In Person Sales vs Online Sales

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:

Pros:

  • It’s simple and easy (if you set it up well and get your money up front)

Cons:

  • 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:

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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 ;)

In Person Sales Vs Online Sales. Which One Is Right For Your Senior Photography Business?

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 :)

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10 Reasons We Chose ShootProof For Our Senior Client Galleries

The majority of high school senior photography clients purchase digital files. Because of that we wanted to offer them the opportunity to reprint their senior images from reputable labs with lasting quality. We needed a tool that would give us flexibility in hosting images, offered printing from professional labs, had the ability to offer digital downloads and could create mobile apps for our seniors, all while allowing us to make a profit.

Enter ShootProof. This studio management tool does it all and then some.

10 Reasons We Chose ShootProof For Our Online Galleries And Proofing In Our Senior Photography Studio

10 Reasons We Use ShootProof For Our Online Galleries And Proofing In Our Senior Photography Studio:

  1. Digital Download Delivery: When selling digital images clients can easily download their digital files through their ShootProof gallery all the while we have complete control over the file size.

  2. Custom Mobile Apps: Clients are impressed when we tell them they can have their very own mobile app included with their senior portrait order. We’ve seen an increase in brand awareness and word of mouth referrals because of the ease of sharing their app.

  3. Social Sharing Options: Everyone loves showing off their beautiful session images and ShootProof makes it easy for our clients to share straight to social media platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and more.

  4. Emotional Galleries & Slideshows Set To Music: We love creating an emotional experience again and again when our clients browse through their images by adding music. ShootProof has over 14,000 songs to choose from making options endless.

  5. Full Control of Products, Pricing and Print Fulfillment With Professional Labs: Different studios sell different products, and we love that ShootProof has taken this into consideration. We can pick and choose which items we will offer our clients, whether they will be fulfilled by a professional lab like White House Custom Color, Miller’s Pro Lab or Black River Imaging (there are lots of others) or fulfilled in-house. Pricing is also set by us, not the labs or ShootProof. Doesn’t get much better than that!

  6. Commission Free Sales: Since we are talking about pricing . . . you’ll be glad to know that every penny of profit comes back to your studio. ShootProof does not take a commission on any portrait sales.

  7. Professional Contracts & Invoices: Keeping clients connected and paperwork to a minimum is really easy with ShootProof. You can upload your own contract or purchase ready-made professional templates from photography industry leaders like The LawTog and The Youngrens. Clients can sign and pay right from their digital device.

  8. Professional Branding So Your Proofing Site Flows Beautifully With Your Website: This feature is super important to us. We wanted a platform that would seamlessly tie into our existing website. Customizing brand colors and watermarks is really easy. Have multiple brands? Not a problem. ShootProof can support that too.

  9. Automated Emails & Customizable Email Templates: Keeping in touch with clients has never been easier. Quickly shoot an email to check in or set up automated gallery expiration emails and so much more. Automation = less brain power. Yes!

  10. In Depth Dashboard: Quickly get an idea of what’s going on in a glance at the dashboard. Everything is right there - gallery stats, visitor activity, order information & sales history.

ShootProof makes life simpler in our studio.

Ready to simplify and up your sales?

 

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Top 5 Studio Tools We Use Daily

I’m often asked what are my most favorite tools that we use in the studio. And that is not an easy question to answer, but I narrowed it down to the 5 tools we use the most in our photography business. Below you’ll see products that have great functionality, easy user interfaces, and most have the ability to sync so that they are accessible even when we are out of the office.

Running a full time photography studio and needing team members to be able to access information at different times, these are all important options for us. Plus, it just makes life so much easier even if you’re a one man / woman show!

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5 Tools We Use Daily In The Studio To Maximize Productivity And Profit:

  1. Trello - Hands down number one would have to be Trello. I wrote a complete blog post about how awesome this productivity tool is. You should definitely check it out.

  2. Fundy - We use Fundy for custom album design for our senior albums and also for In Person Ordering Appointments. It’s very user friendly and has helped us cut our design time and costs so much.

  3. Honeybook - This is our client management system. We are still learning the power of this beast having moved over to it recently, but I am falling more and more in love with it every day. Our workflow automation is on point with HoneyBook! Get 20% off Honeybook here :)

  4. ShootProof - While we are 100% in person sales we do host images for clients who purchase digital files. ShootProof is perfect for that and they work seamlessly with our lab to offer professional quality prints to our clients. We also create and host our mobile apps for seniors with ShootProof as well. They love these on their phones! So do the mamas!

  5. Photobiz - I’ve been with Photobiz for years and have always been so impressed with their customer service and forward thinking in the photography industry. If any photographer is ever looking for a website Photobiz is exactly where I send them!

So there you have it. These are the 5 tabs that are most likely open on my desktop at all times! Oh, and probably one for Amazon because you just never know when you’ll need to add something to your cart, right?!

What’s your favorite tool you use in your studio?

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10 Books Every Photographer Needs On Her Book Shelf

I’ve always loved to read.

Even as a little girl I remember getting in trouble for reading too much. Haha! Let me rephrase that. Mom would fuss at me because I literally could not put a book down to walk across the house. She was always worried I was going to trip or run into a wall :)

Back then it was Little House On The Prairie and Nancy Drew mysteries, but today it is mostly business books. They fascinate me. I love learning and growing. Honestly, I think that’s what has helped my photography business more than anything over the years.

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Stretching myself, growing as a leader, learning from leaders outside of my industry has challenged me in more ways that I could ever count. I am eternally grateful to the authors who have poured their heart and soul into these amazing books for entrepreneurs like me and you.

If you are a photographer, creative entrepreneur or business owner of any kind really, be sure to set aside some time each week for some professional development by diving into some of these books!

Here are 10 books I believe every entrepreneur should have on her book shelf:

People Over Profit

Storybrand

Tribes

Who Moved My Cheese

Entreleadership

Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business

The 4 Hour Workweek

Leaders Eat Last

Make It Happen

Getting Things Done

Now, get to reading girl!

Set yourself a goal and get those read next year. One a month with a little wiggle room. You will be amazed at how much you will change as a person and business owner.

Don’t like to read? How about listening?

I hear ya! With my busy schedule it is tough to sit down to read like I used to. That’s why I love Audible. I can get through a book in half the time it would take me to read it. Sometimes I’ll even put one on if I’m going for a run. But mostly I just listen to 90’s rap. Just sayin.

Try Audible and get 2 audiobooks free here.

Why It Doesn't Bother Me To NOT Get The Job

It really used to frustrate me when I didn’t get hired, didn’t book the session, didn’t get the job. I use to make my case over the phone when a potential client called. I would try to tell them the difference between me and the shoot and burn photographer or the school’s contract photographer. I used to get angry when they just couldn’t see the value in the product and service I offered.

And then something clicked. The ones who didn’t need convincing, the ones who were ready to book because they had already fallen in love with what we do . . . they were my dream clients. And the ones who I just happened to be able to convince to book a session anyway . . . well, we ended up not being a good match after all. After this happened a few times and I saw a pattern develop, I changed the way I did business.

I stopped getting angry. And I stopped getting hurt.

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I stopped running my business out of fear.

And I started running it with confidence that I was worth what I charged for my services and time away from my family.

If they said I was too expensive I understood and wished them the best. And I meant it! I stopped trying to convince EVERYONE that I was the photographer for them. Porsche doesn’t do that. Tiffany’s doesn’t either. They just served their clients and that’s what I set out to do.

I started serving my clients better. I made sure there wasn’t a question left unanswered and that they felt like they were the only ones who mattered on their session day. I served the ones who valued great work full of expression and light in their daughter’s eyes, work that they would proudly hang on living room walls and cherish because I captured their kid EXACTLY how they wanted to remember this stage of life. I served the clients who valued relationships and memories more than nice cars and handbags.

I figured out who MY CLIENT was and I loved on them like they were friends from the start.

When a potential customer calls and I get that feeling down deep in my gut (you know the one) that this isn’t going to work out I still care for them and we always have great conversation. I love these phone calls, because I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve lived through senior year with my oldest. And I’ll have to do it two more times! Ugh, my heart. We are all just trying to do this life thing together, and senior year is tough on any parent - physically, financially and definitely emotionally!! No matter what their budget is, they still deserve and get respect from our studio.

Remember the movie Pretty Woman when she went into the fancy dress shop on Rodeo Drive for the first time? Yeah. That’s not happening here! Just sayin.

I’m telling you all of this because I want you to know that it is ok to not be hired or to be called too expensive. We cannot serve everyone, and that’s ok too. Because if we did we wouldn’t have time for our own families. And if that starts happening, it’s time to raise your prices. Supply and demand baby.

So the next time you don’t book the session because you are out of someone’s budget, look at it as a blessing. And serve the ones who have hired you like they are your most cherished friends.

The right ones will always come along.

A Day In The Life of A Creative Entrepreneur Mom

5:00am The dreaded alarm goes off.  

Confession:  I keep a 2nd one set at 5:30am in case I fall back asleep.

I spend all of 30 - 45 minutes getting myself ready for the day.  And the next few hours getting the kids up and to school.  They’re involved in sports so 6:00am practices are not out of the ordinary.  

The good thing is that they begrudging let me listen to my favorite podcasts on the way.  I turn it up as loud as I want on the way back home though!  Oh yes I do!

7:00am I post to Instagram for my 2 accounts (photography business and this blog).    Everything is preplanned with this amazing tool.  It saves me so much time.  

I try to check my calendar to refresh my mind and understand how my day will go.  I do this while the kids are eating breakfast and getting ready for school. 

I then update my Trello Boards with my Top 3 Tasks for the day and any ideas that are lingering in my head.  See how I use Trello here in this blog post.

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Workout (not as often as I should) & sometimes I just waiting until the afternoon.  It depends on whether I have deadlines or not.

I skim email first thing.  Notice I said “skim”.  I try very hard not to get bogged down in email at this time.  This is just to handle any urgent issues that may have popped up overnight.

Next thing, I eat that frog (do the thing I don’t want to do first) - Client work, design work, processing orders.  The Eat That Frog theory came from Brian Tracy’s book named just that.  Basically do the thing that you are least looking forward to first thing in the morning because after that everything else will seem easy.  Don't take that the wrong way now!  I love my client work, but it's tough sometimes.  Haha!

Play with dogs.  Because I need the break probably more than they do!

Midmorning:  I try to get dinner in crockpot at least a few days a week.  Or at least figure out a plan.  Bacon and eggs anyone???

 

Now, after this time of day, my days are all different.  

I batch everything!  So each day is usually focused on one or maybe two different areas of business / life.

 

Some of my batch work days:

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  • Outlining blog posts

  • Writing blog posts

  • Editing & graphics

  • Styled stock shooting 

  • Social media planning / marketing

  • Client days (photo shoot, consults or design / order appointments)

  • Podcasting days to come soon too :)

  • Personal errands

After I work a few hours on my main task for the day I will update Tailwind & Board Booster for Pinterest.  I am amazed at the results I’ve gotten with just working 30 minutes a day with these 2 tools.  It's crazy!  And I'm so happy to not be on social media all day long anymore.  

Play with dogs again.  This is basically all day.  They are relentless.

Email & calls are handled shortly after lunch each day.

Mid-afternoon:  Engage with other bloggers and professionals in the industry - Facebook groups, blog & Pinterest commenting.  I love this part because it feels like I’m just playing instead of working :)

Evenings:  These consist of all the normal mom duties:  picking up kids, sports practices & games, dinner . . .

Mama Time!  After the kids are settled I try to read or catch up on a course I am taking.  Continuing Education is so important. Right now I’m going through Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing & I’m learning so much!!

9:00 I crash.  Hence, my shirt.  It's from Saturday Morning Pancakes btw.  They're pretty cool ;)