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Corporate headshot photographers would have us believe that without a professional portrait on our websites our businesses are doomed to fail. I’ve never really believed that, but lately I’ve been wondering – when it comes to small businesses, how much does image matter?

Ask yourself this

My first website photo

kate Toon awesome copywriterWhen I first started out, I dug up a photo of me taken at my last job for my website by the very talented Kane Vato. I like it. I’m smiling; it’s a good hair day (sort of – apart from the somewhat aggressive fringe). I think I look approachable but professional. Perfect. Sadly it’s now around five years old.


Brand building?

kate toon 50s pin upThen a few years later, I wrote some copy for a client, Sherbet Birdie, and she offered me a contra on some 1950s’ photography. I had three shots taken and decided that the one at my desk was cool and that I should put it on my website.

Like most of my brand building, it was done on a whim, with all of two minutes’ thought. (I had a very small human back then and was rather time poor.)

Since then my 1950s’ photo has become my trademark. In a sea of slightly tedious corporate copywriter shots, mine stands out a little. You either like it or loathe it and that’s fine by me.

But it’s also become a cross to bear.  It’s an image that I have to live up to.

Take this situation on a recent client call:

Me:                 “Why did you choose to work with me?”

Client one:    “Because you ranked so highly on Google.”

Client two:     “You liar, you said it was because she looked hot in the picture.”

Me:                  Embarrassed giggle.

<Long, awkward pause>

Client one:    “Thanks for that, mate.”

Awesome copywriter AustraliaThank God I didn’t have my Skype video turned on.

Or this client I met the other day (male again), who openly admitted that when he saw my website picture he thought ‘fwoar’ but when he saw my other Facebook page and he thought ‘meh’.
“You should stick to the 1950s stuff,” he told me. I didn’t dare ask what he thought of my unphotoshopped real-life self.

And here’s the problem

I don’t really look like my website photo. I don’t wear glasses, I can’t remember the last time I wore lipstick and though I don’t work in pyjamas, I rarely wear a sexy frock. (And I  generally refrain from sticking a pen provocatively in my mouth.)

So are some clients only employing me because they think I’m hot? And would they still employ me if they knew the truth?

My recent photo shoot

I recently had a photo shoot for my new book cover and quite frankly I hated the shots.

I hated them so much that I’ve scrapped them and rethought the whole cover concept. Yes, I looked a bit chubby and a touch like a man in drag, but it wasn’t just that.

I guess I realised I wasn’t 100% comfortable being the face of my own business.Corporate headshots

I see so many women who market themselves as part of their business, with glorious shots of them sitting on desks, in casually expensive jumpers, their hair glossy, their teeth sparkling.

But I’m not a model, I’m a writer.

It’s my job to have a glorious brain, a firm grasp of grammar and a 95 wpm typing speed. It’s not my job to have perfectly plucked eyebrows and a pert bosom. Right?  Tell me I’m right – please.

As I see it I have three choices:

  • One: Employ a professional make-up artist, stylist and hairdresser to prepare me before every client meeting, every Skype call and every video I record.
  • Two: Keep pretending my Skype video is broken, refuse all client meetings and create a cartoon version of myself for use on branding and videos.
  • Three:  Accept my imperfect, slightly double-chinned self with open arms and get on with doing great work for my clients (even the ones who don’t fancy me much).

Over to you

How do you feel about using your image for business? Do you fret that the way you look could affect your business success?

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Corporate headshots: Does your image matter? was last modified: by