More Than 3 Packages Could Ruin Your Photography Business

16 06 2011

The human brain is an amazing thing. We can learn everything from a foreign language, to complex scientific formulas. Every day can be filled with the excitement of learning something new.

 

But if you think about how you learn things, chances are you learn a small part of something in one day, and quickly begin to block other things out. That’s because we learn in short bursts. If someone is talking, we tend to retain less than 20 percent of what was said. That’s why in training programs you’ll hear the same things again and again, trying to make the most important items stick with you.

 

 

No matter how much a person is interested in your photography, after awhile they’ll begin losing attention, and getting lost in your words. It’s not they aren’t interested; you’ve just reached their retention point. So if you have a huge pricing structure that takes several minutes to go through, they’ll retain the first minute or so, and be completely lost after that.

 

Instead of creating a long, complicated package list, keep it simple. Present everything you do in three clear ways. Don’t have multiple packages where each package increases slightly in price with just one or two difference. Make them distinctly different, and make it clearly obvious that you get a better deal by moving to the next package.

 

In my Pricing Guide I talk at length about building packages for you, not for your client. The ultimate goal of a package isn’t to give your client a good deal (though they ultimately do), the goal is to get you the sales you need for your business, and the profit you need to stay in business.

 

By sticking with three packages, your client won’t lose interest as you talk about each one, and they won’t get confused over the differences in each package. Make each package distinct and stand alone. You should never have to think about the differences – they should be obvious. You should also concentrate on making your middle package being the best – the package you would love to sell again and again to every client. Because ultimately that’s what you’ll do. People love the middle – the smaller one seems too “cheap” and the higher one seems a little “extravagant”. Which means the middle one is “just right”.

 

If you sold 100 packages over the next few months, 10 at the bottom level, 10 at the top, and 80 in the middle, would that make your business? If the answer is yes, then you’re on your way to creating perfect packages.





10 Things You Never Want To Do With Your Online Photography Portfolio

11 05 2011

As a photographer, your most important marketing tool is your online photography portfolio. On your website or your blog, this is what’s going to showcase your work, and get you hired. Yet I see mistakes all the time. And I have a ton of questions like, “Why isn’t my site getting any traffic?” and “Why aren’t people contacting me online?” Here are 10 mistakes I see frequently – do you see yourself here?

1. Enter Page
Do you really need to divide up your site, and dedicate one whole page to making your visitors choose? If they type in your URL, they want to see your site. They want to start learning about you immediately, not have to decide if they want to visit your Flash site, Mobile site, Fast site, Slow site, Blog, Flickr portfolio, etc. Yes, you can weave things into your site, and have things on the side of your content that allows them to navigate elsewhere. But don’t make your first impression just a choice.

2. Photo Size
Have you ever gone to a photographer’s site, only to wait 30 seconds for it to load a huge file thousands of pixels in size? Boring. This is the web. You don’t need large files – the smaller the better for loading, and to protect you from clients downloading them to manipulate them. Stick to an image that is between 500-1000 pixels on the long edge, depending on how you are grouping them together. Read the rest of this entry »





7 Tips To Create A Highly Marketable Social Media Portrait Session

4 11 2010

I first introduced the concept of a social media package over a year ago when I introduced Neil Creek, a photographer who created MeetHeads as a way of introducing people to his portrait studio through the use of social portraits.

Since then I’ve been watching the trends with social media portrait packages, and taking in how photographers are using them. There is definitely a right and wrong way to introducing social media to your clients. Yet as most photographers today continue to hand over the digital files, and your clients are using them in social media anyway, why not create a package just for them? Not sure how? Follow these tips.

1. Think outside the box with your sessions. How can you get creative, take images from a variety of angles, and give your clients many opportunities for sharing images online? Talk with your client about likes/interests. Incorporate some of their favorite hobbies into the session as well.

2. Put the focus on social media. Facebook is the rage right now, so use it. Market your portrait session as a great way to share images with the online world. You can even provide perfectly cropped photographs, sized specifically for different social sites. Social Media Training

3. Introduce props and special options. How about a glamour session – work with a local hair/makeup artist who can spend an hour before hand glamorizing your client. Seasonal portraits can also be fun – fall colors, winter snow, and summer on the beach.

4. Don’t hand over a raw disk; make sure your packaging says wow as well.
For a low cost, you can buy blank CD/DVD holders, and customize the front packaging. Then screen print your CD/DVD with your branding, or print one off with a CD label maker for and even more customized look.

5. Charge appropriately. If you’re handing over one file of a quick 20 minute session, $99 may be okay. But if you’re doing an hour or more shoot of an entire family, and spending time customizing the images, you can charge several hundred dollars or more. They get the files, and they will print large images if they desire to do so. Part of your fee is for the entertainment factor of the session as well. If they have fun, feel comfortable with you, and like the results, several hundred dollars is more than reasonable.

6. Create social media days. Especially if you are creating a specific background, or on location at a local park, limit your social media sessions. If you shoot one a month, 4 sessions at a time, people will quickly learn there is a high demand for your service. Create a waiting list, and announce a month or two at a time. If you make each month in a different location, it will quickly become a limited event, and you’ll have more than enough business to fill each session.

7. Add something that says WOW. You’ve read about Moo cards here quite a bit – I love them. So why not add a mosaic frame filled with Moo cards as one of your options. If you are photographing a family, you’ll come up with a variety of images of individuals as well as the group. Create a pack of mini-cards, throw in a frame, and along with the CD/DVD of the images, you’ll have your clients talking in no time.

And if you want to try out Moo today, I’ve got a special that will allow you to do so with a 10% discount. If you’re new to Moo, type in RZUMYP at check out, and you’ll get 10% off your entire order. It’s only through September 30, 2010, so get going on your first order.





8 Ways To Make Your Photography Clients Feel Like A Million Bucks

2 09 2010

What does the average company do when times are tough? They tighten their belts, take away marketing campaigns, and delete services that cost money. They try and get by spending as little as possible, while still trying to bring in clients that will pay a ton of money.

And because many companies are running their businesses this way now, it’s almost become the norm to accept poor or low quality service. So why not change that around and give your clients something that makes them say “WOW”.

That’s the difference between a solo professional photographer and a franchise or a big box location. When you are on your own, you can do whatever it takes to bring in the best clients, and make them happy for life. The true value of a client can be worth thousands of dollars to you. So why not invest some of that money back into your client to make sure they are happy?

1. Start with making your product exceptional. Look at how your photographs leave your studio. Are they loose prints, or do you mount every image on matboard or foam core? Do you put them into a plastic bag, or are they wrapped in paper and boxes with your colors and logos? Think about the difference between buying a shirt at Walmart, and buying a shirt at Nordstoms. Walmart employees throw your purchase into a flimsy plastic bag. Nordstoms employees wrap your shirt in tissue, place it into a beautiful custom bag, and presents it to you buy coming around the counter to hand it to you. Think about the impression you are leaving.

2. How do you talk about your work? Do you shoot pictures, or do you capture original imagery? People value things more when there is more value associated with it. And because you can change an opinion just by the way you talk, you should definitely start with your presentations. I once had a photography mentor who put on white gloves to handle all of his work in front of clients. Necessary? Probably not. But it definitely left an impression with his clients – and they valued his work all the more.

3. Always give the surprises. When a client comes in to pick up their finished product, give them more than what they expect. If they buy a box of 8 notecards from you, include 8 stamps in the box so mailing is easier. If they pick up a large portrait in a frame, include a small hanging kit, including nails, hammer and a level. While the little extras don’t cost a lot more, they really leave an impact on your clients.

4. Invest in notecards. As a photographer, you should be mailing out notecards to your clients all the time. You can buy greeting cards from the store, have greeting cards made from your favorite images, or print greeting cards with your clients’ images. Or a combination of the three. Then mail to your best clients over and over again. Mail them for birthdays and anniversaries. Mail them if you see your clients in the news, or if something in the news reminds you of a client. Mail them before holidays – not just the big ones, find little ones too. You can always come up with something fun to celebrate National Ice Cream Day.

5. Have a giveaway just for your clients. I know a great realtor here in town that holds a giveaway once a year for all of his clients. He gives away some great prizes: weekend trips, 50” televisions, and more. It’s helped him double his business year after year. Take that idea and run with it – it doesn’t have to be on a large scale. Maybe a digital camera and a half-day training on how to use it.

6. Hold a party for your clients. If you have a studio with beautiful grounds, bring your clients in for a party. If you don’t, talk with an event place in your area about hosting a party. Especially if you are in the wedding photography niche, you can probably bargain with event sites and caterers for a great deal on the services by holding your event on an off time – October instead of holiday months, or Thursday night instead of the weekend. Combine it with a giveaway, and your party could quickly become the talk of the town.

7. Send surprise gifts for no reason at all. List out your top clients, and start learning more about them. When will they turn 30 (40, 50, etc)? Send a bouquet of flowers or balloons to add into the celebration. Or send a lunchbox filled with nutritious snacks in August before your top client’s first child starts kindergarten. Little things like this don’t take a lot of money, but the thought behind it speaks volumes. And if you have a client that just spent $2000 on a family portrait, what’s a $50 gift worth, especially if you book them again for another $2000 portrait next year?

8. Set up client exclusive events. There’s nothing more beautiful than a winter portrait, with the snow softly blanketing a field, and a family enjoying the peacefulness of the moment. The problem here in Denver is that is a hard scene to create. While we do get many snowy days, you never know if you’ll have snow – or blue sky – until you wake up. Put your top clients on a list for an exclusive portrait experience, and you’ll plan it based on the weather forecast. The only way to get on the exclusive list is to be a client. Use this concept for your local area, and come up with exclusive events that only your clients can get in on. Then advertise for it. Nothing sells better than exclusivity.

A happy client is a referring client. They will tell everyone around them about you. And thanks to Facebook and other online tools, even that can expand exponentially. So invest a little into your clients, and build a strong, healthy business.





Destination Photographer – Does It Have To Be Weddings?

27 04 2010

“I love the idea of traveling with my photography. I’ve done a few weddings, but I’m not excited about making them my specialty. Do I have to do weddings to be a destination photographer?”

destination photographerThe great thing about being in business for yourself is you create the rules. Anything is possible as long as you build to make it possible.

What is your idea of photography? How can you turn it into a business that allows you to travel?

Maybe you enjoy shooting in warm places in the heart of the winter. Why not become a fashion or product photographer? Catalogs are developed months in advance. They need someone to be shooting catalog spreads in places that show off their newest product line. So a company in Wisconsin may need swimsuit and spring fashion shoots on the beach in the Caribbean in January or February.

What about portraits? Thanks to the Internet, you can build up your client base anywhere in the world. Maybe your goal is to live three months on a warm, tropical beach. Plan for it months ahead, put together a website, and start selling photographs on the beach. Promote it to your existing clients, and they may just change their vacation plans to meet you on the beach.

Destination can be anything you want it to be. But it usually starts with an idea or two. Destination can mean anywhere in the world. So it’s up to you to decide where in the world that means.

Once you have your destination in mind, then you can put the business to work.

photo source whoALSE





10 Tips For Taking Portraits In The Cold and Snow

14 01 2010

1. Choose your location before the clients arrive. In the summer it’s nice to walk around, shooting in several places. In the winter, the cold can get to you quickly. Have places picked out ahead of time, and walk your clients there quickly. Keep them bundled in coats or close to the car until the shoot, then move quickly. Avoid the red noses and cheeks if possible.

2. Wear all the snow gear. Your clients will be in a fairly comfortable place. But to get the best shot, you may need to head into a snow bank, lay down on the snow. Make sure you have boots, gloves and a warm hat, and maybe even snow pants to keep you warm and dry.

iStock_000009691929XSmall

3. Have your clients dress for the snow too. It may seem silly to remind your clients to dress for the snow. But the last thing you want them to do is show up with a 3 year old in a holiday dress and shoes, crying because she’s freezing. Give them a clothing consultation, and have them dress similarly and appropriately.

4. You don’t need a ton of snow to create a great backdrop. Look for interesting viewpoints – tunnels, pathways or backdrops. Then move your subjects in the scene to complete the image.

5. Use the snow as a prop. Snow can add dimension to your portraits, and can give you a soft glow. Make sure you use a lens hood to prevent the snow from falling onto your lens.

6. Have the family bring along props. If they want an outdoor winter portrait, chances are they like to play in the snow too. Do they have skis, snowshoes or a snowmobile? Incorporate that into the image for something personal to the family.

7. Overexpose your images. With the majority of your background being white, you’ll need to overexpose your images by a stop or two. With digital, you can play around with your settings and see your results before you place your subjects into the image.

8. Have a call list for snow days. Many areas can go weeks without a snow storm, then be hit by several inches of beautiful snow. Create a reserve list, and give them a call early in the morning to head out and shoot. If it’s cloudy and snowy all day, you may be able to get several clients in per day.

9. Price your snow day sessions higher than regular sessions. These are limited editions – they can only take place when it snows. With your reserve list, they will quickly become an in demand item. Take the session fee up front in order to be placed on the reserve list. That will make them more motivated to keep the session.

10. End with photojournalism. After you get your posed images, stage a snowball fight or build a snowman. Capture the family having fun, and you’ll get some dynamite fill-in images that they may like even better than the posed.

Helping your photography business, how to start a photography business and wedding photography business visit virtualphotographystudio.com and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.





Photographers – Make Your Own Light Reflector

29 09 2009

Are you starting your own photography business? Then you know the value of learning how to make your own light reflector. Not only can it save you money to invest somewhere else, but it can also give you a quick way to instantly improve your photography.
When shooting portraits outside, it’s easy to tuck people next to trees and near buildings to avoid the harsh sunlight. But sometimes you find a scene that would be perfect for your client – yet the direct sunlight is streaming in. That’s when a lift reflector comes in handy.
When people talk about light reflectors, they are usually talking about one of two things.  A light reflector that bounces the light.

A light diffuser that softens the light.

A light reflector generally comes in two colors, silver and gold. Silver provides a bright reflection; gold provides a warmer, softer glow. Both are designed to be used close to the subject, using the light as a directional source to bounce back into the subjects face. Play with the reflector until you get the lighting you are looking for – its easy to see results just by tilting the reflector.
A light diffuser is made of white material, and is designed to absorb the light, soften it, and spread it evenly over the subject. The larger the diffuser, the more area you can block from the sunlight. We always carry at least to 3 foot by 6 foot panels with us to make sure we can have soft lighting no matter where we are.
While many different types of reflectors are available from stores and through various Internet sites, there is an advantage to learning how to make your own light reflector.
1. You can make as many as you choose. Save even more by buying in bulk or by watching for sales.
2. Build a frame and change out materials. Less to carry in your equipment pack.
3. Create the sizes you need most.
Want to learn how to make your own light reflector? We’ve used this blueprint for years in our own studio. I know you’re going to love it.