It’s that time of year again: lab-shopping season. As the New Year rolls in, photographers focus on bettering their businesses and we know there’s nothing more exciting than delivering a beautiful print of a beautiful photo.*
You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. So if you’re a seasoned pro who already has a favorite, we may already be friends with them.
Four labs means a ton of amazing print options, more than 600 different products in total. But before you start sweating, here’s a quick rundown on each one to help you narrow down and pick the best fit for your photos.
No matter what, rest assured that you get a single, cohesive online presence and a full business solution when you’re at SmugMug.
Your work is in good hands.
Based just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, these guys have been a true powerhouse print lab fulfilling orders for some of the nation’s biggest event companies. But they’re more than just brawn — they put all that experience to work getting your print orders out the door quickly and economically, whether you buy one print or one thousand. EZ Prints is available to every single SmugMug user, and they fulfill all 4×8 and 5×7 photo card orders, to boot.
Our friends at Bay Photo enjoy the sun and fresh sea air each day in Santa Cruz, California. The positive effects are evident in the pride they take to their work, attention to detail, and the approach to customer service. Business and Portfolio SmugMuggers tell us that Bay Photo’s hand color correction, meticulously strong packaging and innovative product lineup are essential to the satisfaction of their clients. Plus, did you know that using Bay Photo also offers delicious Photo Extras like mats, frames, mounted prints and more, so you save a trip to the framers?
Last year we unveiled our first non-USA print lab, Loxley Colour. Situated in the outskirts of beautiful Glasgow, Scotland, they’re ready to fulfill all your highest-end print and display needs, right from your SmugMug gallery. They’re particularly popular with picky pros (and their picky customers) in the UK, but they’re happy to ship anywhere in Europe… and beyond.
White House Custom Colour
We started hearing that SmugMug Pros wanted even more print lab options, so we put our ears to the ground. White House Custom Colour won by being a crowd favorite and by passing our rigorous print quality test with flying colors. We felt confident that they met our (and your) incredibly high standards for beautiful prints each and every time. They hail from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and opened a second and third location in Dallas, Texas and Fresno, California, to bridge pros from all corners of the United States. They’re a family-grown business just like SmugMug, proving that we have a lot more in common than just a love for photography.
Three Quick Notes
1) EZ Prints is available at all SmugMug account levels.
2) Bay Photo, WHCC and Loxley Colour are only available if you have a Portfolio or a Business level account.
3) All labs ship their goodies everywhere on the planet. But for logistical reasons, you may choose to pick the lab that’s closest to you.
Here’s hoping that you fall lens-over-heels in love with your your perfect lab this year!
* We know that DPI really stands for “Delirious Pixel Infatuation.”
One of your top requests over the years has been, “Can I offer my customers mat and frames when they buy from my site?” Which spurred us to come up with today’s catalog-busting release, Photo Extras.
What are Photo Extras?
They’re à la carte upgrades available for prints you sell through Bay Photo. Your customers can choose them through an ‘Add Photo Extras’ button under each item in the shopping cart, before they check out.
What are the options?
There’s tons! Frames, mats, contemporary mounting options and even paper surface textures are all available with a few mouse clicks. And they can be purchased in lots of different combinations to create something truly unique.
- Mats. 3 professional picks: 1.5″ wide mats in White, Off-White and Black.
- Frames. 14 tasteful types: Flat wood, box wood or aluminum in a variety of colors. All served with clear, shatterproof acrylic.
- Mounting. 7 sturdy selections: 2mm Styrene, Bevel mount, Gatorfoam and 3/4″ Standouts.
- Finishes. 5 awesome alternatives: Pebble, Canvas and Linen surface textures, Satin Laminate and scratch-resistent Protective Coating.
*Note that not all options are available for all print sizes.
Swing by our general catalog page to get more info about each choice.
How do I use them? Do I have to?
Photo Extras are on by default for all Pricelists set to Bay Photo. Open up your Pricelists manager and create a new Pricelist with Bay Photo as the print lab. Be sure the “Allow Photo Extras” box is checked at the bottom of the page. That’s it!
If you’re already using a Pricelist that sells through Bay Photo, you’re already offering your customers the full array of goodies because it’s on by default. You don’t have to do a thing.
But you don’t have to offer Photo Extras if you don’t want to. Disable them by opening up your Bay Photo Pricelist and uncheck “Allow Photo Extras” at the bottom.
Can I set my own price for Photo Extras?
Right now, Photo Extras are only available at the default price, but you’ll still earn a profit on the print portion of the order.
We’re pretty sure some Pros will want to set a markup on each Photo Extra upgrade (just like the other goodies in your catalog), but don’t worry — it’s on our radar!
Are they covered by Coupons and Packages?
At this time, no. Photo Extras aren’t yet available for prints purchased in Packages, and Coupons apply just to the print portion of each order. We didn’t want you, the Pro, to end up covering the unexpected cost of a ginormous mat and frame. That wouldn’t be fair, would it? More about Coupons and Packages.
Your customers will love Photo Extras because they get it all in one step: Ready-to-hang, beautifully finished prints without a trip to the framing shop.
Which means you’ll sell more and make more money.
We hope that you’ll tell your clients about them, give them a try and share your feedback with us. Our ears are perked.
Want to sell more? Who doesn’t! Uploading your photos is a great first step, but there’s way more to business than that.
Today we’ll be sharing a few very simple ways to hook clients and get them buying prints, gifts, downloads and more. Best of all, these features are already built in to every SmugMug Pro account.
1. Custom domain.
You don’t need your own domain to share and sell, but it sure makes you look like a million bucks. But that price is deceiving: Most custom domains cost under $20 per year, which is way less than you make in an hour of shooting. And if that isn’t enough, you can usually get a custom email address wrapped up into the deal. A unified brand says you’re cool, polished and professional.
If a photographer builds a website and there’s no keywords around, does it get found? We’re sure you’ll be sharing your shiny new website on Facebook and forums, but go the extra mile to make sure search engines know you’re there, too. Adding photo-, gallery- and site-wide keywords will boost your Search Engine Optimization and help put you in touch with Google-savvy clients.
3. MOO Cards.
Put your name on the map with beautiful custom business cards by MOO.com. These guys love to print and it shows in their approach to getting you fun and friendly cards that are durable enough to hold up to your business. You can print a different image on each one and use them to share pre-gallery URLs or coupon codes at your event. And they even come in two handy sizes: Regular or attention-getting MiniCards.
Get it now: Find great deals on MOO on our ClubSmug page and get your beautiful pocket portfolio ready to go. Get started in your gallery’s Buy button, under “Business Cards.”
4. Print Samples.
Set the hook the first time you sit down with your client. Ordering your favorite images printed across different papers and formats doesn’t just get you up close and personal with our pro labs – it gets your customers excited about printing their own memories on something they can touch, feel and hang on the wall.
5. Thank You Print.
Your customer’s experience doesn’t end after clicking “Buy.” Stay in touch and keep them thinking of you by adding a 4×6 Thank You Print in the delivery box. You can customize it with any image or message you wish (like a coupon code towards their next purchase, *hint hint*) and we’ll pack it up and send it along.
Are you ready to bust out and start making more sales? Even if you’re already a seasoned SmugMug Pro, we hope these tips help you think up more creative ways to share your work and spread the word.
Now go get ‘em!
Links you’ll love:
Hellooooo, Europe. Loxley is finally here to serve SmugMug Pros who live across yonder seas. (Well, the Atlantic.)
Before we dig into the details, we just want to say a quick, heartfelt “Thank you!” to all of your European SmugMuggers who have waited so long for this sweet moment. Huzzah for the printer!
What’s so special about Loxley Colour?
Where should we start? Their unmatched reputation is the result of over 50 long years of incredible quality and service. They’re a family-driven company, which we dig. And like SmugMug, they’re completely and wholly focused on bringing the best products to photographers and their clients… no matter what. They know the business, and it’s their mission to continue to make sure that artists thrive doing what they love.
In other words, they rock. And we’re thrilled that they’ve said “Yes!” to becoming part of our family.
What products can I buy (or sell)?
Swing by their corner of our catalog and you’ll see the traditional glossy, lustre and metallic prints in the sizes that your clients already know and love. But you’ll also see some tasty new ways to showcase your images, like:
- Glacier Block. Crystal clear 30mm acrylic block creates a unique prism effect.
- Acrylic Window. Contemporary acrylic mount with 2″ frosted borders and corner standoffs.
- Alumini Print. Offers the most vibrant, luminous and waterproof option for your photos.
- Edge Print. Durable 1″ borders provides a polished, modern look without the need for a frame.
Juicy, right? And there’s more, so see it all in our Loxley catalog.
How do I start selling through Loxley?
Remember that due to the unique SKUs each lab offers, you can’t just switch labs on a Pricelist you’re already using. But it’ll only take a few minutes to set up and apply a new one, you’ll see!
What if I have VAT Exemption number?
Open up your Control Panel and click on the Settings tab, then click to edit your billing info. The last field at the bottom is where you enter that number.
How do I sell to both US and EU markets?
You already are! It’s true. You’ve always been able to sell and ship to anyone, anywhere in the world. And since we added the ability for customers to check out in one of 5 popular currencies, it’s gotten even easier.
Still, if you want to offer different labs to different customers, try setting up separate Pricelists for each lab that you use and apply them to your galleries or photos. You may want to point your US customers to a different gallery than the one from which your European clients buy.
Can I use Loxley if I have a Basic or Power account?
Not yet, but we do plan on including Loxley’s print services to all SmugMug accounts after we’ve confirmed our Pro integration is a smashing success.
Ready? Set? Sell!
We hope that you and your clients love the quality and innovation that Loxley Colour brings to the table. We can’t describe how sweet it is to finally bring you a lab in Europe, and one so highly sought-after, to boot.
As always, tell us how it’s going, how they’re doing and how it’s working for you.
Update March 27, 2012:
You spent all weekend at the local soccer match shooting thousands of photos. When you got home you made sure to download, edit and upload them all right away. Parents are expecting photos! So you immediately shared the link, anticipating a slew of gushing order emails. Finally you drift asleep, thinking about the hundreds of successful dollars you’ll see in the morning.
But you get nothing.
If this sounds familiar, today’s your lucky day. We’ll talk about four painful symptoms that may indicate that something’s seriously wrong with your business.
1) No Sales. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Did you forget to enable buying in your gallery? If you’re hearing crickets from the peanut gallery, this could be the case. When it’s off, your viewers have no way to add items to the shopping cart, even though they’re still able to browse photos. They probably think that you don’t intend to sell your photos at all.
HOW TO FIX IT: Visit your Gallery Settings and be sure that you’ve got Printing enabled. (It’s towards the bottom.) To be extra sure you did it right, take a minute to log out of SmugMug and browse your site like a customer.
2) No Download Sales: You Can’t Sell What You Give Away
Are clients emailing you every 5 minutes for their photos, but once you share them you don’t hear a peep? This could mean you’ve enabled your Originals. Don’t do this if you’re trying to make money! With Originals on, any visitor can easily download a full-res version of the image for free. It’s fab for friends and family. Bad for business.
HOW TO FIX IT: Open up your Gallery Settings and scroll down to “Security & Privacy.” Make sure any size other than Originals are selected there. You can go as small as Medium if you’re feeling saucy, but remember people won’t be able to enjoy screen-filling photo goodness that way – but our data shows going too small will harm your sales. X3Large + Watermarking (see #4) is probably your best bet.
3) No Profits on Print Sales
You’ve received an order, yay! But there’s no profit. Uh oh. This means you haven’t properly set up your pricing and clients are buying your photos at-cost. If you’re reading this post, chances are that’s not exactly what you had in mind.
HOW TO FIX IT: Hit up this tutorial that guides you on setting up your pricing using Pricelists. You can set the amount of profit you earn (recommended) or set your final price that’s shown in the cart. Not sure how much to charge? Just don’t go too low. Here’s why.
4) Surprise! Your Pics Pop Up on Facebook
You’re browsing social sites and to your dismay, you find your photos in your stream being shared by your clients without your credit… or your permission. How did they get there?
HOW TO FIX IT: Make your (water)mark! Look here to see how to turn your logo or name into a transparent image and slap it on your display copies. Any legally-purchased downloads or prints will be clean and clear unless you set a Printmark, too. While you’re at it, enable Right-Click Protection and use the Easy Customizer to type easy buying instructions into the custom pop-up message.
Now we hope that you’re better-prepared to take on the next few gigs and start setting your sales on fire. Stay tuned for even more tips, tricks and best practices to help you have your best year in the biz.
If you’re located in Europe, you’re going to want to sit down for this one:
- UK print lab, Loxley Colour, will be joining the SmugMug family of labs.
Print and Ship in Europe
We chose Loxley Colour for their impeccable quality, reputation and dedication to the professional photography industry.
We’re still hammering in the last few nails, but expect to start fulfilling your orders through Loxley Colour by March 23, 2012.
You know we never pre-announce features, but this one was just too good to keep mum. Our European Pros have been begging us for years for something closer, and you’ve all waited long enough!
Come See Us in Birmingham
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, come see us at Focus on Imaging this week. We’ll be at stand #C23, so drop by and show us your smiling faces.
Stay tuned for more details!
The response we got from Pricelists warmed the cockles of our heart: Pros were thrilled with the ease, beauty and power of being able to price huge swathes of galleries with just a few clicks.
However, there were a few of you who said there was just one more thing you wanted: to be able to set the final price, not just the profit.
And we aim to please.
How to Set Your Final Price
Our inimitable Sorcerers just released an improvement that lets you set your pricing by price OR by profit. It’s your choice.
Open up your Pricelists manager and take a look at the fields here:
You’ll see that you can easily enter a value for your profit and sleep well knowing that’s the amount you’ll make.
But now the price field is changeable, too. Type in a number and you can print up ads, flyers and whatever else you wish, knowing that’s the price your customers will see.
See the green? We highlight the “active” field when you save the Pricelist, so you know at a glance which one is being used.
Which method should I use?
You should set your profit if:
- You want guaranteed margins on every sale. In the event of currency or base cost fluctuations, you may earn more than you set… but never less. The price displayed to your customers may change as a result of this, but the rounding tool is there to help make those numbers pretty.
You should set your price if:
- You have printed materials that require your pricing to stay fixed. We’ll switch over to profit-based pricing if the base cost ever goes higher than your set price. We’ll just use the profit amount you had when you first saved the Pricelist.
So go and play with your prices and make lots of money. Happy selling!
We know that photo pros build strong relationships with their print labs, and we kept hearing that White House Custom Colour has been a popular choice for wedding and portrait photographers.
It’s true: they’ve been dedicated to the success of professional photographers since 1977, and have quite a reputation.
Today we get to announce that they’ve joined our family, giving Pros who already know and love WHCC another way to turn gorgeous photos into gorgeous prints.
Why the addition?
We know that busy pros are hard-pressed to switch away from the labs they’ve used for years, and WHCC has been one of them. You don’t have to switch away from EZ Prints or Bay Photo, but if you’ve been waiting to fulfill your SmugMug orders through WHCC, now you can.
It’s our mission to offer you a huge selection of fabulous, perfect print options. And have it seamlessly integrated with your site and shopping cart so you’re not a slave to your clients.
How do I order from WHCC?
Fire up your Pricelists manager and make a new Pricelist. You’ll see the three labs’ logos on the popup box. Click your choice, add in products, apply your Pricelist to galleries and you’re ready to go.
Do I have to use Pricelists?
Yes. We’re doing everything we can to make SmugMug everything that photographers have ever dreamed of… and more. We know it’s tough to change your routine, but we hope that the benefit of great features like additional print labs is worth the fear of leaving your comfort zone.
Try it. We’re sure you’ll love it!
Can I offer both WHCC and Bay Photo Products on my site?
Absolutely. We love them both and bet you will, too.
You can set different galleries to print through different labs. Just create a Pricelist for each. If you want to offer Bay Photo products for just a few specific photos, make a Pricelist for Bay Photo and apply it to only the images you want.
Can I see prints in-person?
Our bulletproof guarantee ensures that you can buy some prints and see their gorgeousness up close. And if you don’t adore them, tell us why and we’ll fix it or replace it right away.
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…
“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
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)
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
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: