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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Senior Guy Portraits: A Lost Revenue Stream

I was scrolling facebook because umm, facebook . . . And I ran across a conversation between a few senior photographers about photographing senior guys. There were different opinions on the topic, of course. But to sum it up, none of them ever counted on getting senior guys into their studios to photograph.

I was speechless. Thank goodness! I’m glad I didn’t comment because usually the first thing I think of is never the first thing that should come out of my mouth!!

But it got me wondering . . . why are we so afraid to photograph guys?

Why are so many senior photography business models built around girls only? I just don’t get it! Sure guys aren’t as excited as girls are about senior portraits, but their mamas sure are! They’ve been waiting 17 years for these portraits too. They’ve raised wonderful young men and want to celebrate them.

As a mom of boys I want senior portraits of my son just like any other mom would!

Guys are generally not going to ask their moms for senior pictures. So there needs to be a mindset shift when it comes to marketing. You have to market mostly to their moms, but you gotta show to the guys that it will be worth their time and not be lame!

So how do we do that?

How To Keep Your Senior Model Team Engaged

Figure out who he is. What is he all about? You’ll do this mostly through having conversations with mom. Is he quiet and reserved? Is he the life of the party? What lights him up?

Photograph his car, truck, passion, his dog . . . but do it in a way that fits his personality. Don’t try to make him into something he’s not just for a cool shot. If you can get him comfortable you will get some killer images.

Do not pose him in a feminine way. A guy should look strong and not at all posed like a girl. Study posing if you’ve never photographed a guy. Here’s a great posing book by Lindsey Adler. She is the queen of posing and lighting!

Guys love to lean on things. They should look natural and not forced into a pose. It just doesn’t work and any awkwardness he feels will come through in his images.

Create classic and timeless images for him, not something gimmicky that he will be embarrassed by later.

Most guys will give you a serious look all day long, but if you can get a genuine smile, or better yet, a laugh, you will melt his mom’s heart. At the end of the day that’s all she wants really . . . natural expressions that she sees every day from her boy.

So, don’t be afraid to start marketing guy senior images. The moms are out there waiting for you to show up in your area! Be an expert when it comes to photographing guys. I’m shocked at the phone calls we get from moms who call me saying that there aren’t any other photographers around that even have images of guys on their websites. Wow! Just wow! Hey, I’ll gladly take those sessions though ;)

What’s it gonna be? Will you start photographing guys this year? Offer friends who have a teenage son you are comfortable with a small session to practice posing. Build a portfolio, get to work and add to your bottom line with this new offering at your studio!!

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Should I niche down in my photography business?

This decision to niche down in your photography business can be such a tough one, right? I’ve been there. You need the money to keep things afloat, but you don’t want to do work you don’t love. It’s quite a dilemma.

But here’s the thing . . . you can’t be great at all things.

The best restaurants are the ones who specialize in a certain cuisine. Why? Because they make the same type of foods and use the same ingredients day in and day out. The chefs know what their customers want and expect. They have honed their craft and are specialists in their field. Those are hands down the best places to eat!

The same goes for photographers. Yes. We need to niche down. Whether that means weddings, newborns, family photography or custom high school senior portraits. Find your passion and go with it.

Be the specialist in your area, not the jack of all trades.

This is the best decision I ever made way back in 2009. I made the switch to only photograph high school seniors. Our studio quickly became known as the senior studio in town and I was finally happy doing what I loved. Don’t be afraid to make the switch. I don’t regret it at all! My happiness and profits increased dramatically :)

At the end of the day, does it really matter?

I think a big fat YES is in store here! Wouldn’t you rather be serving your ideal client running a profitable business you love instead of just doing sessions because you need the money to pay rent? Think about it. You started this photography business to make money doing what you love and to provide for your family while fulfilling your dreams. Right? So, yes. It matters. For your sanity, for your peace of mind, for your bottom line, for you.

Should i niche down in my photography business, specializing in your photography business

5 Steps To Niche Down and Specialize In Your Photography Business:

  1. Go through your galleries. Which images move you the most? Which ones light you on fire?

  2. Think about your sessions and past clients. Which ones are your favorites? List reasons why.

  3. Once you have it narrowed down to where you want to be in the photography industry, start researching your area. Is there anyone else doing what you want to do? Are your styles similar? Know your direct competition, but don’t obsess over them.

  4. If you don’t quite have enough image samples in your portfolio it’s time to start adding to it. This might mean a few discounted sessions, gift certificates or trades with a hair and makeup artist in the area. Perfect your craft with this segment of the market while beefing up your galleries. You have to show what you want to sell.

  5. Once you have your galleries where you want them it’s time to own your new speciality! Market like crazy. Not in a cheesy used car salesman type way. But fill your social media feeds with what you want and love to do. The clients will come. You just have to show them why. You are now the best at what you do in your area ;)

What’s your passion? Have I convinced you to go for it? I sure hope so. It’s so worth it friends. Let’s keep in touch. Let me know how it’s going, and if you have any questions about niching down in your photography business. I’m happy to help!

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How to Start and Monetize a Blog

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

First off, congrats on your big decision to start a blog!  I went back and forth over this decision for years.  And now that I finally have one, I just love it and wish I had started blogging sooner!  This little guide is the step by step process I went through in designing my blog and monetizing it.  

Blogging is hard work, but it can be rewarding both financially and professionally.

Even if you are completely new to this blogging world, you can start your blog TODAY.  Blogging is flexible and a great side hustle (or full-time job) you can totally do at home or while traveling.  

How-To-Start-A-Blog-And-Monetize-It.jpg

So let’s dive right in.  The first thing you will need to do is decide on your niche.

1.  Decide on your blog niche.

What are you interested in?  What field are you an expert in?  What are you passionate about?  This task may take some deep reflection, but take your time to start asking yourself these tough questions.  It will come to you.


The important thing is that you really do need to narrow your focus.  Choose a topic you are passionate about, even if you don’t feel like an expert at it just yet.


Some popular blogging niches are health & fitness, beauty, fashion, travel & lifestyle, food & recipes, photography and small business.  Get as specific as you possibly can with your niche.  

If you are talking to everyone, you are really aren’t talking to anyone.


Who is your audience?  When writing you want to be able to talk to a specific person, your ideal customer or reader.  I’ll discuss this topic in depth in another post soon, but think of blogging as talking for hours to your best friend about a subject you both love.

 

2. Choose A Domain Name

Now that you’ve decided on your niche, you will need a domain name for your blog.  This is the web address where people can find you online.  You can grab one for free at Bluehost.


Don’t overthink this part!  I know.  I know.  I did it too.  It took me quite a while before I decided on Simply Successful Creative.  Just make a decision and go with it!  

A few things to consider when choosing a domain name:

  • It needs to be something that is easy to spell and pronounce.

  • It should be short and simple. Mine is borderline. I admit it.

  • Stay away from anything hyphenated.

  • Try to go with a .com instead of .net or .org if at all possible.

  • It should relate to your niche, but not be too limiting. Think long term here. (If you are blogging about all things Florida and then move across country you are going to have a tough time transitioning your blog.)

  • For a personal brand there is no greater domain than your own name. This is what I did for my photography business.

  • A play on words can be fun too (“Road Trippin With Robin” for a travel blog or maybe “In the Kitchen with Kim” for a foodie blog.)

After you have a few contenders for your blog name, it’s important to check across all social media platforms (Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc) to see if your name is available.  If it is, grab it!  For a cohesive brand it is so nice to be recognized across all social media with the same name.

3. Host Your Blog


There are several options out there and a very popular one to go with is Bluehost because you can host for as little as $2.65 a month!!  They have been around forever.  Bluehost is reputable and extremely affordable.  This is a great option if you want a Wordpress blog.  I am not a web designer and not a very tech savvy person, so I went a different route.

I chose to host and create a site with SquareSpace.  Pricing is tiered so you only pay for what you need.  I love this.  I currently pay $18 a month for my blog.

What I love most about Squarespace is how easy it is to customize my site with multiple blog pages, a store, landing pages, etc.  It is perfect for bloggers, etsy shop owners and small businesses.  It is powerful and user friendly!

You can get a 14 day FREE TRIAL to Squarespace just to try it out.  Students are also eligible for a 50% discount!  

A few more reasons I chose Squarespace:

  • Simplicity and a small learning curve. Like I said, I’m not tech savvy.

  • Drag & drop design. I love how easy designing a page is and that it auto updates so that I can see exactly what it will look like.

  • Customer Support. OMGosh! Squarespace is amazing for their customer support. Because everything is in house and I am not dealing with a theme creator and the plug-in developer (like you have to do with Wordpress), it is so easy to get help when I need it most.

  • No Site Maintenance. Spacespace is a closed source platform. There are no other developers updating plug-ins (or NOT updating them) that cause my site to not perform properly.

4. Design Your Blog

  • You want to think about your brand colors carefully. Colors evoke emotions and have different meanings. (Yellow = happy. Purple = royalty.) Do some research here. There are some amazing companies out there who will create an entire brand, logo, SEO and custom site for you. Here is a great one with absolutely beautiful designs.

  • Find one or two fonts that you like and are easy to read. I love Open Sans. I use it throughout my entire site.

  • Design your logo (it can just be your domain name in your chosen font for now) or you can pay to have one designed from companies like this one.

  • Choose your website theme. There are several excellent ones from Squarespace. A few of my favorites for blogging (because of the sidebar feature) are: Avenue, Five and Galapagos. You could also opt for a custom design offered by a designer.

  • Choose your blog categories. Just a few to start out with it totally fine.

  • Now it’s time to start adding your content and writing your little heart out!

PRO-TIP:  

Set up a scheduler like SmarterQueue to put posting your blog posts to social media on auto-pilot.


Essential Pages For Your Blog

  • About

  • Contact

  • Affiliate Disclaimer

  • Privacy Policy

5. Monetize Your Blog


You can start making money from your blog in your first month.  The easiest way to do this is through affiliate marketing.  This is blogging about and promoting products and services you love to use on your blog.  When someone makes a purchase through your link, you receive a commission from the sale. 

I learned so much from How To Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours ebook.  It's only $25 and I made that investment right back!

Another course that has been a tremendous help is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.  It has really opened my eyes to all the possible ways to earn affiliate income.  I'm implementing some of Michelle's ideas now and already seeing benefits. I can't say enough about this course!

  
I am working on another blog post now with tons of Affiliate Marketing Programs you can join.  Look for it next week and I will update this post here when that blog post is published.  Or just join my newsletter list for sweet updates and words of encouragement for your creative business journey.


Amazon is the absolute easiest one out there to join and promote products from.  We all know that Amazon has everything!  Haha!


Besides affiliate marketing, there are a few other ways to monetize your blog:

  • Advertise in your sidebar (you will need a good bit of traffic for this!)

  • Create a digital product to sell (ebook, course, etc.)

  • Write sponsored posts for different brands

  • Offer design, freelance or other services on your blog

Blogging takes a lot of work and the learning curve is steep.  But anyone can do it!  If you are willing to put in the hours, take it seriously and run it like a business you can make it profitable too! 

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If you need help or just some encouragement, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter where I share tips and tricks along the way of my blogging adventure :)

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