Meet Emily. Emily is a photographer who had a very busy 2015, especially the weeks leading up to the Holidays. Every weekend in October and November was booked solid; and for the low price that she started off at, her work was considered a steal by local standards.
She was a shoot-and-burn photographer in 2015, and she was fine with that…that is, until she went over to see a good friend/client for dinner.
Emily’s friend had printed one of her images through a popular, but not professional, vendor. At first, from a distance, she knew that something was off. The image wasn’t what she remembered from her computer screen. When she got even closer, her fears were confirmed: the oranges in the print were over-saturated due to bad printing, and the skin tones looked terrible. Her baby’s blonde hair even had an orange hue to it.
Emily’s skin flushed, and she looked to her friend, who seemed oblivious to the bad printing job. Her mind raced, worrying how many other people would see that print and judge her work. Her friend seemed proud of the print, so Emily didn’t want to bring the bad print up in an awkward way; but wow. Just…wow.
After Emily left her friend’s home, she made a promise to herself to never put herself, her clients, or her artwork in that position again. She worked too hard on those images, and lost too much time with her precious family, to see bad prints on her clients’ walls.
It was time to start selling prints and products, as Emily wanted to regain control over her art.
But, where should she even START?
Let’s put ourselves in Emily’s shoes, and I will give you the same suggestions I would have given her in a coaching consult for in-person selling.
When making the switch from being a shoot-and-burn photographer to selling products, the process can be totally overwhelming. With the sheer number of vendors and products out there, your eyes can quickly cross in coming up with a final list of products that you will proudly sell to your amazing clients. But, with a few tips, you can start to feel more confident in making this leap.
Think about your clients
Are you a primarily family photographer? Or boudoir? What about seniors? Or a combination of all three?
Think about a three must-haves that your clients tend to love in their homes. Loose prints and certain custom products, such as canvases, tend to work well across most genres. If you specialize, it may be easier to come up with this list. I know that my high school senior girls love their custom graduation announcements and albums.
A quick tip in narrowing down your list: ask! Consider taking your favorite client from each of your niches to lunch to answer a list of questions, such as:
- When you booked me, what were you planning on using the images for?
- What are your favorite photography products, and why?
- How would you like to display your photography artwork in your home?
- What attracts you to certain products, and why?
Think about yourself
Now that you have a nifty list of potential products to sell, think about how you would feel selling them. If you hate mini collages, it will be very hard to sell them even if your favorite client loves them. Why is that? Well, because you won’t be confident in talking about it; and if you aren’t confident in talking about your product list, you won’t sell whatever that is on your list.
If your ideal client gives you a list of ten things they love, but you only love three of those products, that’s three products you can rock.
Let’s go back to the canvases. I love them and can sell the heck out of them! If you love them so much that you can proudly hang them on the walls of your home, and talk about them proudly because they are the centerpiece of your home artwork, then sell those! Your authentic words of praise will come through, and your clients will become excited to adorn their walls with a gorgeous canvas from you as well.
As you narrow down your list of items to sell, think about the words you will use in talking to your clients. If you can’t think of five great words to describe a product, then cut it from your list.
When you love what you sell, your body language will prove it. Your smile will widen, and you will sit up more in your chair. If you don’t love what you sell, you will subconsciously slump down, your smile will seem more fake, and your words will be harder to come by.
In other words, you become much more believable when you show people your products. It’s just like you are putting your own personal stamp of approval before your clients’ artwork is even created.
Think about simplicity
Have you ever gone into a great restaurant starving and was handed a menu that was 10 pages long?
Now. While that may seem awesome on some levels, when you are hungry, do you want a thousand choices, or do you just want good food (and soon)?
Some people like a lot of choices; however, most don’t. You see, by offering too many choices (whether it be with food, with clothing, or with photography products), you may think that you are giving people the best opportunity to be satisfied with their business experience; but in reality, the opposite can happen. In fact, when offered too many options, your mind effectively locks up, which can result in confusion, anxiety, or even walking away. Read more about the Paralyzing Problem of Too Many Choices.
We definitely don’t want confusion or anxiety when people look at your products, or to experience any form of buyers remorse because they wonder if they made the right choices during the ordering session. You want them to be thrilled with the experience with you, and excited to hang your products on their walls!
Only offer a few products, and not a long menu. Keep it simple, especially when first starting with products.
After five years working with seniors I continue to offer only four products: albums, prints, canvases, and announcements. That is by design, not default. This allows me to speak clearly and confidently about my products, and helps me to know my product menu inside, out, and sideways.
Think about your vendors
This may seem like a no-brainer, but this can make ALL of the difference.
Choose vendors that you trust, that offer reliable products and delivery dates, and those that have their printers calibrated to your monitors. I can’t stress this one enough! When I first started out in the biz, I never knew that I needed to calibrate. I lost a lot of prints that way, so don’t make my mistake.
Inspecting your products ahead of giving them to your clients is a great way to figure out which vendors are best for you.
Think about packaging
This is a topic that is often thought of once the first set of products arrive on your doorstep. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Packaging creates a great “touch” to your products. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can really add an impact when you deliver your goods.
Companies like MPix Pro, Millers Professional, ProDPI and many others offer boutique packaging as an add-on for prints 11×14 or smaller for a small fee. This is a great option for those who don’t want to keep an inventory of packaging, or if you tend to be forgetful.
You don’t have to go over-the-top here; you just have to make sure that the packaging is something that makes you smile when you see it.
Taking the leap into selling products can be scary when you first start; however, it is very doable if you take the right steps. Allow yourself some time to learn about what makes you and your clients “tick” as a product-based photographer, and soon you will find your sales growing more and more.
Here is the bottom line: you can make in-person ordering work for you, your family, and your business. By addressing your fears, and working toward confronting them, you will find your business growing in ways that you only imagined before.