Visually Estimating like a Treatment Champ

After a creative call, every photographer or illustrator sits, waits, and imagines every scenario. I can’t tell you how many times a week I hear from a client who just finished a bid or a creative call and asks me: “When should I call back?” “It’s been a week, what should I do?” “Should I send a follow-up email?”

Here is my advice on how to stand out from your peers while staying calm in the mix. To do that, here are six steps to follow to enhance your success, starting before you even make the call.

Note: A creative treatment is usually only required for very large scale projects, but many photographers or illustrators use this as the icing on the cake when trying to land a project and differentiate themselves. If the budget is not large, but you feel inspired to submit a treatment, go for it!

6 Steps to Creating a Treatment


Assuming you just received the call and have not submitted the estimate, I recommend getting a folder or binder started. Start jotting down your thoughts, questions, ideas, and even doodles. Afterward, you can review your thoughts and put together a cohesive list of questions to help guide you on the call. You will also use this folder to keep notes from the creative call, so everything is in one place.

The Business Lab Visually Estimating like a Treatment Champ  Amanda Sosa Stone and Pinterest resized 600

Pinterest allows you to show your vision with a collection of images by creating a vision board. On the flip side, it can help you find a direction when you don’t have a solid one: by using keywords, you can be inspired to find a solid path to help guide you.


Ask for their deadline and when you should deliver the estimate, along with your creative treatment.


After the call, digest what was said. Ask yourself, why are you the perfect person for the job? Write those bullet points down. Then start producing the job visually to create a creative treatment. A creative treatment should show your work in the capacity of how you would shoot this specific project, along with verbiage that sells your points. Pull images that represent the lighting you want to use, show model energy and look, locations, styling, etc … You will not have the exact shot or illustration, obviously, but you should have work that matches what they are looking for.


Gather those images or sketches together and prepare a PDF, JPEG, or landing page presentation that can be delivered via email. Remember to include your branding on the deliverables, so it CLEARLY speaks your name. The creative treatment should include the following:

  • What you are going to bring to the project to make it dynamite
  • Visual examples that show you understand the project
  • How you envision producing the project


I prefer short and sweet treatment. But remember, don’t skimp on the verbiage if something needs extensive production and needs explaining. This is your moment to shine. Show how you would produce it and knock their socks off. Ask someone you trust to read your treatment to ensure that it is easily understood.


Once you deliver it, go get a coffee and breathe. Don’t expect to hear back for at least a week. If you hear back sooner, great … if not, follow up in 1-2 weeks. Sending a simple “just checking in” email will suffice.

GOOD LUCK. And remember this: to be asked to bid a job means you have something they are looking for. Use that to your benefit and capitalize on it.

Amanda Sosa Stone

Former creative consultant, Amanda Sosa Stone now serves as Chief Product Officer at Agency Access and Found, ensuring marketing channels are strong, deliver results and help artists get seen. Photo Credit: Diana Zalucky

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