Archive

Posts Tagged ‘business’

The Encyclopedia of the Watermark

May 13, 2013 19 comments

Alright, photographers. Since SmugMug started offering a non-destructive watermarking feature it’s been a favorite of lots of you, and it certainly has been one of ours. But our Support Heroes get questions about the nitty-gritty details all the time, so let’s dig deep and show those of you who haven’t tried it yet how much it rocks.

Watermarked wrinkly dog with glasses

What’s a Watermark?

Watermarks are custom graphics or text that SmugMug Pros can apply to their photos. They appear on all the photos that appear in your SmugMug galleries. Your original uploaded files won’t contain them, which means that all downloads, print or gift items that clients purchased from your galleries will remain clean and pristine.

Who Can Use Watermarks?

At SmugMug, Portfolio and Business account holders can use Watermarks. If you have a Basic or a Power User account you can use programs (like Lightroom) to apply watermarks to your photos before uploading to SmugMug, but if you do this just remember that this means your original photo file will be marked and anything purchased from your site will contain them.

Why Use Watermarks?

Watermarks are awesome for keeping your name and brand associated with the photos you take. Especially if you sell your photos for profit, using this feature ensures that people pay you for your images.

Watermarks and image protection gallery settings

Plus, once you set them up in your Gallery Settings (shown above), we’ll automatically apply them to new photos as you upload, so you don’t even have to think about it.

Tip: When you Watermark, why not consider letting your fans use your display copies for free? They get to share the low-res files with their friends, which means free advertising for you.

You can add watermarks to your images prior to uploading to SmugMug (through Lightroom or other image editors) but that watermark becomes a part of the original file that we print from. If you do this we, recommend that you disable printing in your galleries. By using the SmugMug Watermark tool, the custom watermark is applied to your display copies only after upload, leaving your originals in pristine condition.

Finally, you can have as many different Watermarks as you wish on file in your SmugMug account. We just recommend that you don’t keep too many, or the list can start to get confusing.

Where to Find Your Watermarks

Your SmugMug Account Settings

Look in your Account Settings > Business tab. The first section there, Branding, will contain several important pro features, including Watermarks. This is your home base where you can manage, edit or delete any Watermarks you’ve uploaded to your site.

Tip: To change or remove the watermarks on your photos, you’ll go to your gallery’s Tools button. We’ll cover this in a minute.

How to Create and Apply Your Custom Watermark

Create transparent png file in Photoshop

First, you’ll create a special file using your favorite image editing program, like Photoshop. We suggest starting with a transparent file about 1000 x 2000 pixels in size (you can always crop it down or change this later), adding in any text that you wish and/or using your logo. When in doubt, start with a large canvas so that your finished watermark looks good on our full range of display sizes.

Tip: Given that your Watermark will be sitting over colorful images, you may want to keep the font color a simple opaque white, but it’s up to you.

Save your file as a transparent PNG file and upload it to an unlisted gallery on your site. Then click the gallery Tools button > This Photo > Make into Watermark. We’ll then let you set up the opacity, placement and other settings for that Watermark. Don’t forget to give it a unique name!

Tip: If you plan on using several watermarks, or if you’re experimenting with different ones, you may want to be specific and call out placement and the font, like “Center Helvetica for portraits” or “Bottom right logo 2013.” Being tidy is just a good idea, anyway.

We have a comprehensive step-by-step tutorial showing you how to make a sample Watermark file on our help pages. And we have a fabulous video tutorial, too, where you can see watermarks in action.

How to Change or Remove Your Watermarks

First, create and upload your new Watermark to your site, then set it up as aWatermark with a new, unique name. Once that’s done, you can go to any gallery on your site and open the Tools button > Many Photos > Watermarking.

Change or remove watermarks

You’ll see a new screen with thumbnails of every image in that gallery. Click to select one, a few, or all of them so that they’re highlighted in red, pick the new Watermark name from the menu bar at the top and click “Watermark.”

If you want to remove watermarks from your photos completely, it’s the same deal. Only choose the “Remove” radio button at the top. Again, click the “Watermark” button to save your changes.

Note that it can take a few minutes before you see the changes on your photos, so it’s a great time to put the kettle on or stretch your legs.

How to Fit Both Landscape and Portrait Images

We get this question from time to time, but it’s a bit tricky. After all, your camera’s sensor and how you crop your images can drastically affect the aspect ratio of your final image, which changes the placement of your Watermark.

If you want your Watermark to look good on both portrait and landscape-oriented images, here’s a suggestion: Go square! This doesn’t mean that the visible Watermark has to be square, only the image file that you’re using. So try creating a square transparent PNG, center your watermark text and make sure you keep it centered when you set it up in SmugMug.

Another alternative is to make a corner edge Watermark. Simply align your Watermark’s text along the bottom and one side of your image file and when setting it up in SmugMug, choose one of the Bottom left or Bottom right placement options.

Option 3: You can always tile your Watermark so that your design is repeated uniformly across the image. (See below for example)

And finally, if you’re really picky about perfect Watermarks on all your images, you may want to create and set up two versions of your design: one for landscape photos and one for portraits. Note that you can only set your Gallery Settings to automatically apply one Watermark, but you can manually apply the second one to only the photos you want to switch.

Watermarks vs Printmarks: What’s the Diff?

These two features are cousins. The thing to remember is that Watermarks are applied to the photos displayed on your website. Printmarks are like watermarks for your prints, and only appear on products that you and your customers buy.

Set Printmarks up just like you set up your Watermarks! The only thing to keep in mind is that Printmarks, unlike Watermarks, are limited in the size and area of the photo so they stay unobtrusive. Check the preview if you’re unsure.

Tip: Great ideas for Printmarks include the event date, your handwritten signature, team name, graduation year. What else can you dream up?

When They Work Great and When They Won’t

Watermarks go a long way towards preventing image theft by right-clickers and screen-grabbers, plus they’re great for spreading the word about you… but not everyone loves them. Some people find anything extra on the image distracting, and large Watermarks can sometimes cover up vital parts of the photo.

Unobtrusive Watermarks close to the edge or in corners can be cropped out, and of course there’s always the chance (however slight) that someone with lots of time and Photoshop experience can remove it.

Finally, Watermarks can be applied to photos only, so they won’t work on your video files. For security on your videos, and for better image protection all-around, we recommend using Right-Click Protection as well.

Great Watermarks We’ve Known

For your inspiration, here’s a few examples of various watermarks we’ve found along the way. You may want to try these  yourself!

Corner:


Photo by Schmootography

Center logo:


Photo by Brian Rice Photography


Photo by Creative Focus Portrait Photography

Banner style:


Photo by Barnet Photography


Photo by Barn Door Studio


Photo by Meghan MacAskill Photography

Strike:


Photo by Trick The Light Studio

Tiled:

Photo by MJR Photography

Let’s Get You Started!

Are you ready to dive in? We’ve already pre-loaded a generic “PROOF” watermark into your website that you can use right away, but here’s a few basic watermarks you can snag to change it up.

Grab PNG files for square, portrait, landscape and banner watermarks

We hope that these questions hit all the points you may have been wondering about this powerful feature. If we missed one and you still need help, give our Heroes a shout!

Categories: business, Images

How to Stay In Business by Varina Patel

April 8, 2013 10 comments

Landscape photographer and pro educator Varina Patel is one of those people we all aspire to be. From the mountains to the deserts, she travels around the globe chasing the light and enlightening photographers near and far. We’ve long been inspired by her incredibly varied and inspiring blog posts, eBooks and workshops, as well as her ability to keep her photo education company running smoothly and in sync with her husband, Jay PatelWe talked with Varina about how to keep your photo business blooming year after year.  Here’s what she suggests.

By Varina Patel

Take your business seriously.

Jay and I may be a husband and wife team – but we are running a business together. It’s so easy to lose sight of the goal in the face of the day-to-day requirements of running a business… especially when you have lots of other responsibilities that require your attention. In order to keep things running smoothly, we have monthly meetings where we discuss our plans for the upcoming month. We decide which projects are worth extra time, and which ones need to be scaled back. We look at our sales and financial data and decide where we should focus our efforts. We make sure we are working towards the same goals – and that we are never working at cross-purposes.

Don’t be afraid to change your plans.

Of course, having a solid business plan is important… but plans should be fluid. Don’t be afraid to change your plans as your business opportunities shift. Jay and I are constantly re-establishing priorities as we navigate the ever-changing world of photography. Stock photography was a productive business for us at one time – but as the market became more and more saturated, we found that our efforts weren’t paying off as well as they had been. So, we tested new waters. We taught workshops, wrote eBooks, photographed events, submitted images to magazines… and as our business grew, we found out where we could make the most of our limited time. Right now, our focus is on eBooks and short workshops – and as times change, we will continue to refine our goals and shift our plans to meet the ever-changing needs of our business.

Know your own strengths – and your weaknesses.

I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s important to know what you are good at – but knowing your weaknesses is equally important. Heck – maybe it’s even more important. When you are aware of a weakness, you need to focus your attention on it. Nobody said running a business is easy. If you aren’t good at handling your finances, do some research, take a class, or hire someone to do it for you. If you want to write eBooks but your grammar and spelling is terrible – hire an editor. Need a good website, but you don’t know a thing about design or ecommerce? Call on the SmugMug Support Super Heroes. ;) Ignoring the problem isn’t a solution… and it can cause all kinds of headaches in the future.

Use social media to build a relationship with your clients.

Social networks are incredible marketing tool that offer small businesses like ours an opportunity to be noticed among corporate giants with enormous budgets. We don’t have to spend a dime to connect with millions of people who are interested in what we are offering. Our foray into social media began with our blog. I spent more than a year writing regular blog posts before people really started to pay attention. There were lots of times when I thought maybe my efforts were wasted, but I knew that quitting was the surest way to fail… so I kept plugging along. Over time, more and more people began to comment and subscribe. During that time, I started posting on Facebook too. Pretty soon, I had a pretty solid collection of “fans” who would leave comments and share my photographs. When Google+ came along, I didn’t hesitate. This was a whole new experience. Suddenly, photographers were having in-depth discussions about everything from composition to marketing – and people were adding us to their circles at a fantastic rate. Best of all, we were really getting to know some of these people! They were becoming our friends. They were recommending our work to others, signing up for our workshops and webinars, and buying our eBooks! We met some of them in person, went shooting with them, and got to know them on a personal level. Those experiences took social networking beyond marketing. Now, we are a part of a dynamic community of photographers who exchange ideas and inspiration.

Look for ways to minimize content creation and maximize content consumption.

So yes. Social media is a great tool. But it can be your downfall, too. Don’t let it consume you! The trick is to find ways to minimize the amount of time you spend creating content for social media – while maximizing the consumption of that content. What does that mean?

Well – we only have a limited amount of time to spend writing blog posts, updating our websites, posting on Twitter or Facebook or Google+. And yet – we want to be sure that the content we create is seen by as many people as possible, right? So, if I write one blog post, I want to make sure everyone knows it’s out there. I need to get it to my followers on Facebook, my fans on Google+, my subscribers on Twitter – in short, I need to make sure it’s as visible as possible.

Right now, we create almost all of our new content on my blog or on Google+. Content from the blog on my website is automatically syndicated to Jay’s website and our other social media platforms. (Ideally, a single source of content would be preferable… but Google+ doesn’t provide means for automatic syndication yet. In order to share with our very large audience on Google+, we need to manually share a link or copy and paste content to our streams.) Automatic syndication lets us send out our content to twitter, facebook, and our RSS subscribers without an additional effort on our part. So we create the content once, and everyone knows it’s there. The process takes discipline and forethought – but you can make social networks work for you.

Know your target audience.

Take some time to decide who your customers are. Are you selling prints to art collectors? Writing eBooks for budding photographers? Teaching beginners to use their cameras? Look at your strengths, determine what you want to be doing – and then decide who you are targeting. Jay and I know that our primary audience is other photographers – people who want to learn how to use their camera. So, we target our posts to appeal to those people. We include brief tips in every blog posts. We speak in a variety of forums – sharing knowledge with large groups of people so they can get to know us and our teaching styles… and share our names with their friends. And we are always looking for ways to reach out to the photographic community – even this article is part of that effort.

Make sure you are valuable to your customers.

Maybe this is obvious, but it’s absolutely critical. If you purchase one of my eBooks, I want you to come back and purchase another, right? And the only way you are going to do that is if you really feel that the eBook was valuable to you. So, we work hard to make sure that we pack those books full of information. We regularly go back and review older books to make them better, and we are constantly looking for more knowledge so we can share it with others. Workshops are no different. We want our students to go home feeling like they are better photographers than they were before they arrived… and more importantly, we want them to be confident in their ability to repeat the techniques we’ve taught. As nice as it is to come away from a workshop with some amazing photographs – what we really want to do is teach people to take amazing photographs when they are on their own and we’re not around to help out. So, figure out what your customers want, and work to make sure that you are providing that. Doing so will translate to more clients, more sales, and more word-of-mouth advertising.

Act like a professional.

I think too many photographers forget how important it is to present themselves as professionals. I’m not talking about business suits and corporate accounts. It’s really not that difficult. Start with a well-designed website that works well. Design a simple logo and print up some business cards. Respond to emails and queries in a professional manner – it’s ok to be casual, but don’t be sloppy or rude! And perhaps most importantly, present only your very best work! Don’t just stick photos up there to fill gallery space. It’s better to have a small collection of really great shots than a huge collection of mediocre ones.

Learn More about Photography from Jay and Varina Patel

If you’re looking for more inspiration, photography tips, education and webinar workshops, visit Jay and Varina’s blog over at Photography by Varina. And use this exclusive discount code to get 10% off any eBook order over $20: SMUGMUG314

Happy learning!

Categories: business

Webinar Alert! Quadruple Your Wedding Reach in Half the Time

March 11, 2013 2 comments

Wedding shooters: How exhausting is it to stay on top of your marketing plan? You always have to stay a step ahead and hunt for new clients while making your current ones happy. With thousands of photos to edit, you don’t have a lot of time to curate your photos, organize them in sets and send them out to magazine and blog editors.

And let’s not even talk about figuring out the best ways to harness the most powerful tool of them all: Facebook.

So why don’t you join us while we talk about it?

Same Day Edits: A Wedding Workflow Webinar with Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams

Pro wedding photographer Vanessa Joy and wedding videographer Rob Adams will share what they know (and answer your questions) about achieving the holy grail of all pro photographers: To take the right pictures, effectively market your work, and deliver the photos to your clients in record-breaking time. Win/win/win.

Here are the deets:

March 26, 2013 – 8:00 PM ET
Duration: 1.5 hours
Register HERE at GoToMeeting

Vanessa will show you how to use SmugMug, SnapKnot and other tools get your SEO maximized blog post, online gallery preview, photo slideshow, 2nd photographer photos, Facebook marketing and blog/magazine publication submissions all done on the night of the wedding, and all while wowing your clients and their guests with a same-day-slideshow and same-day-album.

You won’t want to miss this 1.5-hour webinar that will drastically improve your workflow, marketing, social media and client satisfaction.

Bonus Workshop in Los Angeles

Want to learn a full day’s worth of info about this topic? Check out their upcoming workshop, “Beyond the Same Day Edit,” on April 14th, 2013. Get the details about it on creativeLIVE and enroll for free.

Here’s to kicking off the most successful wedding season, yet!

UPDATE! In case you missed it, we’ve saved the webinar so you can watch it any time on SmugMug’s YouTube channel.

All photos by Vanessa Joy Photography

The Business of Love: Getting Intimate with Je Revele Fine Art Photography

January 15, 2013 2 comments

We’re so excited to debut this guest post from the two lovely and incredibly talented ladies over at Je Revele Fine Art Photography, who we featured as a Success Story last summer. Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, pros fill their wedding calendars and winter engagements blossom into summer nuptials. So with the “Business of Love,” we’ll feature insights and tips related to planning, shooting and selling those beautiful photos you’ll take in the coming weeks. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look into what goes into crafting the stunning images you see at New Jersey boudoir photographers Je Revele!

Insights from Natalie Licini and Cate Scaglione

When Cate and I joined forces, it was based on a love and a shared vision for Intimate Portraiture. From the beginning, we had a common passion about the kind of work and client experience we wanted to create for our clients, which we believe has been the foundation of our success.

Our business is a fusion between photography, a luxury spa, and an art gallery. We make more than beautiful portraits. Our clients cherish the wall art we make for them… but beyond that, they remember the experience of the day, how they connected with Cate or I and how our stylists made them feel. Ultimately, their memory is about feeling beautiful and special. That translates very powerfully into the portraits we create for them.

Cate and I have different personalities and approaches when it comes to working with clients. We sometimes find that one of us may be more compatible with a certain type of shoot or client, but the one constant is the final product our clients receive. Our end-to-end client experience is something we both take part in, regardless of which of us photographed the client. Cate often handles pre-consultations whereas I often execute the sale. We both handle editing and post-production. Our common ground is in our aesthetics, editing style and a mutually unwavering commitment to the quality of our product and studio experience.

The Value of the Pre-Consultation

Our process always starts with a pre-consultation, which is a critical component to the shoot and its subsequent sale. We believe this first step is a major component to our success. Our clients are surprisingly open during our pre-consultations, which enables us to know them on a highly emotional level, upfront. We like to hear what the client is envisioning and learn who they are to plan the session of their dreams. The pre-consultation serves a two-way purpose; we get to know them intimately beforehand to effectively plan a shoot and they get excited about it. Both of these factors lead to higher sales.

As a result of our pre-consultations, we’ve found ourselves planning era-inspired sessions of the 1920s, 30s, 40s, or 1980s. Some sessions are based on specific milestones, like one client’s 50th birthday where we planned a “past present and future” theme incorporating various themes of her life. Other clients find art as a healing mechanism, to recover from the death of a loved one, a double mastectomy or to regain confidence after a divorce or breakup. And yet other times, our sessions are to mark a celebration, such as remission from breast cancer, bachelorette parties or a special anniversary. On one occasion, we even held a Ladies Day of Glamour, a fashion-inspired day where we served lunch, champagne and a private chef who prepared a special dinner on the terrace of the castle in between their individual photo shoots and styling sessions.

No matter what type of session, their day with us is about comfort, convenience and luxury. We furnish them with everything they need to relish in their beauty, which includes in-house stylists, delicious hors deurves, chocolates, champagne, an in-house wardrobe to peruse, or our concierge-approach to designer gown rentals. We often find that the more we do to create a great experience, the more engaged they become with their images.

The pre-consultation is truly step one of putting clients at ease for the shoot. They feel they have a pre-established connection with us and they know what to expect. In addition, we put ourselves at ease through a consistent routine of scheduling, either as a 10AM or 1PM session appointment daily. We don’t waiver much and clients are OK with that.

Fluidity and Confidence During the Shoot

On the day of the shoot, women can initially feel nervous, shy or self-conscious… or all of the above. Cate often jokes that there is a “nine minute factor” in which clients find the joy and liberation of the session, a point at which the nervous excitement goes away. After those first nine minutes, we feel them come to life. We always give them authentic feedback and compliments early in the session. We do our best to make them comfortable, happy and show them a sneak peak of an early photo to build confidence in themselves. We don’t always show them the images, but sometimes we find that it enables clients to let go and embrace the experience. This approach can often be reassuring.

We hear a lot of consistent comments from women, regardless of her age, body type or overall appearance. One of the most common phrases is: “I’m not not photogenic at all”, almost as a warning. We often say: “Have you ever had your photo professionally taken? {often the answer is no} Many of your photos may be taken by friends and family under challenging lighting conditions so you may think you’re not photogenic. But beautiful light and proper direction by a professional photographer can definitely make you look your very best. If you’re photographed in darker light some clients feel they look wider or older. Let me show you a posing example”.

At this point, it’s a great example to show them how I’d look straight on flat-footed. I’d look wider, static… almost bored. With some adjustments, bending my knee, pushing my weight on my back hip in beautiful light and suddenly, I look thinner and prettier. The clients instantly feel more confident!

The pre-consultation is always a guide to how we pose our clients. The direction will vary depending on the styling and theme of the session. Our intimate portrait work may include high fashion photos, fine art nudes, boudoir or all of the 3 in one session. I feel the best approach is to pose my clients from the feet up, posing them standing, seated, leaning or laying and guide them so they look and feel beautiful, slim and elegant. The wrong pose can instantly add 10 pounds to any client. We do our best to ensure the opposite is true with every photo. The last step is to ensure they look relaxed and their hands are relaxed. Little adjustments with hands and encouragement can make your client shine brightly from the inside and you see that in their eyes.

For our intimate portrait work, we shoot both indoor and outdoor at our studio. Our studio has over seven acres of picturesque grounds at the castle, with brick and stone, old classic architecture, thick woods, beautiful gardens and trees, etc. We shoot indoors using both natural light and strobes. We love variety, but we photograph our clients truly in accordance with the pre-consultation we planned. At all times, both Cate and I each shoot with our own two cameras. Cate uses her two Canon 5D IIs using a 85mm and a 24-70 or a 70-200, depending on the session. Cate likes fluidity and tries to incorporate with a single new idea each shoot. I always photograph my clients with my Canon 5D Mark III with my 85mm 1.2 on the right of my rapid double strap and my Canon 24-70 II on my left. We love both perspectives for intimacy and storytelling. The dual-camera approach is important to the flow of the session because changing lenses causes delays, which breaks your clients’ enthusiasm. It’s important to keep a rhythm and energy going… for all parties involved in the shoot!

Exquisite Marketing

One thing we noticed was that clients booked us because they are attracted to our fine art work and they wanted to hang a piece of art in their home. We’re always excited to do what we love, but from a business perspective it was limiting. Cate always tended to shoot intimate close-ups for her fine art. I liked to shoot wide for maximum storytelling. So we made adjustments on both our parts and begun offering a variety of posed beauty portraits, creating the variety and “bigger picture” story for our clients. This enabled us to sell both wall art and albums or image boxes with each sales session, doubling our revenue instantly. It changed and reshaped our business.

This past summer, we created a marketing plan which cross-promoted with venues, stylists and clients. We offered gift vouchers enclosed in a gorgeous black box with thick white satin ribbon. Targeting our class-A clients and vendors was a great way to attract our ideal clients for intimate portrait sessions.

Pricing is an important part of the brand. Our brand is about a premium experience and making woman feel special and important. We are priced accordingly and our brand look and feel helps us communicate that idea. One can never underestimate the importance of being well branded and well priced for your target audience. You attract what you put out there in the market.

Working Together as a Team

There are two of us in our studio and naturally, we work a little differently than one another. However we maintain a very structured workflow for the consistency of the client deliverable and final product.

First, we download our images from our cameras and with Photo Mechanic do a “sort by capture time” and rename the RAW files. Then, there is a culling process in Photo Mechanic which we reduce the gallery selections to 75-100 images. We then import everything into Lightroom 4.

Cate and I process images a little differently, but generally maintain the same aesthetic with our custom-created presets and actions Cate made from our most inspired looks. I label about 40% of the images in LR using the star rating, which I make black and white. I use the same style black and white throughout for consistent styling and branding. I take the remaining 60% and edit them with a desaturated vintage color. I don’t cherry-pick which images are black and white, I randomly choose. Cate really enjoys the editing process and tends to like to look at each image individually and decide with each image what should be presented in color or black and white. Our editing aesthetic can vary a little from session to session depending based on the styling and theme (example: 1930s era), but in general there is about a 40/60 rule for bw/color (unless we know from our pre-consultation a client has a penchant for a style). No matter what, we always try to ensure that our post-processing maintains that signature Je Revele look.

We typically decide before the sales session which portraits would have the best potential as a fine art wall portrait. Rarely do we edit any fine art work before the viewing appointment. Instead, we show several beautiful fine art portrait samples to clients during the viewing appointment. This explains what their portraits could potentially look like and it usually illustrates the idea quite well.

From the beginning of our Je Revele adventure, we decided that our Intimate Portraits were about creating intimacy with the client and helping them see their beauty. It was never about the wardrobe like lingerie or boudoir-style setting to define our genre. In this sense, our Intimate Portraits are very much the same vertical as our other portrait work. With this philosophy in mind, we price our Intimate Portraits the same as our other portrait sessions including families and high school seniors. Our newborn photography structure and weddings have a different pricing structure, however to accommodate the very specific needs of those life stages.

At the end of it all, we simply want our clients to look and feel their most beautiful self. That’s incredibly important to us… we feel it’s what differentiates us. We listen to their needs and understand why they are doing the session… and we deliver according to that. That’s intimacy.

All photos by Je Revele Fine Art Photography

Categories: Art, business, Site design, Users

The Great Pricing Hoax

February 15, 2012 41 comments

No sales? Hard time hooking clients? Your deep-discount pricing could be choking your reputation.

It’s not uncommon to offer your services at cut-rate discount with the hope that you’ll snap up eager bargain-hunters. But is this really the right approach?

Successful Pros agree that raising your pricing may not necessarily scare away potential clients – in fact, it’ll do a body good. Here’s why.

That sounds backwards…

Photo by Adriana Klas Photography

“Cheap” sets bad expectations for your clients. If you’re a cheap photographer, clients wonder how you’re cutting costs so much, and if it’s worth it for them to take the risk. They question your ability to manage expectations and communicate with them. Will you effectively guide them through an important experience, or will you simply fire a few snaps, hand over a CD and call it a day?

“Cheap” makes you look as though you don’t think you’re any good. Any business owner who doesn’t think their brand’s the best is probably in the wrong business.

How to Not Be Expensive

Photo by Adriana Klas Photography

Right about now you’re probably worried about scaring away clients by being too expensive. How do your clients really know what “expensive” really is? It’s all about pricing and a concept called anchoring – meaning that they have to compare the value of something new with something familiar.

In English: Clients will be able to better grasp the value of your work by judging their interaction with you.

Here are some tips to help you prove that your work is worth every penny:

  • Create a unified brand.  A clean website. Clearly placed information. A custom domain and email address goes a long way, too.
  • Be professional. Be prompt, cordial, and friendly. You provide a quality service, which is worth paying for.
  • Look and act the part. No one is going to pay $5k to a schlup wearing ketchup-stained t-shirts, particularly if they show up late and forget to bring the paperwork!

How to do the “Free” Thing (the right way)

Photo by Sphynge Photography

Just because you should be paid fairly for your work doesn’t mean you can’t cut clients a break, or even do the “free” thing once in a while. Samples are a great way to give clients a nibble of what you do do without giving away the whole farm. Some quick ideas of how to work this into your model:

Model 1 - Waive your session fee, but be sure to charge for prints and digital downloads.

Model 2 - Apply the sitting fee towards the purchase of digital downloads, making the first (X number) free.

On SmugMug, it’s so easy to offer a few deep discounts by creating a custom Coupon to hand out. There are five different types, making sure that you can keep changing it up and keeping it interesting. How to use Coupons.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Calculate Your Costs to Avoid Going Broke

Photo by Sphynge Photography

The reason most photography businesses don’t survive is because their owners didn’t properly calculate their costs. And as the old adage goes, time is money. Don’t forget that your time and expertise are more precious than replaceable objects like paper and gear; you can hire assistants but they aren’t you. (Yes, it’s our mission to make you feel like a million bucks!)

Here are our suggested guidelines for calculating your costs:

  • For prints: Your pricing should be not less than 4x your hard costs, including packaging and shipping. Seem like a lot? It’s not – about half of your balance goes towards taxes, 1/5th of goes towards the base cost of the item and the rest goes towards (ta-daa!) your profit.
  • Albums and multi-photo goods: Your pricing should be no less than 3x your hard costs, which may include design work as well as the physical cost of the product.
  • For Downloads: Price your larger-than-web-sized digital downloads at no less than the cost of ten prints. Giving away images at any printable size means you have to make it worth your while: They will use that file to print lots of prints, and you also run the risk of having your brand diluted if your client opens Photoshop and makes their own digital adjustments. Check out our resolution chart to find out how big they can print.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to charge a fair price for your work. By understanding your costs and charging more, you’re sending a stronger message to your clients and ensuring that they value you, too.

If you’re already in business and think your prices needs a kick, remember that it’s simple to adjust your pricing using Pricelists. Look here to see how they work, and don’t forget to ping our Support Heroes if you get stuck.

Wanna keep talking about pricing? Never forget that our photo forum, Digital Grin, has a whole section dedicated to the art of turning your photos into money. Check out our Mind Your Own Business section here and post away. Or just voice your thoughts in a comment below.

Good luck and stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more tips and “best practices” for you, soon.

—-

Links you’ll love:

Categories: business, Sales
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,608 other followers

%d bloggers like this: