Is Your Headshot Photo Helping or Hurting Your Practice?

Study: TaxBuzz accountants and tax professionals with good headshot photos get 3.1x more profile views, 7x more five-star reviews and 3.7x more inbound leads. 

It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, what words is your headshot photo saying to your prospective clients? Is it saying, “Hire me!”? Or is it saying, “Find someone else!”?

For accountants and tax professionals, having a great headshot photo has become very important in the digital age of social media. First impressions matter now more than ever. Prospective clients often do not have time to read your entire website, your complete biography or your full online profile.

Like it or not, you really only have a few seconds to a few minutes to put forward a great first impression. Not having a headshot photo raises lots of red flags in the minds of your online visitors. Without a photo, some may wonder if there is a real person. Or they may be concerned that you outsource work to someone else.

People want to hire people they can trust. So, if you have an unprofessional photo or no photo at all, prospective clients will likely move on to your competitors who do have great photos.

With our TaxBuzz marketplace, we provide taxpayers and small business owners with the profiles of more than 500,000 accountants and tax professionals. Thousands of these professionals have added headshot photos to their profiles on TaxBuzz.com.

And with our parent company, ClientWhys, thousands of our accountant and tax pro clients hire us to help with their websites and social media. A big part of a successful accountant marketing program includes having a great headshot photo.

Over the years, we have seen the good, the bad, and the… well, very bad when it comes to accountant and tax pro headshot photos. We’ve seen profile photos with fancy hats, giant sunglasses, beach shots, pets, photos of pros with drinks or food and photos taken in bars and restaurants. We have even seen a profile photo of a shirtless tax pro riding horseback on the beach! Yes, we’ve really seen this and, no, this was not on TaxBuzz (thankfully).

You name it, we have seen it all.

How important is it to have a good profile photo?

Well, based on our analysis* of thousands of TaxBuzz member photos, accountants and tax pros with good photos on their profiles get…

  • 3.1x more profile views
  • 7x more five-star reviews
  • 3.7x more TaxBuzz leads  

Wow! If this data does not convince you that it is time to take a closer look at your headshot photo, what more would it take?

So, what makes for a great headshot photo?

Our friends at PhotoFeeler.com have been collecting lots of data to help answer this question over the years and have released some of their results:

https://blog.photofeeler.com/perfect-photo/

We can say with confidence that their findings and recommendations are spot on. Based on our own analysis and experience, we have customized these recommendations for accountants and tax pros (see our summary below).

PhotoFeeler offers a service where users can upload various headshot photos in order to have other users rate the photos on various aspects, such as whether the person seems competent, likable and influential. The PhotoFeeler website provides you with scores on each of these three aspects on a scale of 0% to 100%. You may also receive anonymous comments and suggestions directly from the reviewers.

For clients on our ClientWhys Whitney marketing service, we actually run these tests for them, comparing two or more of their photos to help give us some direction on which photos are best to use on their websites, social media and TaxBuzz profile photos.

Keep in mind that you do not have to be a fashion model to get a nice, professional photo. Your clients do not expect you or your photo to be perfect. They just want to hire someone who seems professional, friendly, knowledgeable and, most importantly, trustworthy.

Below are some of the tests we have run for some of our brave clients. Kudos to them for being willing to have us to share their results with you!

Based on the PhotoFeeler studies and our own internal testing, here are some important tips for getting a great photo:

  • Smile!
    • This is by far the most important aspect and it is the thing that accountants seem to get wrong most often.
    • The study from PhotoFeeler shows that smiling counts for about HALF of the Likability score!
    • Try to get a nice, genuine smile that shows some teeth, but not too big, not laughing too much and not a “forced” or “salesy” big smile -- going too far can reduce your Competence and Influence scores.

  • Dress up
    • Especially for accountants, semi-formal wear seemed to be best – this includes a tie and suit jacket for men (sorry guys).
    • According to PhotoFeeler, “nothing we tested paid greater gains in perceived Competence and Influence than formal dress.”

  • Go for trustworthy, not for unique
    • For personal photos, it’s OK to be as creative as you want. For your accountant professional photo, too much creativity will probably lead to lost business.
    • AVOID: Hats, sunglasses, pets, props, unprofessional clothing (or too little clothing), colorful or bright designs, anything distracting, having other people in the photo.

  • Professional lighting, angle, color balance, contrast and setting
    • Make sure lighting is not too bright or too dark. An overcast sky and/or professional lighting equipment usually works best.
    • Be sure your finished photo is not too dark, too light, or has off-balance color tints.
    • Do not zoom in too close or too far away. You need to get your entire head and shoulders, with room at top, sides and bottom to crop a bit if needed.
    • The camera should be directly in front at face-level and your head should be facing the camera and you should look into the camera.
    • While the setting did not turn out to be super important in the PhotoFeeler study, just be sure the background is not distracting or unprofessional. With a good photographer, they can also remove the background and/or insert a nice color gradient background.
    • And please, NO SELFIES, no shots inside cars, restaurants, bars, your bedroom mirror, etc.

  • Professional edits, without adding special effects
    • Make sure to retain a high-resolution version of the photo before you do any editing
    • Crop the photo to fit the size and file size requirements of the websites you plan to use it on.
    • A photographer or someone who knows photo editing might be able to help improve the lighting, cropping or color balance.
    • Avoid using too many effects, making the photo look overproduced or like a glamour shot.

Want to try PhotoFeeler on your own? Just upload two or more photos to test to their site: https://www.photofeeler.com/signup/

It’s free to use the service if you collect enough “karma” by rating the photos of other users. Or you can purchase credits for a fee. Choose the “Professional” testing option and enter your profession name, such as “Accountant,” “CPA” or “Tax Professional.”

The testing is anonymous, so they will not display your name, only a business title that you enter (we used "Tax Professional"or "Accountant" in our tests). However, be ready… the reviewers are usually very honest. This is a good thing, but you should be open to hear their constructive feedback.

Try some things with a good camera and a tripod, upload a couple of the best options to PhotoFeeler to test it out and choose the best one.

Let us know if you want some suggestions or if you’d like us to test two photos for you. We normally reserve this service for our Whitney program clients, however, we can do these tests for you if you are an accountant or tax professional. Just you let us know you read about this offer on our blog post and, if you are one of the first 25 to respond, we’ll test two of your headshot photos for free!**

Remember, you do not have to be a model or hire an expensive photographer to get a great photo! And your scores do NOT have to be super high, so do not be discouraged if your tests initially come out lower than expected. Just use the best one for now and, if you want better results, perhaps consult with a professional photographer.

If you run tests in PhotoFeeler, we’d love to hear about your results. Send them to us if you’d like us to share your “good” and “bad” or “before and after” scores!

Go get a great photo and see dramatic improvement in your brand image, your ability to attract and retain clients and, ultimately, improve your financial results.

If you are an accounting, tax or bookkeeping professional and have questions about these tips or how you can generate more referrals online, contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 or set up some time speak with one of our accountant marketing experts.

*Study compared the results for a sample of 190 TaxBuzz profiles with “good photos” (those that exhibited many of the recommendations found in this article) with the results of 2,694 other TaxBuzz profiles that had photos.

**Offer expires 3/30/2018. Open to the first 25 professionals who provide us with two professional headshot photos to test and who provide us with permission to test these photos on their behalf on PhotoFeeler.com. Tests will be conducted over a period of up to 4-6 weeks. Only open to tax professionals, accountants or bookkeepers who either already have a claimed profile on TaxBuzz.com and who give us permission to create and/or claim a free profile on TaxBuzz.com on their behalf. Other restrictions may apply. Requests for testing may be declined at the sole discretion of ClientWhys, Inc.

  • Brad Cooper

  • Brad serves as Senior Vice President of Operations, Marketing and Sales at ClientWhys, Inc.  Brad is an interactive marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience at companies including Apple, Xerox and MGM Studios.  Over the past two decades, Brad and his teams have managed more than 100,000 digital marketing campaigns for practices and businesses including websites, social media, email marketing, search engine marketing, mobile, reputation management and more. He also has been an active writer, speaker and contributor for professional services associations and publications. 

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