I left a message the SD at the school...to ask if they might be looking for someone to donate time and effort for FREE... Do you think this is a wise move?
Not one bit do I think it's a wise move in all honesty. The wise move is to contact the school and try to set up being the official photographer and come up with a deal. If you're stuff is good enough to want to shoot and sell to parents then it should be good enough to be "the main guy" shooting there. This may entail giving some free photos to the newsletter, newspaper, yearbook, etc. but not for nothing - for advertising space! A byline is not advertising is one thing to remember as well with this - you want an actual ad to trade off! Trade offs are very common in any business and Dan posted a good example of it.
Definitely a lot of ways to do it. Mine's nothing official, but they don't get anything either in return. I did just give them a freebie for a newsletter knowing they don't have a budget for photos - but requested no other usage and they don't give it away obviously. If I shot more, and was "the main guy" it'd be a LOT different. Right now though it's just coaches inviting and helping promote. Would never call offering free services, but if worked into with some trade offs who knows.
Anyone get there foot in the door this way so that it may open more doors for you..?
It's difficult, randomly asking to give things away is going to get them thinking they can use you for as much as they need. After you jump at shooting for free the change over to getting paid is not good.
Maybe hoping to sell actions shots back to the parents and donate images to the school yearbook, etc.
As mentioned, look at trade offs - not just handing them over.
gonzogolf wrote in post #9165582
You wont be giving anything away, you will be trading access for photos.
Which is one of the most piss poor excuses ever - worst thing you can do is trade access for photos - editors call that person a SUCKER!
Big K wrote in post #9167123
One of the most important things to evaluate is are you in a market where people have the disposable income and are willing to spend it for photography. Just because they like your work and ask about buying does not mean that they will.
Do you have good success with your little league and pee wee football?
Is it possible that no other shooters are in your area because there is no money to be made?
If there is a market, getting in is the key and doing some free work up front may not be a bad option. However, as already mentioned, this does set you up to have a tougher time switching from the guy who works for free to the guy who wants to get paid.
Understanding your market and its potential for sales is a very important first step.
Ain't that first sentence the truth!! So is the rest, and will add that youth sports (LL & PW) do better than high school almost always because parents buy when younger more often. By about age 12 sales dip, though it depends on the parent, area, how the team is doing (yes wins losses), etc.