Senior photographer, getting to know your senior photography clients is vital to creating senior pictures they will love. The senior consult and the senior questionnaires will help you understand your clients better.Read More
The phone is ringing, the dogs are barking, UPS is dropping off a package, a friend is texting to ask if you can drop her off at the airport and a neighbor wants to talk about the new HOA policy because you know, you work from home. Insert eye roll here.
I get it. Completely! Working from home can be tough. I’ve owned commercial space, had my studio inside my home and now have a detached studio on our property. This has been my absolute favorite set up btw :)
Unless you are super organized and protective of your time is can be hard to get anything crossed off your to do list each day. So let’s talk about how to make working from home actually work for your photography business.
6 Tips For Working From Home As A Senior Photographer
Be polite but firm when setting boundaries with family, friends and clients about your business. Working from home doesn’t mean you can drop everything for a 30 minute chat about what another PTO mom did last week. While working from home does give you flexibility in your schedule, it needs to be on your own terms.
Have pre-determined office hours
Setting office hours are extremely important - for you and your family. This may change for you as your life changes, the kids get older and as your business grows. But set them and do not let anything get in your way. We’ll talk about distractions in a minute. But I would caution you about sneaking in a few hours late at night when the kids are occupied. Sure this is necessary every once in a while, but it’s easy to form a bad habit. Been there. Done that. Enjoy your family time in the evenings. There will always be work.
Get comfortable with saying no
Saying no comes so easy to some and it’s extremely difficult for the “people pleasers”. Come on. You know who you are. I am a recovering people pleaser, so I can relate! But what I have learned over the years is that saying yes to trivial or unimportant things in the moment means that I am ultimately giving away my precious time and saying no to my family later on in the day. There are only so many hours in the day and we have to use them wisely. Only say yes to requests that line up with your priorities and values. Everything else can be a gentle “no, I can’t right now, I’m unavailable” . . . you get the picture ;)
The phone is absolutely my biggest distraction. It’s worse than my kids y’all!! Turning your phone to Do Not Disturb is the best thing you could do to actually get some focused work done! I’ve even gone so far to delete social media apps and email from my phone to keep me from being distracted.
Morning & Evening Routines
Creating routines (for myself and the kids) has been a lifesaver to me. There are just those non-negotiable things that have to get done each day, right? Take some time to sketch out your mornings and evenings to make them successful. It takes a while to form new habits, but that investment will pay off! A great morning starts the night before :)
Batch your time
Jumping from one type of task to a totally different one can be such a waste of time and mental energy. To stay productive in your work hours be sure you are focusing on only one type of task - emails, calls, editing, continuing education, etc. Have session days and in person sales days separately so that you can stay focused on one thing. I even close the studio one day a week to run all of my errands and schedule appointments on that one day. Batching things like marketing, client work, post production, calls, emails, and admin work has been a huge time saver as well. The best tool I’ve found to help me with this has been Trello. I’ve been using it for years, and it really keeps me focused and on track. You can read more about it here in this post.
What are some of the things you’ve found to help you stay productive working from home? I’d love to keep the conversation going!
Teenagers are tough, right? Today’s teens are busier than ever and easily distracted! It’s just how they are wired now and it’s the world they live in. So we have to meet them where they are!
Running a successful senior model team can be a challenge. Keeping your senior girls engaged is probably harder than getting them to show up to events on time! And once they have their images it can be like a ghost town. Been there!!
So how do we keep our senior model team engaged?
Simple. We create community. We give them the opportunity. And we stay consistent.
As a mom of 3 boys who are constantly on the go I don’t have the time for multiple group shoots and monthly events with our senior model team. Maybe I will during another season of life, but for now I’ve found ways to keep our girls talkative and “in it” long after their model shoot.
The most important thing is to give them a place to “hang out”. We use an app called Group Me for our girls. It’s an easy texting app that allows you to not only chat but create events and polls. Plus it has fun features like gifs and video too. The girls love it and it’s an easy place to keep info in one place.
Here are 5 simple ways to create community in your Senior Model Team Program using GroupMe:
Question of the Week - Ok, these can be silly or just opinion based or maybe even about a specific topic. Some of our most popular ones revolve around food! I mean, we all gotta eat! Ask them what their favorite ice cream flavor is, their favorite song right now, night owl or morning person. You get the idea. Just give them something to talk about!
Polls - These are great for anonymous voting for things that you want their opinion on but they don’t necessarily want their name attached to it or for something quick, like does Wednesday or Thursday work best.
Inspirational Quotes - Now, they may not comment much, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. Sometimes these can spark a conversation. Sometimes you’ll just get likes, and that’s ok! Just remain consistently in front of them.
Celebrate Them - We make a big deal out of birthdays in our studio. They are all added to our Google Calendar to repeat annually. Session days are easy too. Let them know when one of the other girls’ session is coming up and to watch behind the scenes on your Instagram. Give them a shout out if you see something their mom posted to Facebook about them like getting accepted into a college or any other big accomplishment. Celebrating in your group app together is fun as the sweet comments and funny gifs start to roll in. It’s a great way to make someone feel special.
Ask them what they have going on - This is such a simple and easy thing. Be interested in their lives. Maybe they have finals, they’re prom dress shopping or they have a big game. Cheer them on and the other girls will rally around too!
BONUS IDEA: Model Takeover!
Let your girls take the lead for the week. This gives you a break and gives them some leadership skills. Plus it lets you get into the mind of a teenage girl. It’s been a long time for some of us! Haha!
What’s some of your favorite ways to keep your model team engaged? We’d love to chat with you about it!
Giving up control of things is not an easy thing to do. Especially when you’ve done it all for so long. You feel like it’s easier, faster and cheaper to just do it yourself! Right?! But guess what? That’s the problem. You will be doing EVERYTHING yourself. And there is only so much of you to go around.
Over the years I have outsourced more and more in our senior studio. It’s a little addicting at this point! It has given me so much peace of mind and personal time back. There’s nothing like it y’all! If you are on the fence, let me try to convince you that outsourcing is the only way to go :)
So what are some things you could outsource in your senior studio? I’m glad you asked!
The Top 5 Things To Outsource In Your Senior Photography Studio To Maximize Productivity And Profits:
Editing & Retouching - Turning over our editing and retouching to professionals is by far the best decision I’ve ever made. Was it an easy one to make? Nope. Was there an adjustment period? Yep! But I’m so happy I finally did it. Outsourcing image editing has saved me countless hours of work and given me my life back. Some of my favorite companies to work with are Indy Pro Touch & Rebooku. You can save 10% off your first Rebooku order by using code RefcM7k4li at checkout.
Album Design - I have to give it to Rebooku again for album design. They have beautiful templates for senior albums and have great turn around time on the design work as well. But if you have someone in house to do album design for you, I would recommend using Fundy for custom album design. It’s very user friendly and has helped us cut our design time and costs so much.
Client Management - Gone are the days of spreadsheets, notebooks and word templates. We have been using Honeybook for our client management and absolutely love the freedom and confidence it gives us in the studio knowing we aren’t letting anything fall through the cracks with any client. It’s a lifesaver! Honeybook is giving our readers 50% off their first year with them! How awesome is that?!
Legal - Sure you could write your own contract with your studio’s policies and procedures. But do you know if you’re really covered? I doubt it. I did this for years and never felt safe. Since purchasing our studio contract through The LawTog I feel so much more confident. And yes, it has saved me a time or two with troublesome clients. A studio contract written by an attorney who specifically works with professional photographers is worth every penny!
Branding - Our website and marketing materials set the tone for how potential clients will receive us and for how much they can expect to pay for our services. If you have a flawless professional and artistic design, they will expect to pay a premium. Modern Market to the rescue! They have a site full of Logos, Branding Collections for your marketing materials as well as SquareSpace and ProPhoto Website Design Templates.
Find your wheelhouse. And outsource the rest. If you can make more money in the time it would take you to do some of these things, then it’s a no brainer. Do the things that bring in sales - like shooting - you know, that thing you were in love with way back when you started this business? Yeah. Do that.
Anything else you outsource in your studio? I’d love to know!
There was a time in my life where I needed the simplest sales model ever for our studio. I chose all inclusive sessions and online sales, basically shoot and burn. It worked fine for a while, but I knew I was giving up income. When life settled back down I went straight back to In Person Sales (IPS) because I had seen the value and increased income from it before. Best decision ever!
As a photographer who has gone both routes, I can definitely say that there are HUGE benefits to In Person Sales, and I will never go back to online galleries.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.
Online Galleries / Shoot and Burn Method:
It’s simple and easy (if you set it up well and get your money up front)
Sales are capped
Clients take FOREVER to get back with decisions
Images are copied or stolen
Full editing is necessary before galleries are released
Client reactions to their beautiful images are never seen
Quickest way to burn out
I could go on and on. There are just too many to list.
In Person Sales Method:
Full control of the sale
It’s easy to up-sell
Immediate feedback from clients
You can help your clients decide which images will work best for them - for their wall galleries, albums, graduation announcements, etc.
The sale is finalized that day, no more decision making
Only minor editing is needed for the image reveal, final edits are on purchased images only
It can take some time to get comfortable running the sale
It does take another appointment for both you and your client
There is a learning curve for overcoming sales objections
The Value of In Person Sales
You may not realize it yet, but there is so much value in offering this service to your clients. There is a huge difference in a client clicking an email to open a gallery on their tiny laptop versus sitting back to watch a beautiful slideshow unfold to soft music in front of them on a big screen. These are completely different experiences which lead to completely different sales.
Your client will be overwhelmed and know nothing else to do with the images in her gallery other than to share them on facebook or instagram. Guiding her through the session premiere will help her envision all the possibilities and combinations of that artwork up on her walls.
In the Session Premiere you can compare the images side by side, help her decide which ones will look best together, what size will be perfect for her piece in the foyer and so many other things. This takes such a weight off of her shoulders because she trusts your expertise to help her make the right decisions for her family.
This is truly an invaluable service for your clients. If you want to give your clients a premium experience then choosing In Person Sales is the way to go. And because of this service you can charge a well deserved premium price.
Let’s Talk Real Numbers
Even when I had all inclusive sessions I wasn’t a “cheapo” mom with a camera. I had 3 collections way back then: $900, $1200 & $1500. Clients usually bought the middle and top collections. But I was stuck. Nobody ever spent any more than $1500.
Now with In Person Sales our senior collections start at $1250. Last year our senior average was $4250, and some of our top sales hit 7k. Not too shabby, right? Do I feel like I was tricking our clients? Selling them something they didn’t want? Absolutely not!! With IPS we can actually talk through what our clients want for their home. Our clients hire us (and I’m talking about ALL OF US) for our artistic vision. They trust us to create something beautiful that they can display in their homes and hand down to their children one day. If we just load their images to an online gallery we are doing them a complete disservice. We need to see them through to the very end of the portrait process, until those canvases are hanging on their walls.
If you are struggling with finding the confidence to charge what you are worth, do yourself a huge favor and read Worth Every Penny by Sarah Petty. It’s a game changer for every photographer out there.
How To Transition From Online Sales To The Session Premiere - at your studio or in their home
The Session Premiere (Image Reveal, Ordering Appointment, whatever you choose to call it) is my 2nd most favorite day of the portrait process. It’s exciting to see our clients’ reactions to their images as they relive the session day and think about how much their baby has grown up. With online galleries all of that emotion is lost and rarely seen or even talked about.
When booking new clients this will be easy. You just explain to them the ordering process. For transitioning previous clients to your new method, it may be a bit of a challenge. But don’t worry. You got this! Talk to them about how much you’ve learned over the years and how you constantly want to improve and enhance their experience with you. This is a new premium service you will now be providing for your clients. You may need to stand your ground with some clients, but it’s doable. Just let them know that this is the new direction you are going with your company. Remember, it’s your company. Not theirs ;)
Tools You Will Need For In Person Sales
You’ll need to get set up correctly to host your Session Premieres. There are several options, and you can always upgrade software and equipment along the way. Here are a few things you might want to look into though.
Display Options: Some photographers like to display their images on a big screen tv in their studio. That’s what we do. Some like to go with an ipad that their client can hold. If you are going to your client’s home I would suggest a projector and portable screen that’s easy to set up because you never really know what sort of tv or connections they will have at their home.
Software For Sorting Images: I’ve used several software options over the years. A lot of photographers use ProSelect. I did for years and years until I finally switched to Fundy because I like the functionality a bit better. We design our albums with it as well. Lightroom or Adobe Bridge are also good options to use especially if you are just starting out.
After The Sale: A great hybrid approach would be to use ShootProof. Yes, it is for hosting online galleries. But it can be used for choosing favorites in the Session Premiere as well. We use ShootProof after the sale if our clients have purchased digital files. I wrote about all the reasons we use ShootProof here in this blog post, but in a nutshell . . . clients can order additional prints straight from our lab, from prices we set, have their orders shipped straight to their door and ShootProof never takes a cut of the sale. I love this company!
Lastly, you are going to need a beautiful pricing menu. And of course, samples. You can’t sell what you don’t show. So, if you want to sell large wall portraits, be sure you have them! Most labs will have special sample pricing. Take advantage of it. Clients will want to hold and touch the products before they purchase them. This is not the place to go cheap!
I sure hope I’ve convinced you to give up the exhausting and sale stifling shoot and burn business model and switch to the premium service of In Person Sales. If you have any questions or need a little mentoring here please let me know. I’m happy to help :)
We all know we need great client testimonials. But how do we get them? It’s not as daunting a task as you might think. There are a few key factors at play here though. Let’s talk through some great strategy for getting testimonials and Google reviews from your photography clients.
Give clients an amazing session experience.
From their first inquiry to the canvases on their walls, your clients should be completed wowed. When we give our clients a wonderful senior session experience they can’t help but want to share about it.
Surprise & delight your clients along the way. How? I’m glad you asked ;)
Have their favorite candy in the studio. Create a welcome sign up with your senior’s name on it. Send your senior client a handwritten note telling them how excited you are about their upcoming session. Send them a little text telling them how well their session went and that you can’t wait for them to see the images. Little unexpected moments like these are the ones that keep your client talking . . . in a good way :)
Over communicate. The goal at our studio is that a client should never have a question. We go out of our way to over educate and communicate so that they feel fully prepared and excited about their session.
Ask for the testimonial! And do it right away.
Do not be shy about asking for the testimonial. At the end of every session we give our clients a big hug and tell them what to expect next . . . their sneak peek on Instagram and Facebook and the email asking for a review of their session experience with us. Let them know it’s coming while emotions are high! They will love sharing about how much fun they had with you. Google reviews and word of mouth are key to a small business being successful. Be bold and ask for the review!
Because life is crazy, and we know we can’t remember everything, our testimonial request email template is built right into our senior client workflow in Honeybook, our studio management software. This way we don’t forget to ask for it!
Guide them through the testimonial.
It’s perfectly fine to ask your clients leading questions to jog their memory or give them writing prompts.
Most of your clients won’t really know how to right a nice review. It’s ok to help them out here.
When it comes to photography sessions it’s all about the emotions. How did they “feel” during their session? What did it “feel” like working with you. Ask these type of questions.
Some questions you could ask . . .
Leading up to the session how did you feel? (nervous, excited, not sure what to expect)
Describe how the experience actually made you feel during the session.
Did you know what to expect before your session? Did we provide the information you needed to prepare for a successful session?
What was your favorite part of the session? What did you love?
What about help with posing? Putting outfits together at your different locations?
How did you feel when you saw some of your images on the back of the camera?
What surprised you most about this experience?
What advice would you give to a friend who is looking for a senior photographer? And what would you tell a friend who is considering our company for their senior portraits?
Basically, was it a great EXPERIENCE? Most importantly, did you have fun?!!
Give them an incentive to write a review.
The best incentive we have found is a sneak peek from the portrait session. At the end of each session we tell our clients what to expect next and to be on the lookout for our testimonial request email. We explain that if they will post a review then they’ll get an extra sneak peek. This little trick works like a charm because everyone is on an emotional high from the session anddddd back to giving them a great experience . . . they want to tell the world! :)
Ask your clients to share their testimonial on Google and your Facebook Business Page.
Instead of just asking them for a testimonial that only you will see, give your clients the link to your Google listing and ask them to post it there. We’ve even hinted that copying and pasting to our Facebook Business Page would be extra nice. Some will go the extra step. Some won’t, but that’s ok. Getting the review on Google is the most important because these are the ones your next clients will be searching for. Be sure you always respond on Google and thank your clients when they do take the time to write and leave a review. An unanswered one doesn’t look so great.
Create testimonials on your website and social media.
Once the testimonials are on Google you can also add them to your website. Create a page just for this purpose. I’ve seen them called Raves and Reviews, Kind Words, What Your Friends Are Saying. Get creative, but be sure it’s clear. Testimonials (in part or whole) can be added next to your client’s image to your website and social media. You can create really cute testimonial graphics to share on your Instagram feed and story too. No need to post them all. The will live forever on Google, but posting a few key ones each year is great for keeping your website fresh for new senior clients to see.