3 Ways to Keep Track of Contracts & Invoices Without Losing your Mind by The Photo Life

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You didn’t get into photography so that you could manage paperwork.

But between all the invoicing and contracts that you manage for your various shoots, it’s easy to feel like you spend a majority of your day managing those tedious details! So how do you keep your desk and brain clear of the clutter from this pile of paperwork? Here are three tips for streamlining your workload, so you can get out from behind your desk, and back behind the camera.

I. Put everything online.

Contracts and invoices can all be done through online systems or services, making it quick and easy for your client to sign and return things to you. Plus, down the road, it’s easy to find all the contracts and invoices under each client’s online folder!

II. Automate as much as possible.

Invoices should be sent out automatically online through your studio management software. If clients pay by credit card, you …

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4 Tips for Creating Blog Content that Generates Qualified Traffic by Elizabeth Villa Ippolito

4 Tips for Creating Blog Content that Generates Qualified Traffic

If you want to generate qualified leads, you’ve got to start driving qualified traffic to your website. After all, leads don’t just appear out of nowhere! (Although, that’d be nice.)

How do you generate qualified website traffic? You guessed it…by consistently publishing content on your blog!

To truly find success generating qualified traffic through blogging, it’s important to tailor content to your target market. This way, your blog articles are relevant, compelling AND come up in search engines when your target audience is searching.

1. Identify Specific Buyer Personas

The first step to creating content that generates qualified traffic is understanding what qualified means to you. What is the “right” traffic? Create buyer personas to help you identify the traits that the right visitors have that you want to attract.

As a photography business offering services to consumers, you must identify the specific person you want to sell to, as well as the people who are the decision-makers.

For example, you should know the age, general income, and biggest struggles for your ideal client. But you should also know the tastes, stylistic desires, and hobbies of the people you want to reach

They’re the ones who will be searching, reading and eventually engaging with you. When you know these details about your buyer personas, you can put yourself in their shoes – making it even easier to create compelling content for them.

2. Understand Pain Points

After you understand your buyer personas’ demographic information, dig deeper! To truly understand them, and create compelling content for them, you have to know their hopes and dreams, as well as what keeps them up at night.

Remember that knowing what information your audience wants is helpful when creating a content strategy, but knowing what information they need, desire and are desperate for is also vital.

Why? Because your prospective clients aren’t searching for information that’s “nice to have,” they’re searching for information that’s “need to have” and that solves a problem that is stressing them out!

This need for a solution is what’s going to compel your audience to take a few seconds to read your headline, and if that’s interesting enough, take a few more minutes of their valuable time to read your blog content.

When you solve problems for your prospective clients through content, whether they’re problems that keep them up at night or inconvenient bumps throughout their day, you form a relationship with them that keeps them coming back. Eventually, they’ll trust you enough as a problem-solver and resource that they’ll be willing to fill out a form with their information, and they’ll be open to receiving a phone call.

3. Pinpoint Relevant Search Terms

What are they searching for? Start pinpointing relevant search terms by plugging a list of at least 50 potential headlines (that are relevant to your buyer personas and solve their specific problems) into the awesome HubSpot Keyword Tool. There, you’ll see where your content currently ranks and how difficult it will be to rank on the first page. (If you’re not using HubSpot, you can go old school and search in Google.)

Prioritize content you create based on how difficult it will be to rank for the term on the first page of search engines. In HubSpot, that means prioritizing search terms with a difficulty rating of less than 50.

Now that you’ve done your homework, you can plug those terms into your editorial calendar and start creating content around those topics.

4. Pay Attention!

Different times of the year bring different opportunities and challenges for businesses in all industries. Pay attention to the way these “seasons” change the clients you serve.

For example, a professional wedding photographer might focus more on booking weddings during specific months of the year, shooting weddings during some months, and fulfilling photography orders during the following months.

It might fall on deaf ears for you to focus on solving problems for booking weddings during shooting season. Pay attention to the way your specific buyer personas respond during different seasons.

Just as seasons change, news also happens — technology gets updated, influencers make announcements, and events take place that affect the people you serve. Pay attention and stay relevant. Timely topics are golden and can’t be missed!

These are just four tips for creating compelling content that generates qualified leads. What are some of the methods you’ve found helpful for brainstorming and creating content that generates the “right” traffic?

Image by: Flickr user Alcino

About the Author:

Elizabeth Ippolito is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Plume & Post. Find more musings from Elizabeth on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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What are Professional Photographers Really Selling? by Kevin and Brittani Gardner

what-are-professional-photographers-really-selling

Let’s clear our minds for a minute.

Think about the things that influence us. Maybe it’s the lustrous elements from our daily routines that are full of inspiration and creativity? So many things sway our thoughts, right? Commercials convince us to call NOW and “GET ONE FREE!” The guy that dances on the corner with a $5 pizza sign beckons us to “come get the freshest, hottest pie in town!”

We see so many things in “lights” trying to sell us something – trying to get us to buy into something – but how many of those bright, sparkly things truly help us understand the products, services and benefits?

As photographers, we want clients to “buy in” to what we offer; everything from our brand’s luster to our products. When we offer photography services, people are excited about the photos. They view our blog, tag themselves, and share on social media. They right-click …

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Why Options Stink. by Jared Bauman

IN AND OUT

Options. We think we like them. We actually hate them.

There’s a hamburger chain out in my neck of the woods called In-N-Out. Many of you have probably heard of them, if not had a hamburger from there at one point. They have a bit of a cult following, with consistent lines out the door at all of their locations. They’re focused on fresh (never frozen) burgers that taste delicious.

To appeal to so many people, you’d think they’d have lots of options on their menu. Lots of people = lots of different wants and needs = lots of options. Wrong. In-N-Out has three options: a hamburger, a cheeseburger, and a double cheeseburger. That’s it.

I have a rant I do when I present on this topic, and it generally addresses an area where I see photographers offer WAY to many options: ALBUMS. Think about all of the CHOICES you give your client when …

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Make More Money with Event Cards

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If you’re an event photographer, there’s no better opportunity to reach your target market than at an actual event. No matter what kind of event it is — a wedding, mitzvah or birthday party — most of your client’s guests are potential NEW clients for you! Traditionally, client communities consist of similar socioeconomic classes and aesthetic preferences. So, the guests at that event this weekend are prime examples of your target market! And if your client liked you enough to hire you, then many of their guests might too. Don’t pass up an opportunity to market directly to them.

Spread the word at the event – use event cards! Not only will you give them a take-away with your contact information, but you’ll also give them the keys to access the photos from the event.

Many companies, like Pictage, provide turnkey solutions for event cards. Or you can make them yourself. Here are some key tips:

• Book a pre-shoot with your clients (engagement session, portrait session) so you can create an image that people will want to save. Use this image on your card (the goal is to have guests save the card on their refrigerator!) • Tell your client that you will be providing event cards as a “way to help guests find their photos without bother the bride and groom.” • Place the event cards in a prominent location, such as nearby the guest book or at place settings (ask your client first!) • Include your logo (keep it small and simple), contact info and instructions for how to access the event photo gallery. • Include a clear “call to action” on the card. If guests need to pre-register for an event, make that super clear on the card. You want it to be easy to see the photos.

When used consistently, event cards can significantly boost post-event print sales and get you new clients at the same time! For more creative ways to use event cards and marketing techniques at events, check out these helpful articles:

Why Shooting Hugs & Mugs Can Be Fun and Profitable

To Sell More, Think More Like Your Customer

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Harnessing The Power of Mobile Marketing With StickyAlbums by Wendy Roe

Ask yourself how many of your clients have smartphones, iPads or both?  Our answer was – A LOT! We’ve seen a steady increase in website traffic from mobile devices over the last two years and when I checked again today, it’s staggering that almost 20% of all our visitors were from mobile devices. That’s A LOT of people visiting us from mobile devices! Over 70% of them were on iPhones and iPads. So, that got my brain thinking about how our clients see and share their images digitally via mobile devices. As you’ll see in a personal story coming up, mobile albums improve word-of-mouth marketing like nothing else! Both of these experiences led me to seek out a company that specializes in mobile client albums – StickyAlbums.

What is StickyAlbums?

StickyAlbums let you create mobile photo albums – a branded mobile app – which your clients can save to their iPhones, iPads or other devices.  Moreover, once you set your default branding, such as the cute custom app icon clients see on their home screen, you can create an album in less than a minute for each client!

When you deliver a wedding album to your clients, wouldn’t it be awesome to pair it with their digital album so they can show their co-workers and friends? Clients talk about their wedding and portrait images when they’re still new, fresh and exciting. Their friends are always supportive and curious, but often, sharing just stops there. With StickyAlbums, clients can tell their friends about the experience and show them the results on a whim – on their phones!  It’s word-of-mouth marketing on steroids because you have images, in a branded platform, right at your client’s fingertips – ALL THE TIME.

Moreover, you control the app and can make updates and changes on the fly; the next time your client goes to the app, the updates will be seen –you always retain control of your branding. Once the images have gone through the initial quick download on your client’s phone, they won’t need to be connected to cell service to view them. They can view them anywhere, without having to wait to download each time!

Because it’s connected to your brand, there’s an easy way to call you, visit your website or connect with you on social media. It’s right on the app’s main screen with your client’s thumbnails.

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing On Steroids

So, here’s a true story that convinced me this was a powerful, money-making tool for our business. Recently, a client (who works in the photo industry) did a glamour boudoir session with me for a holiday gift for her hubby. She radiated beauty and we had such a fun experience with hair/makeup, wardrobe planning and the shoot. The images turned out fantastic and the in-studio premier was successful. Boudoir images get shared between female friends quickly, although most don’t want you to use their images online, so as soon as she went to work the next day she emailed me and begged me to put the ones she purchased online so she could share them with her friends. But to maintain the surprise for her hubby and to keep her privacy, she didn’t want them on our blog.

I thought, well, it’s now or never to try StickyAlbums! So I took the plunge and setup a pro account and uploaded her images to create her app.  Instantly she followed the simple steps and had it on her phone – the sharing began! Within a week, we had two new sessions scheduled and we have three more, “I’m going to do that next year for Valentine’s,” quotes from her friends. The first album paid for the app in a single day.

Ideas for Using the App

You can go crazy with ideas for this app and there’s lots of examples included in their tutorials and on a recent article from The Modern Tog on ways to use StickyAlbums for marketing. Our favorites include: setting up albums for wedding venues and other vendors to showcase your work.  Once we’ve shot at a venue again, we can easily update new images to their album and they don’t have to do anything! Secondly, you can include a referral image (coupon) in each of your client albums, so that when they share with friends, both parties see the coupon and both parties get a value add (we use a print credit for both sides). For weddings, it’s not just our clients who can download the app; family can also download it and have it on their phones to share with friends – think VIRAL.

How To Use StickyAlbums In The Sales Process

Like any add-on product, it needs to be listed in your a-la-carte menu and included in your top packages. We make it easy to get a StickyAlbum because we WANT our clients to be excited by it and showcase our images to their friends. Of course, we’re not giving it away for free, there’s a ton of value it in for your clients. And they want it.

Outside of including it in our mid and top wedding packages, for our portrait and boudoir clients, we use it to drive print sales. Every print they buy will have a corresponding digital image included in their mobile album. The more prints they buy, the more images go into their album!

Although there’s an argument that digital images (or albums) will take away from print sales…yada, yada…I totally disagree and feel that it’s a matter of setting yourself up for success. Yes, if you give the digital images away, I’m not sure if this app is for you, but for the majority of photographers who sell products as much as services, it’s a great add-on to your product menu.

Tips For Creating Albums

Here’s a few tidbits for making the process simple. First, create a default collection in your LR template that’s called ‘StickyAlbum’ and throw all the images the client buys, or the wedding album images, or layouts, in it for each client job. From there, use Sal Cincotta’s LR export preset to auto size the images on export.

In the beginning, plan on spending 30 minutes to one hour setting up your brand images and account settings (the ones that will be default for all your client apps). This way, you don’t have to change the branding settings for each album (you can, but it’s not efficient or necessary). Moreover, setup an email template (Sal includes one in his LR preset download that’s perfect) so that when the album is ready, you can use the template to send it out. These little tips help create a mobile album in a minute!

Happy mobile marketing everyone, I’d love to hear about your experiences too!

LEARN MORE:  STICKYALBUMS

About the Author

Wendy Roe has spent the last 10 years ingrained in all things web marketing – from design/development to search/social media. In May 2010, she decided to quit the corporate life and join forces with her husband, Byron Roe, to shoot full-time one of life’s ultimate highs – weddings. She now focuses on business development and being a second shooter for Bend, Oregon based wedding photographers, Byron Roe Photography.

She is the co-author of “55 Smart Web Ideas for Photographers” e-book, a 2-time speaker at WPPI Photographer’s Ignite and traveled through west coast PUG groups consulting photographers on web marketing. She’s known as an interpreter, changing technical language into easy information. Above all, she’s an educator at heart and believes: “Web marketing and wedding photography are two passions that drive bringing the best out of beauty and brands.”

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Splurging : Convincing Clients That You’re Worth It by Katelyn James

Why do we go to Starbucks when we could get the same coffee for $3 cheaper at 7Eleven? Some would say it’s because it’s BETTER coffee while others would argue that the coffee is the same, you’re just paying for the brand and the experience. It’s true, I feel sophisticated, modern and important in Starbucks and when I’m standing in line at 7Eleven, I’m just trying to get out of there as fast a possible!! We pay MORE for things that we value, things we feel connected to and things that give us warm fuzzy feelings inside. I don’t even drink coffee but I bought a Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks on the way home from a shoot last week just because it’s fall and that’s what you’re supposed to do in the fall!! Starbuck’s marketing is working. When I pay $5 for a tiny frap, I don’t feel like …

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3 Tips for Guiding Your Clients Through the Purchasing Process

Be a Shepherd, Not a Salesperson!

Now that you’ve carefully chosen holiday promotions that provide value to your clients and to your business, the sales process becomes less about convincing clients to purchase and more about guiding them toward products and services that are best for them. Your role is to help them make a decision – a decision that you know they won’t regret!

Here are three tips for guiding your clients through the purchasing process:

1. Keep it simple.

There’s a clear window of opportunity for holiday promotions, and any confusion that your clients feel will delay their decision-making during this short timeframe. Keeping the process simple empowers clients to make quick decisions, so make sure the ordering process is clear and easy. If there are too many steps involved in design decisions, image selection, or scheduling, your sales will be impacted negatively. As you evaluate your purchasing process, remove unnecessary steps …

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Price Objections: How to Deal by Matt Davis

Statements such as, “Your prices are out of my budget” and “It costs too much” are the number one reasons for stalled sales. Yep, I said stall, not obstruction or objection. How do most of us respond when we hear these things? We get angry or offended or, worst of all, we drop the price! If you go that route, it pretty much implies that you were charging too much to begin with. So not only are you left with a potential client who doesn’t trust you, you lost some of your profit margin.

But I digress.

Potential clients complain about prices all the time. Heck, we even do this from time to time as consumers. When you realize why you ask these same questions yourself, you can understand why you get them from your clients. As consumers, we want to be in control, but we also want to be nice. You …

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Show & Tell: How to Sell Boudoir Books by Kelly Segre

In-house sales work best with boudoir clients. But what does this mean? It means you have to find a way to show your client an album before they see their final prints.

Here are my tips and tricks for boosting book and album sales specifically for boudoir photographers!

1. Show and sell

Have particular products in mind for your boudoir clients? Great! Then, you must show them to sell them! When I shoot boudoir sessions, I have hair and make-up artists come to my studio, so clients see my books in front of them while they’re getting styled. They naturally want to look through the books. Initially, the client may be looking to see how other women have posed or what they’ve worn (or not worn!) in their sessions. But they always end up admiring the book! I have several sample books at my studio for my clients to experience. I only display books I want to sell and they range in price from as little as $150.00 to over $1500.00, so there is something for everyone!

2. Create a Clear à la carte System

While packages work well with weddings, the best way to boost boudoir product sales is to create  a clear à la carte system. In the past I offered packages that included books and a disk. But I discovered that clients consistently bought just the base package. Based on this experience, I revised my sales system. I start with one base package, which only covers the sitting fee, hair and make-up. All products are sold separately, including disks, retouching and books. By doing this I was also able to lower my initial fee and get more clients in the door. When I changed to an  à la carte system my profits increased dramatically!

3. Use the Disk as an Incentive

I only include the disk of edited images if the client buys a book. The best part about this? I rarely lose print sales because most non-professional photo labs will not print boudoir or “risqué” photographs! So my clients usually end up ordering prints through me! When clients realize that the price of a disk is equivalent to the price of a book – and is included with the book anyway – buying books seems like the most logical choice.

 4. Limit Retouching to a Specific Number

Immediately after each session my assistant sits down with the client and reviews the “untouched proofs.” Then, the client selects their favorite images using Lightroom. Initially my assistant advises the client not to worry about the number of favorites, because she will help them narrow down final selections after they decide which book they would like. In my base package I only include 10 retouched images. As the books increase in quality and size, the client receives more retouches. What happens? The client almost always selects more favorites than are included in the book. At this point, if they want more retouches they have to give up some of their favorite images, pay a per-image retouching fee, or buy a larger book.

5. Embrace In-House Sales Success!

Using these simple methods, and by keeping sales in-house, I’ve seen significant sales for my studio. By applying these small changes to my boudoir business, sales have increased so much that now approximately 90 percent of my clients buy books in addition to their base package!

Written by Kelly Segre

Kelly’s photography career started many years ago in her father’s darkroom. With a love for film and timeless, classic images, she strives to bring this style into every session she shoots.

By creating an environment that allows her clients to feel sexy and glamorous before ever stepping in front of her camera, Kelly is able to get the most out of each and every session. Using simple techniques and literally showing her clients how to pose, Kelly is able to set a fun, playful and sexy mood for her clients, turning a girls night out into a sexy boudoir session!

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