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How Your Creative Products Can Help Set You Apart

I remember when I first started offering Canvas Gallery Wraps in my first year of business.  I could never see myself as a client purchasing an $800 canvas print, it sounded so expensive.  I really wanted to sell them to my clients instead of the traditional photo print because I loved the way my work looked on the beautiful canvas! But I questioned if clients would actually pay that much for a picture.

I also loved to design and sell coffee table books to my portrait clients.  The books took me a long time to design.  I realized I wasn’t making very much money for the hours I was putting in.  I wasn’t serving my business well by not charging enough for my work. But I just couldn’t see selling a book for $500.

There’s a huge temptation to run your photography business in fear.  Fear that you may never make a sale; fear that your client will secretly think you’re way too expensive; fear that you might go broke.  These are all valid fears. But a thriving business can’t exist in fear!  We should stop self-reflecting and begin running our businesses. I wish someone would have set me straight my first year of business.  We do this to make a living. Yes, we do this because we love it, but it’s important that we not exhaust ourselves running a business that’s not very profitable. People have hobbies because they love what they do.  People run businesses to make a living and to hopefully do well with it.

With all of that said, here are some thoughts on how we best use our products.


1.  Packaging counts. How you present your work is what sets you apart from your clients’ SLR capabilities.

Prior to viewing and ordering, your client may not see your work and what they can do at home as all that much different.  I mean you and I know your work is very different, but they assume that they can almost do just as good and can save some money in the long run.  So to justify your professional pricing you must present your work in a creative, professional way that automatically sets you apart.  Everything you give them – from your business card, to your pricing sheet, to how you package their order will testify to your value.

2. Be creative. When you take advantage of the unique wholesale products that are offered to us as photographers you seize the opportunity to sell yourself as a specialized artist.

What will make your $30, traditional, 5×7 print look reasonable and affordable is your $225 16×20, ¾ inch standout print.  When you showcase, emphasize, and accentuate your unique enlargements, design books, and other creative products, you are essentially helping to define yourself as an artist and not a JC Penny, or worse just another person who owns an SLR.

3.  Go big. Your clients are trained to think that 4×6 and 5×7 prints are the only real print options that should go in their home. Why? Because this is all that they can really accomplish on their own.

When they come to you and see that you not only offer small print sizes but you gear your business towards large prints, and specialized products, you have them thinking big. Thinking big means more profit for you. You help them to see the possibilities of their photos.

4. Free advertising. Your products can be a great advertisement.

When you offer creatively designed cards, whether it be for Christmas Cards, Birth Announcements, or Save The Dates, not only can you display your best work, but you can include your website on the back of these cards.  This will act as free advertisement for your business.


We love the idea of offering these different products, but the most important thing is how you price them.  Remember: this is what sets you apart so charge what the products are worth, not what you think you would pay.  No fear, remember?!

Special print products generally take more time.  For me it takes longer to be sure that the image will wrap just right around the canvas frame.  It takes me a long time to edit and design a coffee table book.  I can’t just place the order like I would for the simple traditional prints. Not to mention the changes clients tend to make to custom designed products.

And last, if you’re going to offer a single product that includes more than one photo consider the idea that they’re getting a lot out of one product.  Price accordingly.

For example: Our custom-designed coffee table books are a popular product that we offer. Because of the design time involved and the number of photos received in one product, we charge significantly for the book.  Our coffee table books are not available for purchase unless a certain order amount has been reached.  This way our clients can’t order all the photos they wanted and more in just one product. Why purchase a 20×24 Canvas print if I have all the photos I want in a pretty book?

So remember, when running your business you’re the boss. Don’t let intimidation stop you from trying out new products, and don’t let fear drive your pricing.  You decide what you’re worth.  You are an artist – set apart from any other person with a camera – so create and be creative.  Utilize the creative pre-designed templates available to us as photographers to help save time, and take your photos to the next level.  We currently offer templates on our Art Is website at www.art-isdesign.com.

Written by Heather Essian of Heather Essian Portrait Arts

Heather is passionate about helping others discover their unique gifting and giving them the encouragement to pursue what they love!  Creativity is simply a part of Heather and always has been. From her days sketching while in grade school, to her first darkroom photography class in college she’s known all along that her longing was to create.  Her love of people and relationships is what has drawn her to photography.

Heather and her husband, Jim, currently run their photography business out of a gorgeous boutique style studio in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. The creative products she offers takes her boutique photography studio to a unique level in a highly competitive market.

Join Heather at Pictage U Atlanta, Family & Kids. A two day intensive conference focusing on the world of family and kids portrait photography taught by professional photographers who own successful family and kids portrait photography businesses, like Heather.

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!