As Mother’s Day approaches, we turn to those in our lives who have helped us become better at what we do, and those who inspire us.
Kelly Lester is the owner, creator, and creative mom behind EasyLunchboxes.com. During the past two decades she has been an actress, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three. EasyLunchboxes was born out of Kelly’s innate ability to do things efficiently while on a shoestring budget, and her desire to send her daughters to school with simple, healthy food with little to no extra packaging or ingredients. We loved seeing how she’s able to juggle her career, her business, and her family so very well.
Kelly shared the story behind Easy Lunchboxes with us, as well as some great tips on how SmugMug helped her grow Easy Lunchboxes into the successful business that it is today.
Read the full interview with Kelly and be sure to thank the people in your life who do so much for you each day!
You’re a photographer who’s oh-so-ready to make money. We hear ya. But if you’ve gotten every hair in place and you’ve still not seen that “Cha-Ching!” email, here are a few possible reasons why you’ve not been getting bites.
1. No Buy Button
Is it there? This is possibly one of the most dire but easiest flubs to fix. Maybe you disabled this or applied a Quick Setting that hid the Buy button from your galleries, but if you don’t switch it back on you’ll never sell a single print. So be sure to check your galleries and if it’s missing, enable printing in your Gallery Settings. Easy peasy!
2. No Pricing
We hate asking this, but… you DID set up your pro pricing, right? With Pricelists it’s really easy to set a pro markup on just the products you want, then apply that pricing to any or all galleries across your site. But if you forget to do this, you won’t make a dime.
Tip: If you don’t want to think about this ever again, check the “Make this my default pricelist” at the top right and we’ll automagically apply this pricelist to all current and new galleries on your site.
Also, are you charging enough? It may seem counter-intuitive, but we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your prices high and charging what you’re worth. In short: Don’t be cheap.
3. Nasty RCP Message
We’re all about protecting your photos and making sure that you have peace of mind when putting your best work on the web. But there are ways to use them, and then there are better ways to use them. We’re here to show you the latter.
Like your Right-Click Protection message: It’s there to foil right-clickers looking for an easy download, but most photographers just put a boilerplate copyright message, or a threat. Instead of slapping your customers, try to guide them to your Buy button for a profit-making purchase. You’ll look competent AND helpful all at the same time. Fix it under the “Photos” line in your Easy Customizer.
4. Originals On
So many SmugMug users use their galleries to share photos with friends and family. But as a Pro, being that generous may not be so good for business. Originals (and full-res downloads) are on by default, but it’s a quick fix to change this. Just remember to do it!
Open up your gallery settings and look for the Security & Privacy option. Set the radio button to anything smaller than Originals (like XLarge), and to check, log out and take a breeze through your galleries. You’ll always see a Save Photo option when you’re logged in as the owner, but you shouldn’t see it when you’re viewing your site as a guest.
5. Zero Marketing
Ah, the feeling of sweet success on the morning you unveil your website! But wait… did you share the link?
Like relationships, you’ve got to put a little effort in to get something back. So be sure to enter in your keywords, captions, meta description and meta keywords to be sure you get picked up in search engines. Also share the link to your site with friends, Facebook and anywhere else you go online. After all, you can’t make sales if nobody knows you exist.
6. Password Foibles
Many clients want their event galleries locked down with a viewing password, and, yeah, we understand privacy. But our Support Heroes hear from more people than we’d expect that get hit with this one. We hear from confused clients, curious pros who expected instant sales, but the culprit is usually that the password never got shared! So if you’ve just put the finishing touches on your latest wedding gallery and your inbox is a ghost town, think back to whether or not you’ve completed this vital step.
The lesson? Don’t forget to share your viewing passwords with the people that matter most. Since passwords are cAsE sEnSiTiVe we recommend copying and pasting what you type in your gallery settings right into your emails.
7. You Launched Yesterday
It’s possible to find overnight success on the web, but patience is still a virtue. You can plug in every keyword and meta description properly, shared with your Facebook fans and distributed your business cards to shops across town, but you’ll still have to wait to see the effect. It takes time for Google to do its work, and for tongues to wag.
So instead of stressing out, grab your camera, keep on shooting and work on honing your craft. Your soon-to-be clients will only love you more.
- How to create and apply Quick Settings
- Gallery Settings: Your key to almost everything
- What’s Visitor View and why do I care?
- Stop slapping your customers with a good Right-Click Protection message
- How easy is the Easy Customizer?
- Save Photos for site owners
- The Great Pricing Hoax
- The art of getting a link to share
- Warning! Sharing photos will make you lots of money
- SEO and SmugMug
- A privacy cheat sheet
- Publish to Facebook from your SmugMug galleries
- SEO made easy on SmugMug
Have you heard about our friends over at Two Bright Lights? They’re the company that wants to see photographers like you get published in magazines and make your resume grow. They’re like your own personal publicity agent, getting your photos right onto the editor’s desk. All you do is gather a few images and they’ll do all the heavy lifting for you.
If you’ve ever wanted to see your images across the spread but didn’t know how to get started, Two Bright Lights is perfect for you.
Who, What and When
You’ll get expert info about the wedding and publishing business from Shalyn Hockey, VP of Marketing and Strategy of Two Bright Lights, Jillian Clark of 100 Layer Cake and Summer Watkins of Grey Likes Weddings.
We’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to navigate the publishing industry, like:
- What NOT to do when submitting photos.
- What types of photos editors really want to see.
- Why being published is so important for your photography business.
- How SmugMug gets you in front of the right editors in just three clicks.
Ready to make your business boom? Just RSVP here and we’ll save you a seat.
See you there!
Missed the broadcast? Watch it anytime right here on YouTube.
The Realist: Making It Fun, Keeping It Real
Name: Monica Toohey-Krause
Name of Company: Studio KYK Photography
Location: Newcastle, California
Bragworthy Factoid: Used coupons for a special-occasion sale that generated $600 in past-shoot sales on a single day
SmugMugger since: 2006
- Transitioning from amateur school documentarian to owner of a brick-and-mortar business averaging 2-5 shoots/week
- Successfully using Facebook for 99% of her marketing
Studio KYK Photography is a thriving photography business just outside of Newcastle, California. Born out of a passion for photography that was reignited when Monica was asked to be school photographer for her daughter’s preschool, the studio has grown from a home-based business doing 10 or 15 shoots a year, to a brick and mortar studio, doing about three shoots per week. Monica’s specialty is capturing real moments with real people. “I love taking photos and don’t really care much what the subject is, as long as I am capturing a real moment,” she says. “In a month I may shoot anything from weddings to births, babies to seniors, headshots to everyday fun playing in the rain. My clients are real people who want natural, fun photos.“
Soup-to-nuts with SmugMug
Monica’s clients were looking for studio-quality prints of her beautiful photography, and it was during the search for a professional print lab that Monica found SmugMug. She was thrilled to learn that not only could SmugMug serve her print fulfillment needs through Bay Photo, but that it could be her complete website solution. SmugMug provided Studio KYK with a fully customizable and brandable website, an image archiving service, a shopping cart and centralized print fulfillment. SmugMug’s shopping cart handles all of the aspects of print order fulfillment, from payment collection to customer satisfaction.
Making it hers
Monica used SmugMug to help establish and grow her brand. She maximized SmugMug’s customizability, first working with a designer to develop her logo, later designing her SmugMug website to best represent her brand, whimsical attitude and individual style. Her SmugMug hub showcases her gorgeous photography and shows how much fun it will be to work with her. “I’m so proud of my site and having a place to call home,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am without you; I’d be scattered all over the place and wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”
Monica markets her business through word of mouth and social media; she was an early Facebook adopter. She uses SmugMug’s new Facebook album tool, which allows photographers to publish a selection of SmugMug gallery photos as a Facebook album. Those photos lead back to her SmugMug gallery and shopping cart, but behave like a Facebook album, complete with photo-tagging. Monica also uses SmugMug coupons, in conjunction with Facebook marketing, to hold studio specials, and to encourage clients to buy their prints. She holds spontaneous Open Studio Days, when a $25 deposit earns a $25 print credit to purchase prints from the session. She has held special occasion sales (e.g., Super Bowl) via a coupon for 30% off orders placed on that day.
Interested in seeing more SmugMug Success Stories? Look here!
HoofClix Gives Creative Ambition Full Rein
Name: Mark Lehner
Location: Greer, SC
Market: Equine photography
Bragworthy Factoid: HoofClix trotted out 606,705 SmugMug photo-views in February
- Shot 2,500 unique riders last year
- Takes 75,000 photos yearly; team shoots about 7,500/weekend
- Whoa! – 33,000 pictures in four days at Nationals
- Photographed the US, Canadian and British Olympic teams
- Snapped some of Three-day Eventing’s biggest names, including Philip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Becky Holder and Leslie Law
- Image display
- Publish to Facebook beta
- Proof delay
- Price lists
- Image protection and watermarks
- Branding and customizability (especially gallery hierarchies)
- Stats and traffic data
Bridling at the artist label
“I don’t consider myself an artist per se. I consider myself a technician and an athlete. I recognize athletic moments and know how to find the spot on the course where an athletic moment will take place,” says leading equine photographer Mark Lehner, whose work has been featured on the covers of Eventing and Practical Horseman. Lehner’s being modest—he’s a member of an exclusive group of equestrian pros who have the deep knowledge and creative instincts needed to capture vibrant, unique shots of horses and people in action. (To clarify: This involves facing huge animals with hooves.)
Spurred to shoot
Lehner, who started college intending to be an architect but was counseled out of the program after professors told him he had no “artistic” talent, segued into amateur photography after taking an undergrad course. With no formal program available, he evolved his hobby into a passion, later marrying it to his lifelong work with horses. Bequeathed a legendary family tack shop by his horsewoman mother and the father of equestrienne daughters himself, Lehner invested in several digital Nikons in 2003 after witnessing the labor-intensive nature of using film to photograph horse shows. Web-based HoofClix took off at a gallop.
Knowing Lehner’s habit of posting pics quickly following events, HoofClix’s customers frequently opt to review photos later offsite. “SmugMug’s gallery hierarchy really fits into the way I organize my shows by venue, show date and rider,” says Lehner. “If someone organizes his workflow in that manner from the start, equestrian or not, he can help his customers quickly find their images once they land on SmugMug.” Lehner makes the most of SmugMug’s website and gallery customizability. “It’s the simplest way I know to let people get right to what they are looking for–pictures of themselves,” he says. Other SmugMug features that help streamline Lehner’s business are proof delay and price lists. “[Proof delay] has changed my whole workflow. I used to edit every image before uploading, which caused delays. Now I upload only low-res batch-processed images, set each gallery to proof delay and correct only purchased images.” Lehner also likes the improved price lists: “Now I can create a new list and apply it to a gallery, and, in reverse, see which galleries have a pricelist assigned to them.” Calling SmugMug’s shopping cart for print sales “the simplest way there is to purchase,” Lehner says its design makes “intuitive sense,” all of which spares him time better spent shooting and managing higher-level business concerns.
Sharing the love
Lehner has used SmugMug’s Facebook publishing tool extensively. “I am really involved in social networking, so I enjoy [it]. It’s easy to use, and I already know that it’s brought people back to buy.” Typically, after he shares a SmugMug-hosted gallery via Facebook, he checks for a spike in traffic using Insights metrics. He likes that you can even place a “Buy” button in the Facebook image flows. “People are always in the mood to look at pictures,” he says. “This is a much friendlier way to get them to visit your site than a stream of nagging reminders to look at proofs.”
Reining in photo theft
In a time when copyright infringement is epidemic, Lehner contains it by limiting proofs to medium size and using a variety of elaborate watermarks for different situations, one with strong language detailing legalities and inviting witnesses to report theft if it is discovered somewhere other than Lehner’s site. He uses a different watermark to indicate that an image has been purchased for online use. SmugMug’s watermarking functionality gives him the range of options he needs. “In the digital age, the biggest challenge is a catch-22,” he says. “If you don’t put your photos online, they can’t purchase. If you do, people will use screen capture, upload them to Facebook and steal them. My online [watermark] and print mark are different, so I can see instantly if an image was bought in print form, for instance, then scanned without permission and uploaded to the Net.” Lehner, who spearheaded an industry effort to prevent theft, emphasizes the importance of features like right-click protection and watermarking. “SmugMug has done all it possibly can short of engineering a way for me to reach through the screen. I also do a lot of social networking to help find stolen images, reach out to coaches and trainers and try to educate new riders on how they should treat proofs.”
There’s no coy way to announce this, so we’ll just say it:
SmugMuggers can now offer pricing for prints, gifts and downloads in one of five international currencies.
That’s right! Your visitors now get to pick their own currency when they buy stuff from your site.
How does it work?
Run (don’t walk) to your galleries and click the Buy button to bring up the shopping cart. At the top you’ll see a fresh new drop-down menu that translates your pricing to the five following flavors:
- USD – $
- CAD – CA$
- AUD – AU$
- GBP – £
- EUR – €
You can click through each one to see pricing in the shopping cart change. We’ll remember the currency that’s chosen and display it consistently when you view our catalog, as well as throughout shopping and checkout.
I’m a Pro. Will I make less money when the exchange rate changes?
No, your profits are safe. We talked about this when we debuted Pricelists, and this is one reason why SmugMug’s custom pricing is centered around profits, not the final price.
Market crash? No prob… you’ll still earn that $100 on those MetalPrints (as long as you’ve priced them that way).
What currency will I get paid in?
We’ve been paying international SmugMug Pros in various currencies since last May. Look here to see how it works so you can get paid in whichever moolah you love best.
Anything else I should know?
Here’s the quick list:
- SmugMuggers of all account levels don’t have to do a thing to start showing the five currencies on your site. We do the conversion automatically for each and every visitor that buys from you.
- The price your customers see on your site will adjust along with the exchange rate. This could happen daily if the market’s feeling feisty.
- Pros: Your customers will see the currency they’ve chosen while shopping and during checkout, but for now you’ll still have to set your prices in USD. We’ll be adding currency support to features like Pro pricing, Coupons, Packages, etc., so please hang tight and we’ll tell you when those are ready.
Whoopee! Now, where can I sell?
In case you were just too shy to ask, you’ve always been able to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. We hope the new currencies will help your fans get a better idea of how much things cost.
What if I have an order problem?
We stand loud and proud on our 100% guarantee on all orders, and, as you know, we’ll refund you – or your customer – if we can’t make it right.
But if your sale doesn’t work out and it was purchased in a foreign currency, please remember the refund may not be the same dollar amount due to the exchange rate differences at the time of checkout and return.
Now, it’s your turn to grade us.
Questions? Comments? Feedback? You’ve asked for this feature for such a long time, we wanna know how we did.
This addition is just Part 1 of this year’s international goodies. We know that SmugMug Pros are dying to set prices in other currencies, too, so stay tuned! We’re building that next.