Business

What Happens When a Client Asks for RAW Files?

What Happens When a Client Asks for RAW Files?

Here’s the scenario. You upload your clients photos to a gallery and send them an email, or you mail your client a disc of images. Which by the way, stop doing that..it’s 2016. But that’s a different post for a different day. ANYWAY…. You send out the photos, your client emails you and says

“I love them! My husband dabbles in Photoshop and would love to edit them, can we have the RAWs?”

or

“Is that all of them? Can we have all of the RAW files?”

OR something along those lines…

And your first thought is ‘WTF. What do I do?’ Generally, within the community, it is a resounding,

“NOOOOOOO!!!!”

I generally have to agree with that. You will hear a million different analogies on why you shouldn’t send your client the RAWs, but here’s my favorite.

You don’t go to a baker, show them a photo of a cake, and then ask them for all the baking supplies, so why would you give your clients the RAWS. Those RAW images are just that, the ingredients to a cake and they haven’t been processed (baked).

This post isn’t about an analogy though, this post is what happens when you get that dreaded question, and how you can prevent it.

First things first, you shouldn’t give your clients the RAWs. Period. MOST of the time, clients have no idea what they’re asking for. There are many websites out there telling your client what they need to ask you (like when a client asks what gear you shoot with…they get that from a site and probably have no idea WHY they’re supposed to ask you that). This is no fault of the client. They just truly have no idea what it means to have a RAW image. Clients generally are also unaware that a RAW image is just that, RAW, unedited and usually in a format that they can’t even open on their computer without photo editing software.

Second, Put that ish in your contract. ‘Studio A does not give RAW images out, ever.’ That way, when they do ask you can direct them to your contract.

Third, SOMETIMES your clients are asking this because they don’t like the photos. I hate to say it, but if you’re adding weird editing to your photos, you’re probably going to get this question. If your photos differ every time you edit, and you aren’t consistent, you are probably going to get this question.

As photographers, this is a weird question. We don’t understand when a client asks and we freak out. It’s an easy fix (especially if it’s in your contract!). It’s a simple answer.

“Hi Client! 

I’m so glad you had a chance to look over your images! Unfortunately, per the terms of my contract, I do not release RAW images. All the images were gone over with a fine-toothed comb and only the absolute best were chosen.

Thanks and have a great day!

Sally Photographer”

It’s a fairly easy email to send. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. You can always give them the option to buy the RAW files from you. For a hefty, hefty fee. That’s up to you.

 

5 Reasons You Need Studio Management Software

photographyawesomesauce.com-2Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means Photography Awesomesauce receives commission if you make a purchase using affiliate links.

What is studio management software? Well it’s usually downloadable software or an online service you can use to manage everything behind the scenes with your photography business. I’m all about simplicity when it comes to business. Work smarter, not harder and all that jazz. Here are some reasons you – YES YOU – may need to invest in studio management software this year.

  1. You’re unorganized. Let’s face it, business is hard. You probably became a photographer because you loved taking photos and not because you loved handing all the paperwork and crap behind the scenes, right? You have stacks of receipts, paper contracts, and stuff scattered all over your office and files and it would be super nice to streamline things and not have to deal with all this behind the scenes stuff in the unorganized way you’ve been attempting to deal with it for a long time. Studio management software can take all that unorganization and organize it for you online.
  2. Go Paperless. If you’ve been printing out and sending contracts to your clients through the mail, or sending them a PDF to send back to you in the mail, you could go paperless using studio management software. Snail mail is for snails. If you want to get your bookings, contracts and payments much faster and make the experience much easier on your customers, then studio management software is the way to go. You can just send a contract online that can be signed digitally and connect it to an invoice – so your clients aren’t really booked until they’ve both signed and paid – and you get paid faster! Plus there’s less error for double booking clients!
  3. Automate Emails! AUTOMATE! Have you ever thought about all the information you need to send clients after they’ve booked (or before) about the booking process, what to wear for their session, other tips and information? Or had clients ask you incessantly for photos and you keep having to answer repeated questions for them over and over again? Wouldn’t it be awesome if all that information was sent to them and right at their fingertips and you didn’t have to remember to send it? One of my favorite features of studio management software is the ability to send a series of automated emails to clients based on the date they’ve booked. I use this tool to send clients links to my favorite wedding vendors and resources, reminders about when they’ll receive their photos, tips for their wedding day, reminders about engagement session and in general – to just provide useful information and resources for them. For a long time I was kind of against the automated email idea. I mean, it just seems really impersonal, but the truth is that I don’t have the time or memory to remember to send out these emails and rewrite them for each individual customer on time. My clients know there’s an email system to send them info and reminders and I’ve received nothing but compliments on it over the last year. Plus, if they want more info they can just hit reply and we can have a personal conversation about whatever the email topic is. Clients have loved the additional resources and have felt like I was more attentive and helpful than they initially expected. With weddings especially, I never want my clients to feel like the dead time in between booking and their wedding (which can be months or even a year or more) is time that I’m not attentive to them. I want them to know I’m thinking about them even when we’re not doing the actual work and automated emails definitely provide me the tool to level up my customer service.
  4. Let clients book automatically. Have you ever though it would be super cool to have a section of your website where clients could pick their session date and time from a calendar and then automatically book with you online? They could book everything and sign their contract and pay their invoice, without you having to do much work on your end? Studio management systems have that – specifically, Pixifi, the best studio management system out there, has this option perfected!
  5. Track some accounting. Accounting is the bane of any creative’s existence. I mean, who wants to punch numbers? You did not become a photographer to punch numbers! Lots of studio management programs have some accounting tools to help you manage this behind the scenes!

Now, the question might be, where can you find an awesome service that will help you with these tasks? My first recommendation is Pixifi. There may be other companies out there can do one or all of these things, but Pixifi is THE BEST. There’s simply no question. Of all the options out there, Pixifi is the one that truly cares and invests time back into its customers and creating tools and options you ask for. You literally can’t beat their customer service. In fact, you can read about how I feel about their customer service in this blog post about How to Win at Customer Service. Pixifi has a 60-day free trial which gives you more than enough time to set it up, test it out and start utilizing all of its tools. Setting up a management software can be tough and it tends to be one of the reasons why people shy away from these programs more often than not. However, there’s tons of resources out there to get you set up on Pixifi. First, when you sign up there’s a wizard built in that will walk you through a lot of the initial set up. Second, you can join the Pixifi Facebook group once you’ve signed up where there’s a great community to ask questions and get help from other users. Third, you can also pay someone to set it up for you too. Our very own blogger, Lisa Otto, offers this service and can make it quick and easy if it’s too overwhelming for you. That said, I’ve now gone through Pixifi set up twice, and I have to say the current Pixifi is so much easier to set up. In fact, the automated email system in particular is incredibly easy.

If you’re interested in trying out Pixifi, you can use my referral link. Please know that I may make a commission if you use my link to sign up and decide Pixifi is right for you! I’d recommend Pixifi with or without a referral system though. 😉

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!

How to Actually Schedule Instagram Posts in Advance

photographyawesomesauce.comIf you know anything about me, you know that automation is my jam. Anything I can automate in business gives me my life back and is worth the money spent. Even though I’m running four businesses, I’d still want to automate as much as possible with just one business so I could spend less time working and more time having freedom. That’s part of why we started businesses anyway, right? More freedom? More time?

To help you get back more of your life today I’m going to blog and share about how you can really schedule Instagram posts in advance. If you have ever tried to schedule Instagram posts in advance you’ll know that you can’t do it in the Instagram app, and you can’t do it when you log into Instagram from your desktop browser. One of the easiest solutions for business owners is Latergram. Here’s the problem with services like Latergram, while they allow you to schedule photos and captions in advance, all they really do is send a reminder to your phone at the time you wanted the post to go live and you still have to go in and actually make the post go live. It can definitely help you save time by not having to make decisions on the run with what you want to post, but wouldn’t it be better if the entire scheduling process was completely automated? Wouldn’t it be better if instead of having to still go in and make the post live, if something just did that for you?

Enter, Schedugram, my new favorite service. I’ve been with Schedugram since it was relatively new, so it’s actually not my new favorite thing, it’s been one of my favorite services for awhile. Schedugram allows you to log into a desktop internet browser, schedule your Instagram photos, captions and a first comment, and then completely automates the post going live from there, so you don’t have to drop what you’re doing at 3pm to make that post go live – they make it live for you.

Right now Schedugram is the only service of its kind and they do have a free 7-day trial if you want to try it out. I’m not writing this blog post because I get any kind of kickback from them. I, in fact, get nothing. I’m writing about Schedugram because it’s been such an incredible time saving tool for me in business, and because since using it seriously and taking advantage of all it has to offer, I’ve more than tripled my Instagram following.

Schedugram helps me be consistent with my presence on Instagram and consistency is one of the keys to booking more clients and connecting with new people. It also lets me manage social media and be more productive during my work hours because I don’t have to drop whatever I’m doing to think about, decide, and then post something on Instagram. I can create my plan of attack in advance, schedule it for however far in advance I’d like and voila my work is done.

To top it off, Schedugram has also provided a really good customer service experience for me. They’re very responsive when you email, and if their server is having issues they’re prompt at notifying you and making sure you are still happy and getting what you need out of the company. That kind of incident is incredibly rare though, but I appreciate their efforts to be great at communicating anything that may be going on that will affect my experience as a user.

So, if you want to take back some of your life in 2016, increase your presence on Instagram, and start having some consistency to your online presence – jump on the Schedugram wagon with me and hopefully it can be another tool in your arsenal that will help you take your business to new heights.

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!

 

How Shootproof’s Automated Email System Can Help You Sell More Prints

photographyawesomesauce.com-3Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means Photography Awesomesauce receives commission if you make a purchase using affiliate links.

Whether you’re a print based photographer or a digital files types of photographer, who doesn’t want to sell more prints? Selling more prints = more income, so I’m assuming everyone is on board with this idea. There are tons of ways to structure your business to increase sales, increase bookings and sell more prints, but I think one of the most underutilized tools that I’d like to hear more about in the photography industry is Shootproof’s automated email system. In general, I feel the power of automated emails is underutilized, but if you’re a Shootproof user, or just someone who uses online galleries this tool can definitely help you sell more prints.

Automated emails are basically a system of pre-written email templates that you can schedule to go to anyone who has entered their email in the gallery based on when the gallery’s expiration date is or another date. There are tons of great ways you can utilize an automated email workflow in your business, but Shootproof’s tool is the one we’re specifically talking about today. If you’re not familiar with what Shootproof is, they’re an online gallery system for photographers that allows you to connect with a professional print lab to offer prints to your clients, or self fulfill print orders, or sell/allow digital file downloads to your clients. There are tons of other great features they offer and I recommend reading about them in this blog post if you’re new to the online gallery world or are thinking about making the switch.

Below are a few ways you can use Shootproof’s automated email system to help you sell more prints. If you decide you’re interested in using Shootproof, use the code: SWAILS25 to take 25% off any annual plan when you sign up!

  • Discount Codes – There’s a concept that photographers talk about where when you initially deliver a gallery to clients you also provide them with a discount code for ordering prints. The discount can start out at whatever percentage or amount you want, and over time you can actually lessen the discount to give clients incentive to purchase prints sooner rather than later. Shootproof’s automated email system can be a great way to utilize this type of selling tool. You can have automated emails go out reminding them of the discount, or that the discount will go down on a regular basis after the gallery is delivered. It’s so much easier than trying to remember to email your clients yourself. The best part is that you can attach the gallery link to these automated emails so clients don’t have to go back and look for it in past emails or somewhere else.
  • Gallery Expiration Reminders – You can’t keep your client’s photos up forever, okay well you probably can, but one way to encourage print sales is to set a gallery expiration date after your clients photos are delivered and send out emails to remind them to order prints before the gallery expires. You can set the date whenever it best suits your business model, but using Shootproof’s automated email system you can send out those expiration reminders on a regular basis so your clients know exactly how much time they have left to order prints. A lot of times after you deliver an online gallery, especially if you’re a digital files kind of photographer, your clients will download the files and forget that they wanted to order prints or they will plan on doing it later. Gallery expiration reminders let them know that it is “later” and they should order their prints soon through you before they lose their chance.
  • Send Out More Info – I’m a really big fan of diversifying your income and at the same time providing extra resources for your clients. One of the things I do in business is become an affiliate for companies I like. When you’re an affiliate for a business you get a custom link and can provide it to other people. When they purchase something through your link, you get a small percentage of the sale. A great way to diversify your income streams as a small business owner is through affiliate opportunities. I used to really love creating my own newborn announcements, or save the dates for my clients, but when I really focused on what I loved to do in business I found those things weren’t one of my favorite tasks to do. Often clients ordered their own anyway, so now I’ve taken advantage of that and become an affiliate for Wedding Paper Divas (wedding save the dates, invites and thank you cards). You can even become an affiliate for Minted or Tiny Prints. If you’re not interested in selling and designing your own card or press products, and you’re already referring clients to services like these, you might as well become an affiliate and get a little kickback for sending your clients their way. I use Shootproof’s automated email system to provide clients with links to these kind of resources. I’m open and honest that I’m an affiliate and I get a commission when they use the links, but I’m happy to ask for the sale and let them know that if they appreciated working with me and are going to order through these services anyway that I always appreciate the kickback. Clients love it and so do I. There are also other sources you can include in automated emails, like links back to blog posts you’ve written about why clients should order prints through you and not through Costco or Walgreens, or blog posts about the difference between professional and consumer print labs. You could also link back to blog posts you’ve written that showcase your wedding albums, or canvases or talk about any other products you sell. Write a blog post about cropping ratios and how they work when ordering prints so your clients have that resource when choosing sizes, and then include a link to that blog post in an email to clients, or just write an email about it and work it into your automated workflow. There are so many great ways to use this resource. I also know that there are going to be a few naysayers out there reading this bullet point and thinking I’m nuts for sending my clients to places like Wedding Paper Divas to order press products when I could do it myself and make more money or provide a higher quality product. I know this and I’m not advocating my way is the right way or that everyone should do that, but it is what works best for my business and my workflow and it makes me happy. I always advocate that you do what works best for you and your business, I’m just here with ideas that have worked for me and you can take them or leave them. 😉
  • TemplatesShootproof’s automated email system lets you create templates in advance and then assign those templates to a timeline of when they will send the email. Instead of always writing something brand new, you can work off templates when you deliver the gallery and you can always go in and personalize it a little bit before you send the email (if you’re not automating it and just using a template to manually send it through Shootproof). Templates can help you cut down on time too!

This option on Shootproof is one of my favorite tools they have. We all know I’m a fan of automation, and why not do as much as you can to increase print sales and provide resources and information to your clients? One thing about these emails in Shootproof is that they send to everyone who has downloaded a photo in the gallery – so that means the emails will go out to anyone in there and not just the client. At first I wasn’t so sure about how I felt about that, and I’d love an option to send an email to just the assigned client in the workflow, but I figure sending it to everyone the clients shared the photo with (and specifically those who have downloaded or ordered photos before) is a good way to maximize print sales and profits. These people always have the option to unsubscribe to the emails if they don’t like them.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 12.38.33 PM

The links to Shootproof in this blog post are my referral link and I do get a commission if you sign up with them, but I wouldn’t send you somewhere I didn’t love and I really truly love Shootproof and everything they have to offer the photography industry. They’re an amazing company that really loves on their customers, so if you’re looking for an online gallery who is as invested in you as you are in them, these guys are the place to go!

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!

How to Win at Customer Service

3 ways to increase your Facebook reach-3Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means Photography Awesomesauce receives commission if you make a purchase using affiliate links.

Let’s talk customer service for a minute. I want to tell you a story about my studio management software experience this last year. Not familiar? Studio management software programs are basically a way for photographers to organize their businesses behind the scenes online. Need to send invoices people can pay online? Contracts people can sign online? Automate email responses to save you time so you can clean up your two year old’s spaghetti incident at dinner and still be on top of client communication? Need something that organizes you even more or automates your entire booking process with clients online? Well that’s what studio management software does.

First let me rave on automation for a minute. Anything you can automate to make booking easier for your clients or business easier for you is worth it. Anything that lets me take my life back is money well spent. I automate as many things as I possibly can. In this past year with my old studio management system I managed to finally automate email reminders to my clients. I had always hesitated in the past because I didn’t want my emails to seem impersonal and boring to clients, but my clients have raved this year about the email communications with reminders and tips for them. It makes me look better and also helps me keep on track with my clients and ensure all of them have the same great experience with me. I automate a lot of things, emails, social media, etc. To me that’s the biggest appeal of a studio management system, making things easier and more automated for everyone.

So, that brings me to the customer service story. I started with Pixifi ages and ages ago. Even though I was struggling with their system and technology I always stayed with them because Tim Hussey, the owner, was just such an awesome guy. I mean the customer service from this guy was unbeatable. He’s my customer service idol. I strive to try to do things as well as he does. He takes that individual one-on-one service to the next level. One time I deleted a client from my database and Tim spent a few hours with me going back and forth on Facebook until he fixed it just for me. I feel like so many businesses wouldn’t go out of their way to do that kind of thing. That kind of customer service is what always made me an incredibly loyal customer. So, when I left Pixifi for Tave it was kind of a big deal. I had always felt guilty for leaving Tim (Tim is Pixifi) and going somewhere else, but Tave’s system just worked and made more sense in my head at the time. Plus they cost the same (and still do).

But Tim spent the last year just making Pixifi better and better, and he takes customer suggestions to heart – seriously. I’d heard so many good things and I decided to give the trial a go again and see what was different. Man, it was such a different world. It was so much more intuitive. When I didn’t understand something and messed something up when I set up. Tim was quick to explain it and fix it for me. It was obvious that it was just even faster and more awesome than ever so I spent my free trial setting it up and booking a few clients through it, knowing that of course I was going to switch when the time came.

The time did come. I exported everything from Tave, deleted my account and responded to their “why are you leaving” question with customer service. I mean they weren’t really doing anything wrong, there was just something next level to what Tim does with his business.

That prompted this email from Tave:

“Hi Carrie, 

I saw that you just closed your account with us and mentioned having more personal customer service. Could you give us more feedback on that? 
We really pride ourselves on our customer service through our FB user group, in-app instant messenger, and free one-to-one video chats so any feedback you have on how we can improve that would be great.”
For the record I think it’s awesome that Tave is following up on lost customers. So I responded with a little bit more about my story:

“Thanks for the email. When I switched to Tave it was because Pixifi at the time didn’t have all the systems in place in an easy-to-use manner. It was complex to set up so when I found you guys it was incredibly refreshing, but I admit I was sad to leave Pixifi, because its creator, Tim Hussey, seriously has the kind of customer service that I’ve yet to encounter in any industry. Leaving Pixifi has always felt like a little bit of a betrayal because despite that they were missing what I needed at the time, I felt loyal to the company. The customer experience is what I always felt so loyal to with them. I own four businesses myself, one with over 7 million readers and I strive to have the level of service that Tim has with Pixifi. When his software had caught up in technology it was time to switch back again because I’ve always felt incredibly loyal to the community he’s created.

That’s not to say that your customer service is bad. You guys are doing okay, but it’s missing a more personal element to me. I’d love to see you guys get more invested with getting to know your customers personally. Did you know that today 80% of businesses believe they deliver ‘superior’ customer service and polls show that only 8% of customers agree? Customers are looking for that more personal element. FB groups are great and so are video chats, but I’d love to see you guys get more heavily involved with the photography community. With so many different choices out there in companies the one thing that truly distinguishes any company from another is having an extraordinary customer experience. I can’t put into words what I think you guys are missing, but I don’t feel as loyal and more than ever in today’s world customers are looking for companies that make them want to be loyal. I’d highly recommend you guys read the book Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman and start thinking about how you can differentiate your customer service and experience to develop your own loyalists. ;)”
Maybe it was an overboard response, but I just wrote what I felt (and threw in some facts I’d learned from Zombie Loyalists). If it helps anyone great, but mostly I want people to realize how much customer service means to the customer. Tave didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just Tim has such a great way of instilling loyalty in his customers that I couldn’t help but go back. I know I’m there to stay. It’s so important to make sure we’re offering the kind of customer service that makes our customers into loyalists and not just happy customers. Loyalists refer us to their friends with such passion their friends can’t help but be curious. If you want to build a business on word of mouth, the best place to start is with your customer service.
I guess this blog post doesn’t leave you with steps to win at customer service, but I wanted to give an example of amazing customer service. That said, Tave and Pixifi both offer incredibly solid products and services. I was happy with both, but I’ll always want to put my money in the pocket of the company that feels equally, if not more invested, in me. I’m hoping to find some ways to collaborate with Tim this coming year where I can get him out and teaching more on customer service!

If you’re at all interested in using Pixifi after this I highly recommend it (obviously). Here’s a few blog posts that have been written about Pixifi (or related stuff) on PA over the years. We’re lucky to have Lisa Otto writing for Pixifi over here because she works for them and has a ton of insight and experience, so if you’re ever having trouble she’s a great person to ask for help. While Tim’s customer service is next level, Lisa Otto is a huge part of that!

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!