning point for many creatives when they begin monetizing their skills. This crossroad requires a delicate balance between earning a livable income and continuing to create for oneself and from within.

The Importance of Personal ProjectsHow To Reach Out To Brands To Secure Partnerships | Skylum Blog(2)

Attending a Chris Burkard workshop in Iceland last December taught me a few valuable lessons. One of the biggest takeaways was to never stop pursuing personal projects. Last year was exceptionally successful for my commercial photography business, keeping me extremely busy. However, this led to severe burnout, forcing me to put my camera down for a long period of time to recover from the relentless work. Taking a step back, I realized I was dedicating almost all my time and creative energy to producing work for brands and clients. Although it paid well, it didn't satisfy me creatively.

This year, I’m doing my best to put my creative ideas and vision in front of brands and companies that align with my values and passions, instead of just taking any work that comes my way. You may be reading this and thinking “...sounds lovely to only work for yourself and chase your own creative visions.” I totally get it. We all have to make a living and need an income, so there is a delicate balance between pursuing personal projects and taking on work that helps pay the bills. As you continue down your creative career path, you may reach the point I did. Yes, it feels good to make money, support yourself, and have a profitable business, but we also want to feel good intrinsically as artists.

Building and Pitching Your Personal ProjectHow To Reach Out To Brands To Secure Partnerships | Skylum Blog(3)

So, how do you change this situation? Recently, my buddy Ross and I put our creative minds together to build a personal project we are very passionate about. Here are some helpful tips and insights on how you can put your personal projects and creative ideas in front of brands and clients:

1. Come Up with a Unique Creative Idea

Develop a concept that allows you to subliminally integrate client products in an advertorial sense. For our project, we pitched camera gear brands on a light painting project and the ability to get creative at night, even after the sun had gone down.  The creative idea was light painting at night using drones and LED light tubes, giving us the ability to include select products from our valued partners. 

2. Create a Professional Pitch Deck to Illustrate Your Ideas

Use tools like Canva.com or Adobe Illustrator to create a concise and visually appealing pitch deck. It should be no longer than 3-5 slides to keep the client's attention. The deck should outline your vision, objectives, initiative, deliverables, and the importance of brand representation in your project.

3. Begin Your Outreach

Start by contacting existing clients and reaching out to new ones using a cold email approach. Connect with new brands, excite them with your project ideas, and ask for a brief call to discuss your vision in more detail. Send out dozens of cold emails to generate interest and offer to send over your pitch deck for further explanation.

4. Explain the Importance of Brand Representation

Clearly articulate why it's crucial for the brand to be part of your passion project and the visibility they will gain. This isn’t just about shooting their products; it’s about showing your passion and love for photography. Make your pitch personal and impactful.  Do it for the love of the game, keeping it separate from just pitching a brand to “shoot some product photos…” 

5. Communicate Deliverables, Timelines, and Budgets

Detail what you need to bring your project to life, whether it's monetary compensation or product trades. Estimate the time and effort required and how many brands you’d like to involve.  I tend to stay away from product trades after running a few personal projects, there’s tons of extra time and effort that goes into these projects. 

6. Team Up with Other Creatives

Collaborate with other creatives who share your vision. This allows you to bounce ideas off each other, experiment, and assist one another, resulting in high-quality images. For our project, teaming up with another talented photographer, Ross Bernards, was invaluable.  Ross took on the creation of our pitch deck, I then took on the task of doing outreach and locking in our project partners.  Divide the workload and conquer.

7. Execute Your Personal Project

Immerse yourself in the project and let your creativity flow. Remember why you started: for the love of photography and creating art. Use personal projects as a reminder of your passion.

ConclusionHow To Reach Out To Brands To Secure Partnerships | Skylum Blog(4)

Pursuing personal projects and pitching them to brands can rejuvenate your creative spirit and bring immense satisfaction. Brands are often eager to hear from passionate creatives and may value your unique vision more than you realize. Never lose your creative integrity, and keep chasing personal projects. This approach not only helps maintain your artistic fulfillment but can also lead to successful collaborations that benefit both you and the brands involved.

Thanks for reading along, and stay tuned for more insights on how to chase personal projects, steps to build a creative idea pitch deck, and more. See you out there!

© All photos in this article were kindly provided by photographers Ross Brenards and Frankie Spontelli.

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