If photography is your full-time gig – or for that matter, even if it’s just a part-time gig – then you’re probably interested in finding ways to grow your business and make more money. Even the most successful photographers are looking for ways to increase revenue – and increase profit. That’s the purpose of a business, otherwise it’s just a hobby.
At the same time, many photographers are intimidated by the process of “selling” their work. It’s not only scary to ask people for money – it often goes against our passion for creating art. Fortunately, there are some really simple things you can do to help increase your sales starting with your next wedding or portrait session.
1. Shoot with the end in mind.
When I’m shooting a wedding, I’m constantly thinking about the album that the couple is going to share with their family for generations. When I photograph seniors or families, I’m thinking about the large framed and matted wall print they are going to order – or the collection of gallery wraps. By having an understanding of what the clients are looking to purchase, you can be sure you’re photographing with that in mind.
This also helps me keep in check. It forces me to remember that it’s not just about me – but rather, it’s about the clients who have asked me to provide them with something meaningful. It helps me remember that a wedding isn’t a portfolio session, but rather an opportunity to document an incredible story – a story. It’s the story that people buy – not my portfolio.
2. Show what you want to sell.
We keep things pretty simple in our studio. When clients walk in, they see gorgeous large framed prints, canvas gallery wraps, and beautiful albums. What do you think most of our clients buy? They buy large prints, gallery wraps and big albums. Why? Because that’s what they see.
It’s really hard to sell someone something if they can’t see it, touch it, and experience. People want to gauge the way something will fit into their space – or their home – and that’s really hard to do if they don’t see it. If you find it hard to sell the products you want your clients to buy, it’s probably time to get some samples that you can show of at your next sales session.
3. Listen to what your client says.
By the time I photograph a wedding, I’ve probably talked to the couple at least a half dozen or so times. We’ve talked about them, their plans, what else is happening in their life, what they want, what they’re looking forward to, and more! Bottom line – I know their story. That allows me to tell the story appropriately, and authentically.
When a mom sits in my viewing room and talks about how she wants to take home a collection of images, I can position a product – probably an album – that meets that need. I’m going to offer her things based on what she says she wants – not just based on what I want to “sell.” Trust me, it’s far more easy to sell people the things they tell you they want.
4. Make it easy to say yes.
This is probably one of the most important rules of sales, and it works in a lot of different ways. When someone wants to buy an album, make it as easy as possible for them to select images, view their design, and place their order. Make it easy for them to pay for their order, and make it easy for them to understand the process. People say yes when they have peace of mind. Make it easy to find peace of mind!
When we meet with clients in our studio to view their album design, or to view a portrait session, we are constantly asking questions like “how do you feel about these images?” “how do these images fit with what you want?” “how do you see these images being shared in your home?” “how does this album do at telling your wedding story?” Every time your client says yes, it gets easier and easier. Asking them questions that affirm their feelings about the images they are purchasing makes it much easier for them to write a check.
Jason Aten is a Michigan based wedding photographer. After a career in marketing and sales management for a Fortune 100 company, Jason became relentlessly drawn to the ability to impact people’s lives through photography. So in 2001 he quit his job to start his own photography business. Jason applies his previous marketing and sales experience to his photography business and now takes the time to educate others with his “Starting Out Right” one-day intensives and resource guides. You can find more posts like this on the Starting Out Right blog.