Tag Cloud

Here’s a tag cloud that describes SharedInk. We used this in the back wall on our booth at Imaging USA and WPPI trade shows this year. This does a pretty good job describing what SharedInk is about. It was fun to see what grabbed people’s attention.

No-Hassle Proof Books

Looking for a unique way to present your images? Proof books are a great way to show off photos from an entire event before selling prints, albums, and other products.

Despite often having more than 1000 images, creating a proof book doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Using Adobe Bridge & Photoshop, we’ve refined the proof book design process into a few simple steps.

Check out this quick video tutorial with how Eric (our customer advocate) likes to create proof books:

Wedding Book Grand Slam

wedding books

Increase your profits and do your clients a favor by offering keepsakes of their special day that will last for generations.

There are only so many days in the year to book clients so take advantage of each opportunity to increase your revenue. You have four opportunities for photo book and album sales with every wedding you shoot. Present them correctly and you’ll have a happy bride and more money in the bank. The opportunities are:

  1. Guest Book
  2. Proof Book
  3. Wedding Album and Parent Albums
  4. Wedding Memory Book

Guest Book

“Guest books sell engagement sessions, and engagement sessions sell guest books.”

Guest books go hand in hand with an engagement shoot. Showing a sample guest book when booking the wedding is the easiest way to book an engagement shoot. If you already have the engagement shoot lined up then offering a guest book it is another opportunity to sell it as an add-on revenue opportunity.

Proof Books

Most SharedInk customers that supply proof books to their clients do it as part of a package and not an add-on product. Offering a printed proof book has several advantages

  • It is an extra touch that sets you apart from the competition.
  • You can paint the picture of the bride sitting on the couch with her mother viewing the photos and selecting the favorites.
  • Prints can be scanned and emailed or reprinted. Even if they don’t have the quality of prints you supply, free is very tempting.

A SharedInk proof book has the same high quality printing and goes through the same QA processes as all of our photo books. Some of the best books have a single large image on the first page with title text, then one to three pages of images you select and would like to steer your client towards. The remainder of the book is standard proof images, easily created in minutes using the Adobe Bridge Output tool.

Wedding and Parent Albums

Do your clients a huge favor and supply some type of wedding album in all your wedding packages. Depending on your clientele, you might use SharedInk 6 color books in your less expensive packages and upgraded papers and covers, or flush mount albums, in your premium packages.

A few years from now your clients will be very glad they have the album.

“90 days after the wedding is the best time to upgrade clients.”

There seems to be a trend among many photographers to offer a press printed wedding album as a standard part of the wedding package, and then offer a flush mount album as an upsell opportunity later. It seems that 90 days after the wedding is the best time to offer upgrades. Your client is into their new life routine, earning paychecks, with maybe some money in the bank from wedding gits. This is the ideal time to upgrade their albums or other photo products.

Parent albums are a great opportunity to increase your revenues with very little work. Occasionally photographers order multiple copies of the bride’s album for parents, but normally it is a smaller, less expensive version of the same book. Contact us and we can provide you with a smaller “clone” of the bride’s album. Some photographer’s swapping out cover images or other pages in the book for the different sides of the family.

Wedding Memory Book

This book tells the details of the day and is the place for all those photos that don’t make the album cut. The bride can select all the photos she wants, allowing the wedding album focus on the story of the day. It is also a great use of all those photo booth photos. Read the blog post for more info.

The Wedding Book Grand Slam

Maximize your profits by always offering these four products for all of your weddings. The increased revenue is a real grand slam!

Trade Show Tips

We had a great time at both Imaging USA in New Orleans and WPPI in Las Vegas. Aside from getting to show the work we take pride in, another valuable part of going to trade shows is hearing the awesome ideas other photographers share with us throughout each expo.

Here are some of our favorite tips from people we met:

  • Many Seniors are using their portrait books as a signature book. Leave blank space in the portrait book so friends can sign the books like a yearbook or wedding guest book.
  • Launch an email campaign promoting books, calendars, or other products a couple of months before the holidays. It’s a great opportunity to get follow up orders from customers from throughout the year, and time it right and they’ll thank you for the gift ideas.
  • Instead of offering every book size, paper choice, and cover option, choose 2 or 3 to offer your customer. Making all your products similar will cut down on your design time and with narrower choices, your client will be able to make decisions faster.
  • Instead of meeting clients in your studio or in public (like in a coffee shop), have your initial meeting in their home. You’ll be able to get a feel for their style and personality.
  • Brand the back cover and last page of every book you design. Include your website URL. You never know when a potential client may be leafing through a wedding album or portrait book.
  • Instead of naming your photo packages something like “Basic, Standard, & Premium”, try something alternative like “New York, Milan, & Paris”. This way, all your clients feel like their getting a great packages- not something they have to “settle” for because of a smaller budget.

We are so happy to have had to opportunity to meet many of you at the shows. Want to brainstorm further ways to integrate photo books into the solution you offer your customers? We’re always happy to help.

The Ten Minute Portrait Album

Have you ever wanted to enhance your portrait session revenues, but the album design process seems overwhelming? Are you looking for an easy way to enhance your portrait package?

Creating an album doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. Of course we love making big, tricked out, all the bells and whistles metal-cover books with a photographers heart poured into every page, but sometimes a nice, simple, inexpensive professional quality book that shows off your photos can help differentiate your portrait packages and increase your profits.

We’ve created a quick video tutorial with how Eric (our customer advocate) likes to create portrait books in less than 10 minutes using Photoshop and Adobe Bridge.

In this video you will learn how to design and order a portrait album in less than 10 minutes!

Don’t forget that studio samples sell themselves. Take advantage of our 33% studio sample discount program. Have any questions? Let us know! 

Laura Cottril – Growing your Portrait Business

Laura Cottril is a portrait photographers in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides clients a complete portrait solution. Learn from her experience how she has been able to almost double her per session sales by spending quality time with her clients.

Personalized service

A big key to Laura’s success has been to go to the client’s home for the initial consultation. This is a great way for Laura to develop the relationship, view the client’s style, and provide a high level of customer service.

If the client primarily has small, high quality art, matted and framed, Laura suggests fine art photos in matted frames, and doesn’t recommend a canvas. Laura takes this opportunity to brainstorm display ideas and get excited about the session with the client. This is the “planting seeds” portion of the relationship, when you and the client are developing a plan together. Then when it is time for the sale, it is simple to refer back to the plan when presenting your work.

Laura also takes photos of possible display locations that she can use in the sales session with ProSelect. The program enables her to show the client room with their portraits displayed as an overlay at various sizes. This is a big hit with the client and also shows what “too big” or “too small” look like. You may think you don’t have time to be spending with each client like this, but because of this client commitment Laura photographs less clients and makes higher sales per client.

Photo books

Some client’s don’t want large portraits of themselves and their family around the house. For these clients she leads with portrait books. Laura takes their word with a grain of salt as she has had clients say they didn’t like portraits all over their home only to turn around and purchase exactly that! It is very different once a client experiences the process and sees the beautiful portraits of their own family! Another great selling point for portrait books is when the client “loves them all” and “how can I ever decide?”. A portrait book is a great solution and Laura emphasizes the benefits in that each portrait is retouched, the book is custom graphic designed and the book itself is made from high quality archival materials. This book is a special way to include all the client’s favorites in a beautiful package.

“I prefer the coffee table book over a thick paged flush mount album because I think it looks more like an art book I would find on photography at the book store. Someone once compared the stiff page books [flush mount albums] to books you read to babies and I never got that out of my head. My goal is to provide my client with a high quality product that also has a high perceived value and something they could not get on their own.”

Portrait books have a lot of time and talent involved in photographing, creating and printing them. Laura makes sure to capture the value of the book with a simplified strategy.

“Rather than quoting a huge number for the book and having them go into shock over it, I’ve come up with a “per page” cost. This way I quote to the client how much it is by the page and tell them they can make the book larger or smaller to fit their budget! This puts the cost decision in the hands of the customer, and doesn’t make me the bad guy. Even though it is still expensive, when it is broken down as a page cost, it feels more acceptable to the clients. Most of my clients will order a twenty page book. I let them know that they should average 2-3 images per page. Less if they want more full page images. This helps the client narrow down their favorites in order to fit their page count.”

Laura charges a similar amount per book page to her 8×10″ portrait price. Having multiple images on a page and the design work required makes a photo book page a good value for the client. When they ask about the pricing, once this is pointed out it makes sense and the client feels more comfortable. This formula only works if you are charging adequately for your 8×10″ prints. Costs factored in to the 8×10″ are print cost, retouching and packaging. Laura also subs out the retouching and graphic design for the books so these costs are factored in at 30% of her total cost to the client. This also allows for 30% business overhead with 30% going to you. It is easier to stand behind your pricing when you understand what your costs really are. When you consider that you are receiving 30% of the sale of the book you must also consider if you feel like you are getting paid what you are worth. What is your “happy” number? (Note: even if you are doing the retouching and graphic design, you should be compensated for that. Your time is money!)

Once photos are selected, if the design calls for a couple of extra pages Laura often adds them with no extra charge to the client. The cost of a few extra pages is minimal and the client is thrilled when you point out your bonus gift to them.

Marketing

Laura’s strategy seems to be working. In the last year or so average sales per portrait session has almost doubled.

To find these higher-end clients, Laura partners with other local businesses that cater to the type of client that Laura wants. Laura calls this micro-targeting. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • One recent partnership is with a landscape architect who plans to give her best clients a gift certificate for Cottril’s photography. “The intention is for me to photograph the family in their newly landscaped yard. By also photographing the landscape architect and providing her with samples, I can share my experiences with her clients. In turn she can provide me with guidance in my yard.” One thing Laura does to make it a win-win for the referring company is to ask the families if the images can be used on both companies websites.
  • Another example is a referral from a friend that is a post-partum doula. Marketing photographic services to families with newborns is not an original idea, but having a plan in place to get referrals to the right clients makes all the difference.

Once you’ve taken a photography oriented sales class or two, you will find you are getting a lot of similar information, look into sales training outside the photography industry. Looking at training outside the photography industry will provide a fresh perspective and also give you ideas that will work with your marketing partners.

Sources for sales and marketing information and training that have helped Laura include PPA Studio Management Services, Sarah Petty of joyofmarketing.com, and Jesse and Sharla of rejuvenateyourpractice.com.

Choose the Right Suppliers

Laura advises not to offer too many products, focus on a few high value products that customers can’t get elsewhere. Laura generally offers clients:

  • Canvas wraps
  • Photo Books from SharedInk
  • Fine art prints from Jonathan Penney
  • Gift sized photos and holiday cards are add-ons to the sale

Along the way Laura learned to outsource things that were holding her back. Laura says: “Let go of things you don’t enjoy.” This philosophy, which she “learned through pain” , allows her to spend her time behind the lens, servicing clients, and networking.

When selecting products Laura advises that partnering with suppliers can make a big difference in studio success. Currently Laura outsources her photo retouching and album design. (editors note: Laura outsources most of her page design, but she designed this awesome photo cover. This is what Laura has to say about SharedInk:

“Hands down I am always impressed with Shared Ink customer service! My friend and I used to joke that (you) were just sitting there waiting for us to send you a book because the response time was so great! This is so helpful for my business as the ordering process is so smooth, with any questions or problems worked out quickly. This keeps the book ordering from being bogged down and helps me get my client’s books to them quickly. I appreciate when anyone can help me keep the flow moving!”

About Laura

Laura Cottril Photography specializes in maternity, children and family portraits using natural light. Laura has been profiled in Professional Photographer magazine, Rangefinder and ProPhoto West magazines. Laura continues to learn and expand her skills and is in the process of becoming a master and craftsman, and enjoys having speaking engagements and seminars to share her expertise with other photographers. You can see Laura’s web site at www.lauracphotography.com.