First, I’ll start off with a confession. My name is Emily and sometimes I shoot and burn. Anyone else out there with me on this one? I know, I know, its not easy to admit in this community, but I know a ton of photographers do it. Why do I sometimes shoot and burn? Honestly sometimes after dealing with all that comes along with selling and processing an Emily Photo wedding package, it’s nice to do a 2-hour shoot, burn a disk and be done. Done in just a few hours, ahhh doesn’t that sound great? For me, this model doesn’t make sense for my wedding or portrait clients, but for a child’s birthday or anniversary party, it works great!
I’ve been booking more and more of these filler gigs and I began to wonder, is this worth my time? I’m making $300 maybe $400 for a few hours on a Saturday. That’s nice, but it is my Saturday after all. I wondered how could I maximize my benefit? I was at a two-year-old birthday party a few months ago when it came to me. As I shot frosting covered faces, little toddlers making friends, and families enjoying each other, I realized I’m photographing some pretty important portraits of these people. This could be the beginning of something great with these families.
At a typical birthday party I would pass out business cards to those who asked and I would post on Pictage, but no one was contacting me and no one was visiting my event. I decided to make a change that made a big difference. I started posting on Pictage a week or two before the clients get the disk. Not only that, I made it clear to my client, why I was doing that.
- Delaying the disk – This made a big difference because if the client is really excited about the photos, she wants to show them ASAP. She (or he) is going to pass that Pictage link on to lots of people. I try to release the event when the client’s at work so they can share with their co-workers too.
- Communicating about why – Just like I do with my wedding and portrait clients, I spend some time explaining why they’re going on Pictage and why there’s a delay in the disk. Once they understand that you don’t want your name on Walgreens prints, they’re much less likely to post all the photos on a photo-sharing site. I found a Usage Rights document on the Pictage forums that I now send them. Also, if you offer the pre-registration credit, let them know that everyone that views the event gets $5 or more off any print order.
Why is it so important to get them to my event on Pictage? First, the interface makes me look more professional, it fits by brand. Second, Pictage produces high quality prints for clients that meet my standards.
Some of these parties produce print sales and some don’t at all, but the key to getting any and all guests to visit the site is capturing their email addresses in the “guest list”. Two days after my last birthday party was released I had 83 guests in that event, a week later it grew to 111 and still continues to grow! I’ve been doing this from the beginning with weddings but from a shoot and burn one-year-old birthday party? I’ll take it. Depending on how many events I shoot, I can get hundreds of email addresses for my mailing list each month, people pay a lot of money for these things!
There are many ways to use these contacts, here are a few things I do –
- Give them all a $5 Pictage print credit to nudge them to get a print or two.
- Add them to my master email list for newsletters, mini session notifications, and seasonal offers.
- Send them a special offer like 20% off a sitting fee during a slower month.
- Send a simple thank you for viewing.
Whatever I do, I stay relevant. I try to keep my name, my brand, and my photos in the back of their minds.
I encourage you to post all your events online, view the guest lists, and capture those emails. If you’re not getting a ton of guests, think about why. Try delaying a disk, or passing out event cards.
The new Pictage Interface makes it easy to dig deeper too. You can sort by role type (mother, cousin, grandma, etc) and target market them for certain campaigns. You can also sort by who spent the most money and possibly offer them a thank you credit or special offer. There are a ton of options so definitely check it out.
How do you best use your guest list?
Written By Emily Engle
Emily Engle is the Community Development Manager at Pictage and runs a Los Angeles area Wedding and Portrait Photography business, Emily Photo.