This Online Marketplace Helps Clients Find Photographers in a Snap
Ever wonder where great business ideas come from? For photography and videography marketplace Snapsquad, it came from the need to solve a problem.
London-based hospitality industry executive Jean-Yves Teo used to have difficulties sourcing a quality photographer for a commercially affordable price. He ended up having to fly photographer Caitlin Collins — who is now Snapsquad’s director and resident photographer — from Berlin to London every time he needed to do a photo shoot.
Together, Jean-Yves and Caitlin, along with insurance and sales executive Ryan Bond, formed and founded Snapsquad. The trio set out on a mission to make it easy for clients to find the best local photographers in their city, while also providing photographers with greater client exposure in the most flexible way possible. Drawing from Caitlin’s experience as a photographer and Jean-Yves and Ryan’s strong business acumen, they decided that an online marketplace model would give photographers and clients the most choice and flexibility.
“We want to complement a photographer’s business as much as possible in supplying them with clients and we feel the best way to do this is not restrict them. We know that most freelancers gain revenue from multiple streams, for this reason our aim is to complement their business and be as flexible as possible by letting them make the rules. Pricing, Location and Hours are entirely at their discretion,” Snapsquad CEO Ryan Bond says. “Being flexible to photographers ultimately means more choice for clients.”
Photo credit: Caitlin Collins.
Building a minimum viable platform
Launched in February 2017, Snapsquad’s service booking platform is built on Arcadier’s online marketplace software. The platform brings together photographers and videographers with different specializations into one easy-to-navigate marketplace.
“We chose Arcadier due to functionality, the site’s look/feel and price. We considered a number of other platforms and many required adaptation for us to achieve the same result that Arcadier provided us with its off-the-shelf product. This allowed us to get our business started with less capital investment and meant we could start operating sooner. For startups I would recommend that you consider what it is you need your platform to do in terms of functionality as a start, and if you can find something that doesn’t require modification, you’re onto a winner,” Ryan advises.
“Along with making the initial search easy, we want to keep choosing process simple too. Arcadier’s platform allows for community reviews from verified purchasers, multiple photos to showcase portfolios, and photographer led pricing, catering for all budgets.”
Devising the most effective marketing strategy
The team at Snapsquad is now working on growing its photographer base in three key locations: London, New York, and Los Angeles. Their long term goal is to dominate the global online market in photography and videography bookings.
“At our current stage, the most important thing we need to develop is our photographer base. As without photographers, we don’t have a product to sell! This is our current focus and as mentioned before, social media is playing a big part in that. But word of mouth is equally as important,” explains Ryan.
To acquire clients and photographers, SnapSquad listed itself on early adopter channels such as ProductHunt, Betapage and even Thunderclap, a crowdspeaking platform where people can donate their social reach. The London-based startup managed to score a social reach of 75,697 people at the end of its Thunderclap campaign on May 30. According to Ryan, the main benefits of listing on these early adopter channels were brand awareness and initial customer feedback.
When asked which marketing strategy is most effective for Snapsquad, Ryan named Instagram as its biggest acquisition vehicle. Snapsquad has almost 6,000 followers on Instagram, thanks to Caitlin, who manages the account. Caitlin herself has over 50,000 followers on Instagram! The brand encourages user-generated content (UGC) through the hashtag #snapsquadofficial as a way to promote itself to photographers from all over the world. At the same time, by featuring the UGC on its profile, Snapsquad allows photographers to reach a wider audience base.
“We have a definite bias towards Instagram with respect to our communications approach. It’s a powerful tool and becoming more so every day. Pictures and videos have a unique way of impacting people. Many more people are using Instagram now as a means of viewing a product before they buy it and also as a means of showcasing their services. Given this it was a no brainer, really.”
Building trust in an online service booking marketplace
Presently, founders Jean-Yves, Caitlin and Ryan are developing a community within Snapsquad to foster trust within the new marketplace. The community is dedicated solely to professional photographers and provides a platform to share photos and new ideas. The group is based on Facebook and has been very well received. It currently has in excess of 1,300 members.
Photo credit: Caitlin Collins.
“We have definitely seen a trend towards a more candid style of photography — one which captures moments rather than those which are staged or scripted. But there are so many individual styles. On Snapsquad alone we have seen a huge array of styles and that’s what’s amazing about photography, everyone has a different way of looking at something!” Ryan notes of Snapsquad’s photographer community.
Ryan also offers some tips for clients who are looking to hire a photographer or videographer through Snapsquad: “I’d suggest reviewing a photographer’s photos or portfolio to make sure their style of photography is right for you. Using our review feature and reading about other people’s experiences is also a fantastic way to help choose the right photographer for you.”