5 Ways to Make an Extra $2K Per Client with Makayla Jade
As a wedding photographer with a young family, my weekends are sacred to me. I always knew I never wanted to be “high volume,” but of course I wanted to make as much as possible per client to scale my business. Over the years I’ve learned a number of ways you can increase your client accounts while receiving raving reviews and not giving up more weekends! Hint: if your clients are spending more with you, it doesn’t mean they’re unhappy clients. The experience and value you provide just needs to match the price.
1. 1:1 Ordering Appointments, Virtual or In Person Sales
Even if you don’t have a studio or a place to meet with your clients in person, meeting “virtually” 1:1 after each photographic experience is a great way to help guide your clients through the image selection process, show them all the product offerings, and ease them through the decision making process. While just sending out a gallery may seem convenient and easy, it can lead to the client becoming overwhelmed by options and pushing off making any decision. Most consumers don’t know the difference between lustre or deep matte, and they aren’t familiar with what frame sizes would work well above a couch or an accent wall. This is where our guidance can be of service to them. It’s also easy for people to be more self conscious or worried about the way they look in the photos when they are viewing them by themselves behind a computer screen. By helping the client 1:1, you can answer any questions they have, be a resource for them, boost their confidence, and get them excited about their photos and all the ways they can showcase them.
2. Engagement Session Sales
If you’re charging a flat fee for your engagement session and just sending out the digitals afterwards, you’re missing out on a lot of additional revenue. I used to charge $950 for an engagement session with the digital downloads. I figured this made sense for a few hours of my time plus an editing subscription. Not every couple would add it on, but maybe 15 or so each year, which meant roughly an additional $14,250 in revenue. What I realized, however, was the couples I did engagement sessions with I felt more connected to, comfortable with, and was more excited for their wedding day when the time came. I wanted to do more engagement sessions but I didn’t want to decrease the price. I decided I would just build the session into my base collection as a “complimentary” add on, meaning everyone got it. Because it was complimentary they could remove it, but wouldn’t get any money off the collection price. I also explained that the pre-session planning, photographic time, and 1:1 ordering appointment was included, but any prints or digitals from the session would have to be purchased separately. By building effective print collections and pricing my digitals appropriately, my average post-engagement session sale was around $2,600 that year (engagement album, wall art, prints for parents, save the dates, digital downloads). $2,600 x 30 couples = $78,000 in additional revenue just from engagement sales. By including the engagement session for free, it made it a no brainer for every couple to do it. From there, I was able to build trust and credibility plus hype them up about prints and albums and all the things they could do with their engagement photos, so by the time we did our 1:1 ordering appointment, they were actually excited to buy. Not to mention, now they are well versed in the process, so when they come in after their wedding they know exactly what to expect!
3. Pre-Design Everything
I hate the idea of feeling pushy or salesy, so when I got started with virtual/in-person sales I would let the clients pick the images they wanted for their album, then I would design it and send them an online proof. Big mistake. The problems with that were:
- It would take the client forever to select the images because they loved them all and it was so overwhelming to choose.
- Oftentimes the images they picked didn’t tell a full story… they might choose one image from the cake cutting and 27 sunset shots. I found myself with layouts and designs that didn’t make sense. Some pages felt redundant and other pages felt like something was missing.
- If the album in their collection included 65 images, most people would just select 65 images which meant $0 in upgrades, and now I have to order a $400 album.
- They focused only on the album because that was included in their collection, and never purchased anything else like wall art or gifts for parents. By pre-designing an album, wall art, and thank you cards for your clients it does a few things:
- Once they see the pre-design or “mock-up,” they’re able to visualize it and fall in love with it, meaning it’s a lot harder for them to say no. This means more beautiful things in their life and more sales for you.
- It’s a lot harder for people to remove photos than it is to add photos. By intentionally over-designing the album to 100+ pages, you instantly open up the opportunity to upgrade. It will be very difficult for them to take pages out once they’ve already fallen in love with the design. And let’s be honest, we say over-designed, but these are their photos. It won’t feel that way to them. Also, I’ve found that every couple is different and prioritizes different parts of the day. Some couples may want a lot of family portrait combinations, others may want a lot of dance floor photos. By providing a robust design covering every part of the day, I’m giving the client the opportunity to see everything and then they have the option to choose versus me choosing what should be excluded from the album.
- The story feels full and beautiful because you (as the expert) designed it in a visually appealing, well-balanced way.
- If they weren’t initially interested in wall art but you show them a beautiful collection of their most meaningful moments, now they may consider that as an upgrade. Same goes for other add-ons like thank you cards.
4. Reach Out To Parents of the Bride/Groom
It’s a big day for the parents of the bride and groom as well. While I used to think “they’ll reach out if they want something” I’ve learned there’s a lot of additional revenue that can be earned if you establish a relationship with the parents from the beginning. In the initial consultation, you can ask your couple about how involved their parents are in the planning process to get a sense for if it would be appropriate to reach out or not. From there, we ask our couples to provide us with their parents’ names and contact information when they finalize the wedding agreement with us. We let both the clients and the parents know that while the couple is our main priority, we also understand that this is a big day for mom and dad as well, and we would like the opportunity to get to know them and their family better so we can serve them in the best way possible. After obtaining the parents’ contact info from the couple, we send out an introductory email to all involved parents introducing ourselves and letting them know we are here to help. Then, about 3-6 months before the wedding we will reach out again and let them know that we’re in the process of building out the timeline and family photo combinations with the couple and that they should coordinate any specific requests with them at that time. We also offer the opportunity to hop on a call with us. On this call we will answer any questions they have and ask them if they’d like to pre-purchase a parent album, wall art piece, rehearsal dinner coverage, or anything additional we feel may be of service to them. Not all parents will invest in lots of add-ons, but we usually get about 20% of parents who will spend anywhere between $2,500-4,500 on parent albums, wall art, or additional upgrades. At 30 weddings a year, that’s 8 parents’ accounts spending on average $3,500. An extra $28,000 sounds nice right?
5. Same Day Slideshows
The thought of producing a slideshow of images the day of the wedding can seem pretty terrifying. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be perfect—you’re just going for impact here. This is one of the most effective ways to market your business to your ideal clients and get add-on print sales from wedding guests. Here’s how to make this happen:
- Setup the wedding gallery before the wedding day (feel free to add in an engagement photo for the cover image).
- Add that URL to the back of your business cards so guests know where to find the photos.
- During cocktail hour or another “downtime” during the wedding day, send your second shooter to shoot detail shots or group photos while you select 50-100 of your favorite photos (or vice versa).
- Throw a quick preset/exposure adjustment on these images and export.
- Use a digital picture frame to display the photos near the bar for people to watch while they wait for their drink.
- Stick a business card holder on the picture frame and use the business cards with the URL on the back to send guests back to your website to view the gallery when it’s ready.
- Capture their emails when they enter the gallery, send them an announcement when the images are ready with a discount off loose prints in the gallery, and then add them to your email newsletter.
Maybe not every one of these will work for your business and I don’t want to downplay the amount of work involved. Each of these will take hard work. So start by implementing 1-2 of these ideas to help increase your client accounts and boost your revenue this year, and then come back to try new ideas.