4 Ways to Make More Money with Vanessa Joy
2017 was a year of change for the photography industry. I kept hearing photographers and videographers complaining about bookings being down for the year. The reason for that can be myriad, so we’re not going to delve into marketing methods or the state of the photography industry. That can be saved for the next “excusitis” pity party.
I’ve always said the best way to make more money is to work more with the clients you already have—the ones who love your work, trust your judgment and have already given you their business. It’s much less work than finding new clients. Sometimes just by offering more to existing clients, not even doing full-blown sales sessions, you can earn tons. It made me about $20,000 the first year I gave it a try.
Here are four ways you can make more money without spending any money at all.
1. Do After Sales
Just do them. No excuses. The first year I attempted this, I did nothing more than make some price lists and email them to my clients with a note saying, “You can add this stuff on if you want.” Boom—$20K in my bank account after the first year.
The best part about this isn’t even the money. It’s the fact that I’m now providing a full photography service to my clients. Without blatantly offering things like wall art, album upgrades, parent gifts and so on, you’re leaving your clients with empty spots on their walls or drugstore prints. Offer them everything they want. Don’t make them go it alone.
2. Increase Your Profit Margin
One of the scariest things for photographers is raising prices. I constantly tell people to raise their prices, especially when someone books their highest package. But did you know that you can make more money without raising your prices?
This requires a little bit of math and analysis. If you don’t already know your cost of sales and cost of business, check out the free tutorial at BreatheYourPassion.com/money. You’ll need to know both for this quick moneymaking exercise. Another good idea is to take a look at your expenses. It’s incredible how much money you spend that you don’t even realize you’re spending. I like to keep track of my books in 17Hats and QuickBooks Online.
Once you have your data, it’s fairly simple. Cut costs. I’m not telling you to cut quality, but find areas where you can stop hemorrhaging money for things you probably don’t need. Cutting costs allows you to make more money per job without the fear of raising your prices. As long as you do it in a way that doesn’t noticeably change your level of quality, it’ll probably be a good move for your bottom line.
3. Exclusive Products
Photographers have to compete with the widening number of photography products available to consumers. While you can preach until the cows come home about the differences between the canvases you provide and the ones they can snag with a Groupon, sometimes you just can’t sway them.
A sure way to overcome this is by having products that they can’t get anywhere else—things like deep matte paper, acrylic prints, metals and specialty frames that can be found only at professional printing labs like Miller’s. Feel free to embellish on the products as well. I like having my clients feel the deep matte paper and then tell them how it feels like their pictures are printed on rose petals. It’ll be hard for them to Google that one!
4. Make Them Fall in Love
If you’re photographing weddings, this is an easy one because your clients are love-minded already. Your job is to just transfer that to your products. This last tip is almost a no-brainer, but I see so many people not taking advantage of this simple idea.
Post your printed work. We create gorgeous displays. Canvases, albums, prints—whatever! When you get a product in, photograph it and post it on your social media. Make a blog post about your products. You can also put up a gallery of them on your website. I just snap a few shots with my iPhone half the time.
Displaying the types of things that clients can do with your photos helps them fall in love with them long before you ever get them in front of your camera. It shows off your work in new ways and helps them make the decision to book you.
I have a gallery dedicated to “Albums & Art” at www.vanessajoy.com. I direct new leads to it and mention it to my clients a few months before their wedding. By the time they come in for their album session, they’re fairly well educated on what I have to offer and usually have an item or two on their must-have list.
BONUS TIP: Don’t Stop After the Wedding
Reoffer products to your clients for their one-year anniversary. With my 17Hats workflow, I send out an automatic email to all of my brides on their anniversary, offering them a 25 percent off coupon to their online gallery just in case they still have some photos they want to print. It takes me no time at all, and they can take it or leave it—and I don’t feel pushy about it.
If you’re a studio that does repeat business, use this same methodology to encourage clients to come in to update their family photos, headshot or whatever type of photography they originally came in for. Or, two years after the wedding, you can do what I do and casually mention that you do maternity photos as well—whatever works for you to get them in your door again.
February can feel like a financial slump. These tips can bring up your bank account sooner than later, and have positive long-term effects.