SmugMug Success Stories: Studio KYK

The Realist: Making It Fun, Keeping It Real

Name: Monica Toohey-Krause
Position/Title: Owner
Name of Company: Studio KYK Photography
Location: Newcastle, California
Market: Portrait/Lifestyle
Bragworthy Factoid: Used coupons for a special-occasion sale that generated $600 in past-shoot sales on a single day
SmugMugger since: 2006

Career Highlights…

  • 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

Fave Features…

Getting real

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.”

Marketing maven

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!

SmugMug Success Stories: Glossy Finish

Goooaaaalll! Glossy Finish Scores With Assists From SmugMug and Social Media

Name: Haim Ariav
Title: President & Founder
Company: Glossy Finish
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Market: Youth Sports
Bragworthy Factoid: Official swag-maker for the Florida High School Athletic Association
SmugMugger Since: 2011

Career Highlights…

  • Services 250,000-300,000 customers annually
  • Shoots 40,000-50,000 gorgeous images per event
  • 5 million+ images generated over last 5 years
  • Client list includes AAU, AYSO, Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, Pop Warner, Triple Crown Sports, United Soccer Leagues USSSA and ESPN Wide World of Sports

Favorite Features…

Born of a brain fart

Glossy Finish was born five years ago when Haim Ariav was suddenly inspired to build a mobile photo lab in a trailer and cart it to sporting events, enabling families to view, purchase and retrieve photos on-site. Ariav, a classically trained photographer, saw an unfilled niche: recognizing that, as a “want” industry, photography was taking a hit in a rough economy, he set out to re-brand memorializing athletic moments as a “need” by making it easier to enshrine kids’ sports glory. Redefining how images are delivered on-site is the foundation of Glossy’s business model, unique in the sports photography vertical.

The post-game show

But on-site sales aren’t Glossy’s sole revenue stream. After an event, Ariav’s team uploads its treasures to SmugMug’s cloud and follows through with additional distribution via SmugMug’s labs. Online sales, a significant supplement to Glossy’s revenue stream, run smoothly on SmugMug, along with back office functions. “We rely on the website for 100% of our revenues for events that don’t utilize the mobile lab,” Ariav says. “Using the SmugMug infrastructure, reliability and scalability are key for us. Having access to the various products offered by the labs is a huge opportunity for us to carry out our online strategy.” Ariav’s team uses online proofing to boost non-mobile sales. “Different events may not warrant the use of our patent-pending mobile lab,” he points out. “The success of those depends on customer satisfaction with images and ease of purchase. SmugMug allows us to deliver a successful experience.”

Scoring points with social media

Ariav endorsed SmugMug’s decision to allow digital downloads to have watermarks. “We felt it would facilitate our ability to brand ourselves on social media,” Ariav says. “We wanted to have a presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where so much photo sharing takes place. We know how important printmarks and watermarks are to both our business and our creativity.” Ariav milks every branding opportunity he can out of SmugMug’s tools, even while focused on image protection. “Printmarks turn images from just a photograph into a memory,” he says. “Our logo is also typically part of the printmark. Watermarks deter people from stealing, but we also use them as a way to show what [clients’] prints will look like with the printmark. We are always marketing and trying to keep up brand awareness.”

Owning it from field to check-out

Outlining a strong customization strategy for site design and gallery organization, and a reliance on SmugMug’s advanced customization tools, Glossy also has the Cart Branding feature firmly in the “on” position: “Branding is a huge part of what we do best, which can be seen in our website customization. We [use] Cart Branding so our customers know they’re getting a great Glossy Finish product. We also use the box sticker. We want customers to know who they are getting a package from and, most importantly, thank them for their order.”

Less work, more profit

Ariav used to blanket events with trigger-happy shutterbugs. Now, by sending sales teams to pre-sign customers, he may only capture four or five kids out of 20, but the average order has increased from $25 to $125. “It’s okay not to photograph every player on every field at every game,” he says. “We focus only on those that want and love our photos. It works better for the customer and us.” With SmugMug’s help, this focus on time-saving extends to online sales: “We try to keep pricing as uniform as we can to lessen confusion on our end,” Ariav says. “With the introduction of pricelists it is much easier to organize pricing throughout the site. Now I can set up pricelists for sales and simply move galleries around once the sale is over.”

Making friends with the moms

After cutting overhead and moving from the flea-market, on-spec approach to a more profitable, streamlined system scaffolded on a $20 deposit credited toward purchase, Ariav saw opportunities to reach a larger audience without snapping a photo. Envisioning his business as “an exclusive entertainment club,” Ariav created custom lanyards customers could don at soccer tournaments, showcasing that their kid’s athletic prowess was immortalized by Glossy Finish. The result? A flood of visitors to his trailer.

Taming the technology beast

Photographers didn’t used to discriminate when it came to capturing contacts; Glossy worked hard to collect home addresses and emails. Now, Ariav plays smarter, relying on texting select targets for marketing blasts. His on-site blitzes are wildly successful. “If we have a slow period, we can ping them and—boom!—the trailer fills up. We have a direct connection to our customers. And when we’re done with an event, we have more contacts in our database for future direct and instant marketing.”

Interested in seeing more SmugMug Success Stories? Look here and stay tuned for more as we have them.

New: Guest Uploading Lets Your Fans Join the Fun

You’ve always asked us if we had a way for your friends to upload lots of photos to your galleries without using a special Pro-only login. Someplace for your wedding and party guests to share all their crazy candids, funny faces and those micro-moments even Sherlock Holmes would miss.

You didn’t have a way to do that before. Now you do, whether you’ve got a Basic, Power or Pro account.

Here’s how it works.

How to create the most awesome pool of photos, ever

Step 1. Open up your gallery’s settings page and scroll down to Security & Privacy.

Step 2. Type a password into the “Upload Key” field. Note: Whatever you type here will be visible to your guest. (Just sayin’)

Step 3. Click the Save button at the top, then take a look at the “Upload Key” field again. We’ve baked your password into a special link like this:

Alternatively, you can fire up that gallery’s uploader and see the “Guest Upload” link at the bottom:

Step 4. Copy and share the link! Anyone who hits it will be taken straight to a special version of our web uploader where they can drag and drop files into your gallery… and only that gallery.

Stuff you should know

  • If your gallery has a viewing password, your guest can still upload photos to it with your special link. However, they will need to enter the viewing password before they can browse the gallery.
  • Anyone who has your link can upload files to the gallery, so be aware when you share. If you’re concerned about it getting into the wrong hands, you can give your guests a deadline, then delete or change the Upload Key after that date.
  • Want captions? Have your guests fill out the caption field of their photo files before they upload. When it’s in the gallery, their text will automatically show up under the image. They can easily do this in programs like Picasa, iPhoto and Windows Photo Gallery.

There’s never too many cooks in the kitchen when fun photos are involved. So gather your friends, give it a try and let us know how you’re using it.

We’d love to hear your feedback so we can make this feature as awesome as humanly possible.

5 Marketing Tips You Never Suspected Could Double Your Business

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.

Get it now: Snag your own URL on and get set up in 15 minutes. Questions? Talk to our heroes!

2. Keywords.

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.

Get it now: Start tweaking your keywords using your gallery Tools menu. And check out our full list of SEO tips for maximum marketability.

3. MOO Cards.

Put your name on the map with beautiful custom business cards by 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.

Get it now: Check out our catalog and go nuts. It’s worth it. And if you’re not happy with them, tell us! We stand by our guarantee.

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.

Get it now: Design your image file and upload it to the Pros section of your Control Panel. Read all about Order Branding.

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: