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The Myth of “My Photography Pricing Has to Be Low…”

The Myth of Your Prices Have to Be Low“Everyone else in my area is priced so low, so I have to be priced low too.”

I see this time and time again, people lamenting about the other photographers in their town who offer $50 portrait sessions with all of the digital files included, and how on EARTH are they ever going to compete with that if they set their photography pricing any higher?!?

Easily.

You are not those photographers. Their business is not your business. You don’t know what else they have going on that allows them to charge such a low rate. They may not be making a profit at all. But you? You get to design the business YOU want to create! (Remember?)

Just because everyone in your area has low rates, doesn’t mean you have to. That is probably just the perception you have after seeing several people with low rates. Those photographers normally either end up building volume studio businesses or not surviving in business long at all. Some of them are hobbyists making a bit on the side with a full time job.

Personally? I don’t want to take any of those routes. I’ve never wanted a volume studio. It makes me exhausted thinking of doing 100 sessions a month. Someone told me at Imaging this year that they do 25 sessions a week and I wanted to cry. Not my thing at all. I also don’t want to have to take up a full time job so that I can afford to keep doing photography. Perfectly valid choice if you want to do it. I’d rather make a profit doing what I love, and only that.

There are likely other people in your area who are charging a lot more. Or the people in your area could be driving to other cities to hire more expensive photographers.

If everyone in your area is charging $50 for a session, you’ve got a great advantage if you charge more, because PRICE is perceived as being of higher value!

Target carries some nice, large purses. I’ve owned several of them over the years. Normally priced at $30 – $40, they do the job. They are large and roomy, tote my things around, and fall apart by the end of the season. I don’t expect much out of them because they were inexpensive. If they last two months? Well, I probably abused the heck out of them and got my money’s worth.

Kate Spade carries lovely, large purses. Leather, durable, handles that are comfortable for me to carry. Easily in the $300 – $400 range, they not only do a job, but they say something about me when I carry them. As a brand, they make a statement. I probably like things that are a little quirky, bright, colorful. I like classic pieces that are timeless and versatile and I can use year after year. Since they are leather, I can easily clean them. As long as I condition them, they will last.

There is room for both of these purses in my closet.

What if Kate Spade told herself, “I can never possibly charge $400 for a purse! I mean, Target sells perfectly good bags for $40?!”

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

You get to set the prices for your brand. You should know exactly what you need to make to turn a profit and to not burn yourself out. To build a business that allows you to be happy in what you are doing. This isn’t just a job, this is your LIFE. Make it what you want it to be.

Because I promise you, there are people in your area who are spending money on luxury items. Look at the large TV on their wall, the numerous game systems that they have bought for their kids (or themselves), the iPhone they have in their pocket, possibly with an iPad or other tablet device in their bag not 3 feet away, the designer clothes they are wearing, the brand of purse on their arm, and the luxury vehicle that they drive.

They will be glad that someone is out there that is more expensive, because they want nice things, and if it cost more, that is yet another differentiator that tells them that YOU are valuable to them.

What you don’t get to do is tell me how you simply can’t charge rates that allow you to be profitable because no one in your area will pay them. I don’t believe you.

* Of course, all of this requires you to take some decent photographs, and to do the leg work to build a brand. It isn’t impossible. It isn’t rocket science even. But it does take a bit of determination. I believe in you. You can do it! I’ll be talking more about resources that can help over the coming weeks — including Fight Club — the July 2013 Fight Club in Denver has ONE SPOT left, and I’ll be there as one of the coaches, helping the Fighters along their journey! Sign up for that last spot!

There is Nothing Like Crisp, Cool, White Sheets in the Summertime

As much as I love Houston, I’m still not a fan of the heat. The long summer days can just be so hot and sticky. Muggy. Any thoughts of working outside make me simply start to melt.

It is these days that I long for the crisp, cool, white sheets on my bed. Gone are the heavy sheets of winter, the blankets meant to keep me warm in our 1920 Bungalow. The windows are a bit drafty in our house. This time of year, I put the thin white sheets on my bed. Cool and inviting at the end of a long day.

The white sheets for me mean that summer is here, and it is time to embrace all the beauty that summer brings!

The white sheet. So pure and simple, it makes you look incredible. This is why so many of my clients choose to include it as an outfit in their Hot Mama session. It got me thinking — it is time to once again do a White Sheet Session special. You, me, the camera, and the white sheet. Who is in? I’ve got 10 spots available for the month of June, and another 10 spots for the month of August. (Weekdays only.) What a perfect gift for your wedding anniversary or an upcoming birthday!

Not in Houston? I’ll be in Austin, Portland, Seattle, Chicago (speaking at BlogHer on photography!), New Orleans and Denver this summer. Contact me, let me know what city you are interested in, and we can get it all set up!

The White Sheet Session Details

- These sessions feature the White Sheet. No other outfit changes are included. (I’d suggest nude underwear for under the white sheet if you would like.)
- It is a 45 minute session at my studio in the Heights. Weekdays only. Sessions are available as early as 8am or as late as 6pm.
- Makeup is not included, but can be added for $100 if you would like. (Makeup is included in all of my regular sessions.)
- Albums, gift prints, wall art are all available a la carte and selected at your ordering session.
- Very Special White Sheet Session price: $150

One of the best things about these sessions is that you don’t have to go spend any money on lingerie to wear; I provide it all with the white sheet! That makes it a really outstanding deal!

Contact me and we will get your session all set up! I simply can’t wait to work with you!

Details on longer sessions with more outfit changes and makeup included is available on my pricing page.

Preveal Sale & Giveaway!

Preveal App for Photographers

Now that we have talked about how I handle In-Person Sales Sessions, the timing could not be better to share with you that the Preveal app is on sale! Purchase it between now & May 24, 2013 and receive $25 off of the normal price.

Preveal brings the power of showing your clients their images on their walls to your iPad. With easy step-by-step instructions, your clients gather photographs of the places in their home that they would like wall art (or you go to their home and take the photos for them), and you can then show your clients exactly how the photographs will look in their home. You can show them a variety of wall gallery collections as well as showing them how single large outwork pieces will look. Ever had that client that wondered if an 8×10 print would look great over their fireplace? Now you can show them that it is too small, and what size will be more appropriate.

To go along with Preveal, make sure you get a copy of DesignAglow’s free guide for clients to photograph their home for the wall displays. The educational guide “teaches your clients how to take a well composed, properly scaled image of their home’s future wall gallery location.”

Not only is the app on sale, but Preveal is hosting a giveaway as well! You can enter to win a chance at over $1000 in prizes, including a chance to win a mentoring session with me! To enter, visit the Preveal blog and follow the instructions for the contest.

The goodies that are up in the contest that you could win?

Visit the Preveal blog to enter and win! But hurry, before the contest ends on May 24th! And don’t forget to pick up your copy of the Preveal App while it is on sale!

The Magic of In Person Sales Sessions


The Magic of In Person Sales SessionsWe’ve talked about why we should get over our fears and do In Person Sales, and I’ve shared how I prepare my work for In Person Sales Sessions. Whether you show your clients 30 images or 130 images, fully edited or hardly adjusted at all, the next steps are both the easiest and the hardest part – the In Person Sales Session!

This part really is magical to me. After years of being afraid of it, I am still amazed at how much happier my clients are when I work with them to select the perfect images for their needs.

To be Clear, You’re Only Selling What they WANT to Buy

Your clients came to you to take photographs. Their ultimate goal is to have a great experience working with you, and to have those photographs when it is all said and done.

In the end, you’re not selling anything. You are helping them to purchase exactly what they want. They walked in the door wanting these photographs. Now we have to get you over the hurdle of letting them purchase them.

Educating Your Client

When I switched to In Person Sales, I expected people to push back on the idea. They don’t, and that really surprised. I convinced myself for years that no one wanted to take more time to go through their photos with me, and that they might even be uncomfortable because they are boudoir images. Silly, isn’t it? Since I’m the one that took the photos?

The reality is that they are working with you, the expert, for a complete experience. They value your opinion & advice when it comes to their photographs. It makes perfect sense that they want your help with them!

Most of my clients thank me afterwards for doing this with them in person, helping them out with their selections. They all express how much easier it is for them. I wish I could go back in time and do it for all of my clients!

I make a point to talk from the time that they book about the consult that we are going to have after their session. I mention it again the day of their session. We set it up for 1-2 weeks after the session, but I have done them as soon as two hours after the session for who are in town for their session. As long as you tell them in advance that this is how you do it, most clients will gladly meet you to view the photographs in person. (Note, I said most. Not all. There are a few who want to view them online. I don’t allow it though, as per my privacy policy of not posting anything online.)

Where Do the In Person Sales Sessions Take Place

I have a studio space, so my appointments almost always take place there. If you do not have a studio, you could meet at a coffee shop, a wine bar, or at the same hotel where your client did their session. Your home or theirs. Select a location that fits your brand and style. Choose a place where you won’t get distracted or interrupted. If you use a computer for your sessions, try to find somewhere where you can sit in a corner, avoiding any prying eyes.

Who Should Come to the In Person Sales Session

I’ve started suggesting to my clients that if this is a gift for their spouse, they may want to bring them to the viewing session to unveil the photographs. So far, no one has taken me up on that offer in the past year; almost all of my clients have done gift sessions. I still think it is a great idea – that way, she can choose her favorite photos, and he can select his favorite photos as well. Maybe even make two albums instead of one – one for each of them!

How Should You Present the Photographs

I display my photographs for my clients on my 13″ Apple MacBook Air Laptop. I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 to go through the images with them. Another option would be to use 4×6 Proof Prints. Both work well as a way to sort them, organize them, select your favorites. The biggest thing is to have a system.

My In Person Sales Sessions

  • I greet my client, offer her something to drink, and we catch up. We sit side-by-side on the couch in my studio space.
  • I show her the Animoto slideshow I have made. It normally is about 3-4 minutes long, and I choose a peppy, upbeat song to go with it. I put 60-70 images in mine, so they aren’t displayed for long. Just enough to give her a taste. This seems to calm the nervous energy over seeing the photos for the first time.
  • Now it is time to dive in! I explain the process first, so she will know what to expect. We are going to go through the final images one time, rating the images with one star if she likes it. Quick and easy, go with her gut instinct. If there is hesitation, I still keep it. Ready, set, go!
  • We go through all images and give the ones she likes a 1 star rating. Quick, quick. Just a yes or no. If she shows interest in liking a particular image a lot, I give it 2 stars.
  • Once we have narrowed them down, I sort by the star rating and let her know how many images she chose. It is at this point I hand her my pricelist again. We talk about what albums I offer, which style & size she likes the best. State a price for things, and then stop talking. This used to be my biggest weakness. If I sensed any pause from them, I wanted to start knocking the price down to make the sale. No, no, no! Just … stop. Here is the price. If your client is silent, they may just be thinking. “Hmm, if I don’t buy that purse I was thinking about getting, I can upgrade to the larger album that I like more.” This may look to you like she doesn’t want to buy it and you’ll start rambling and before you know it you took $200 off the price and now maybe she will buy it and this is so stressful because what if she hates all the photos UGH! See? Don’t go there. Here is the price. Stop talking. Unless she asks questions, then answer those.
  • She has the pricelist, she has the sample albums, she knows how many photos from the session she likes — now it is time for me to ask her what she would like to do with her photos. An album or a book? Wall art? Gift prints? Digital files? Once I know this, we can move on to the next step.
  • Now we need to narrow down the images. I use the Grid mode in Lightroom (the Library screen) to do this. We pull out obvious duplicates or photos that are similar to each other, looking at the images using Lightrooms Compare function.
  • Once we get to the final images for the album selection, I then note which images she wants for prints, and if she wants to add the digital files.
  • I do the math on the total and take her payment. Most pay for it in full there; some ask for payment plans, which I do offer. I do not order or deliver products until I have been paid in full.
  • That is My Process, What is Yours?

    Everyone does this a little differently, and we can all learn from each other. This is the process that I go through. What is yours?

    Coming up, I’ll be talking more about other apps you can use to help your sales process. For now, Lightroom and a computer? All that you need. This is easy. You can do it!

    Photo Credit: linh.ngan via Creative Commons License

Photography is the Science

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