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Favorite Resources

In support of full disclosure this page lists companies Photography Awesomesauce is an affiliate for. When you click on the links I am compensated in commissions if you purchase any items through these links. I only refer companies whose products I recommend and love. Using these links don’t cost you any more than they would normally, in fact, sometimes using an affiliate link will get you a discount. Some of these discounts are included below.

Camera Gear

  • B&H Photo
  • Borrow Lenses – If you want to rent lenses or camera bodies online to try before you buy something, or during a time when your camera is being fixed; these guys are the peeps to see!

Marketing Tools

  • Moo – For amazing business cards, stickers, other marketing stuff and 10% off your first order, click the link! These business cards are on high quality cardstock (I love the way they feel), and you can get a different photo on each card if you want!
  • Coschedule – For anyone with a WordPress blog, this plugin does it all. You can create a blogging calendar, assign tasks to other bloggers (if you have them), and schedule social media updates for blog posts – or even stand alone social media updates!
  • Rock Your Weird – My other business where I blog a lot of free information about social media, branding and blogging!
  • How to Automate Your Business – An online class taught by yours truly on how to automate some of your social media marketing efforts!

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  • Get Found with Fuse – Fuse is my favorite SEO expert on the web and we partner for projects now too! Fuse has a ton of blog posts, classes and tools for photographers looking to up their SEO game. Fuse is truly a wiz at what she does and knows so much about this. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met!

Online Gallery & Print Sales

  • Shootproof – I use this company for my online gallery, digital downloads and print sales. They are the ONLY company that has an automated email system built into their galleries, which allows me to do a ton more for sales! Take 25% off any annual plan by using my exclusive code: SWAILS25
  • CG Pro Prints – My favorite lab for canvas wraps!
  • Fundy Software – This company makes awesome software to help you create blog collages, album designs, wall gallery samples for clients and more all in a matter of minutes! I love their products and use them myself. I also get no kickback for mentioning them!

Graphic Design & Branding

  • Rock Your Weird – Education on building a brand
  • Rachael Earl – My personal favorite graphic designer. She has built the website for 3 of my other businesses and done the graphic design for the branding on all 4 of them! I can’t recommend her enough if you’re looking for a new logo/brand or an entire custom website!
  • Made in the Lab – This is one of my other businesses that I actually co-own with Rachael Earl and Jason Toevs. They create website design templates for Showit websites as well as other design tools for marketing. I’m just their marketing business partner and leave the graphic design to my expert partners!

Business Tools

Website, Social Media and Blogging Tools

  • Coschedule – For anyone with a WordPress blog, this plugin does it all. You can create a blogging calendar, assign tasks to other bloggers (if you have them), and schedule social media updates for blog posts – or even stand alone social media updates!
  • Prophoto Blogs – If you’re looking to start a blog for your photography I recommend using WordPress as the website platform. From there, you’ll need to install a theme (design) and Prophoto blogs are some of the best out there. Photography Awesomesauce is on a Prophoto theme. If you use the promotional code CSWA7097 you can get $10 off anytime. The code never expires and using it buys me a glass of wine – cheers!
  • Theme Forest – These guys provide WordPress themes (designs) for your website. The themes are pretty affordable and there are some amazing things in there if you’re looking to start a blog and not spend big money!
  • Showit – My favorite company for a responsive photography website with a built in blog! My own website is on Showit, and I don’t get a kickback for referring them!
  • Shootproof – My favorite online gallery and print sales system!

Disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission (in the US) requires that I disclose any relationship I have between a product manufacturer or service provider when I write about a product or service.

I (Carrie Swails) am an affiliate of many of the products that I discuss and recommend on this website. What this means is that if you purchase a product by clicking on a link or image on this site I may earn an affiliate commission. You should assume that I will earn a commission on any product that you purchase after clicking on links or images on this website.

I only work with companies and products that I trust will be a good match for the photographers reading Photography Awesomesauce, and I wouldn’t endorse just any old thing that comes my way. In fact, I’ve turned down more advertising opportunities (and big moolah) than you could imagine because I want to ensure I’m only referring stuff that I LOVE to you. That means that the affiliate links here might not get me big money, but they do help me pay for the cost of hosting such a big website, and sometimes I get wine too.

When I speak at a conference or event, I do not pay a registration fee for that event. Some conferences also waive registration fees for that event for one or more of my colleagues or a traveling companion. Sometimes I pay my travel and hotel expenses when I speak at an event.

Some of these companies I have worked with (past or present) and received compensation (money or otherwise) from are listed below. Not every company on the list partners with me. Some I just post about because I love what they do or what they stand for without compensation. They’re all companies I have worked with and loved. You may find links to them and information included in blog posts or on my favorite resources page. When I include links in a blog post, I provide a separate disclosure reminder just so that you know what’s up. Ultimately it’s important to me to be legal with the information I provide you!

  • Get Found with Fuse
  • The Blink Conference
  • Shootproof
  • Pixifi
  • B&H Photo Video
  • Fundy Software
  • Borrow Lenses
  • The Modern Tog
  • Digital Photography School
  • Prophoto
  • Coschedule
  • Moo
  • Photography Concentrate
  • Showit
  • Showit United
  • CG Pro Prints

How to Sell Without In-Person Sales

HOW TO SELLThe title of this blog post might stop some people in their tracks. I expect some IPS (in-person sales) photographers to be sitting there glaring at their screens like, “wait is she going to say that IPS are wrong?!” I’m here to assure you that’s not what I’m saying at all!

First, let’s take a minute and discuss what IPS is and how it works. IPS stands for in-person sales. It usually means that the photographer doesn’t reveal photos to their clients until they’re sitting down in person. Then you can discuss and showcase the products you sell with them and get them to buy prints and products.

As we all know one of the most heavily debated topics and areas where photographers disagree in the industry is the subject of print sales. We argue over how much we should sell prints for, whose business model is best, why everyone should do things with digital files or why everyone should be doing IPS. I’m not arguing for any of these things. I would argue that what is most important is valuing what you do and choosing a business model that works for your lifestyle. Not all businesses have to do things the same way which is part of what makes us successful. I think it’s awesome that there are so many ways to structure photography businesses.

As a photographer I believe we can learn things from exploring all different types of business models. I’ve been a digital file only kind of photographer and an IPS photographer as well as everything in between. There are so many great posts and resources out on the internet that help IPS photographers or get into that business model. I wanted to write a post for the photographer who includes digital files in their session fees on how they can still benefit and sell prints and products even if IPS isn’t for them. Ultimately I think it’s important for any photographer to try and include print and product sales for their clients. IPS or not, photos shouldn’t just end up on a USB or file on a computer – they should be shown off!

That’s really what it comes down to for me. I ran a very successful IPS style business several years ago. I was a huge fan and promoted that business model – even here on this blog actually! However as life changes so do priorities and where I wanted to put my energies as well as what I wanted my business to look like. I wanted to include digital files, but I also wanted to sell prints. I wanted to find a way to sell prints successfully online without having to do IPS sessions with my clients.

I put together this blog post to share a few tips on selling products if you aren’t doing IPS. I know some of us it just doesn’t fit our vision of where your business will go, or maybe you really don’t have time and energy to dedicate to it. If you’re interested in IPS and want to learn more we have some great photographers who use this technique in our Photography Awesomesauce community online – I highly encourage you to ask questions and see how other photographers are doing it!

  • Use an Online Gallery – If you don’t want to sit down in person with your clients and get into sales then the perfect way to get sales is with an online gallery that has sales options for your products. There are tons of gallery companies which allow your clients to download their finished digital files, limit how they download them, and offer tons of different print products. I highly recommend Shootproof, which is what I’m currently using to get print orders from clients. I can control how my clients download their photos, and pick the products I want to sell and price them the way I’d like. I can also allow Shootproof to auto fulfill an order with a professional lab they are connected with or I can chose to self fulfill and use a lab they may not have available for certain items. Auto fulfill is an option if you find yourself especially busy or unable to manually process print orders. Having your photos on an online gallery available for clients to use themselves to make an order, or to pass around to their friends and family allows you to gain maximum exposure and the potential to receive lots of print orders from clients and their family.
  • Advertise in Advance – This is probably the biggest thing of all! Advertising your print products in advance is like setting the expectation that they’ll be ordering from you. If you have the attitude that they will and project that to them, there’s a higher chance they will. When you’re doing a consult or booking include materials or talk about the products you sell. At a consult you can have examples of all the things you sell in the room with you. Showing them in advance gets them excited for what they can order later and it plants a seed. They will be planning on ordering from you later. If you don’t always do consults with your clients I recommend putting together an information packet for your clients to welcome them to your business. You can have print and product samples and pricing in a folder, magazine, or other paper set up. I really love the idea of having a magazine just to showcase your products with beautiful photos, information, pricing and how to order. Once you’ve sent them their online gallery after everything is over, the idea is that they’ve been planning what they will order all along!
  • Educate Clients – Okay so maybe the last one was crucially important, but so is educating your clients. When you’re a business that really focuses on digital files it is especially important to educate clients about where to print, how and what the results will be depending on what they chose to do with their files. Even though my clients receive digital files they could print on their own I want to give them a lot of great reasons to print through me. Even though it may be counter-intuitive to be really open and honest about how your printing and business works behind the scenes I’ve always found clients really appreciate it. We always discuss things like the quality of a consumer lab (like Walmart or Shutterfly) in comparison to the quality of a professional lab. We talk about how my files are calibrated to print at a professional lab so I cannot control the quality, color, exposure, or experience of using a consumer lab. Don’t be afraid to even show them samples of how a consumer lab looks different from the quality of a professional lab. Blog about it for your clients so they can see the samples online too. You know how they say knowledge is power? Well, it totally is. Use the knowledge you have on why you like to print through a professional lab and share it with your clients. I also like to drop in there that anyone can use a consumer lab, but only a professional photographer can use a pro lab.
  • Provide Incentives – Want to sell more effortlessly? Give some awesome incentives. Send your wedding clients a coupon code for discount prints to use through your online gallery with a thank you card. Some photographers even set up their galleries to expire. Or you could use a coupon code that gives a higher discount for ordering sooner after the online gallery was shown. Shootproof also has an automated email system where you can have them send emails automatically at certain points in time to remind them of their gallery expiring, a coupon code expiring or other awesome stuff. So you can let Shootproof’s automated system totally take care of promoting a sale for you (another reason they’re especially awesome).
  • Don’t Overprice – This sounds a little crazy, but how you price your products will depend a lot on what type of business model you chose. Some photographers have a smaller session fee and a required amount for clients to spend on products. Some include digital files in a high cost session fee. Some do it completely differently. However, if you include digital files I’d consider really looking at your pricing of your products closely. If you’re giving out digital files with the session fee you’re also giving your clients an opportunity to print somewhere else and take that potential income away from you. I think you can encourage clients to print with you when you keep your print prices lower so they compete better with a consumer lab your client might go to. While this method might seem backwards, it works well for me! In fact when I was doing IPS I was doing really well, and when I switched and lowered my print pricing I still did awesome. My print sales and profit from them has never dropped, even though I ruffled some feathers blogging about doing this before.  I’ve consistently profited the same or more with a set up like this. It’s a great way to give clients digital files and also make money selling prints.
  • Use a Professional Lab – I’m just going to throw this out there even though most of you might know already, but it’s really important to use a professional printing lab that doesn’t allow non-photographers to print there. Selling products to clients is great when it’s something they can’t get on their own, but if you’re selling products and using Walmart or Shutterfly to fill the orders I’d really rethink that so you’re able to offer your clients something they can’t get anywhere but you.

Hopefully these tips will help if you’re a photographer like me that doesn’t use IPS to sell products. You can combine your love of digital files and get your clients still printing through you! You can check out more blog posts about prints, products and albums in our archive. You might also love How to Start Selling Prints and 18 Products Photographers Should Sell.

How to Start Selling Prints

When it was suggested to me that I write a blog post on getting into print sales it didn’t dawn on me that maybe there are some newer photographers who don’t even know where to go to begin setting up this process for their business. I forgot what it was like to want to sell prints, but not even know what the options were, until you guys reminded me. So here’s a basic step-by-step, how-to guide on starting with prints.

1. Make the Decision

First of all, you have to decide if selling prints is the right choice for your business model. Adding print sales can add a lot of profit and extra opportunity for you to deliver great customer service.

2. Decide What You Want to Sell

I think it’s best to decide what you want to sell and make a list prior to visiting all the options at the photo lab. Sometimes all their extras can get you overwhelmed and you forget about what your clients may be interested in and start getting distracted with all the cool fun little things you can sell. You don’t want to offer too many products. Offering too much will overwhelm your client into not being able to choose what to purchase. Offering too little might be limiting and they may choose to print elsewhere. It’s so important to find the right balance. I used to sell more options, but I found there were so many things clients didn’t want or need. There were also certain items that just didn’t fit my business model that I stopped selling as I got more in touch with finding my ideal clients and what they really wanted. Traditional albums, birth announcements, graduation announcements, and save the dates used to be big sellers for me, but are something I’m no longer interested in offering.

Here’s the list of the items that I currently sell. These are the print and canvas sizes that seem to sell the most with my clients and they’re the ones I’ve stuck to. However, if a client had a special request for a certain size I wouldn’t hesitate to price it out for them, but these are the items I list on my price sheet.

Print Sizes: 4×6, 5×7, 8×12, 11×14, and 16×20
Canvas Sizes: 10×10, 12×12, 16×20, 20×30
Other Products: Albums

3. Understand Professional Labs

One of the things I didn’t “get” early on in my business was the big difference in quality between a professional print lab and a Walmart print lab. Even professional labs have differences in quality and customer service. If you’re going to be offering prints for sale to your clients make sure you’re offering them something they can’t get on their own. Service from a professional print lab is usually only open to professional photographers and your account with a professional lab has to be approved before you can start putting in orders with them. Offering professional print services is something clients can’t always get on their own.

4. Find the Best Professional Print Lab For You

Professional labs have varying degrees of quality. I’ve ordered from many of the big name ones in the industry. Many print labs have options where you can order sample prints to see how they look and if they are a lab you’d like to use. A lot of you guys ask me for recommendations on the best print labs in the industry. While there are many good ones, here are a few things I can speak on about my experience with some labs. Millers Lab is my printer. I offer printing services through my online gallery system, Shootproof. If you’re looking for an online gallery, they are the best. You can use the code SWAILS25 to take 25% off any annual plan with them.

For canvases I use CGPro Prints. Again, this company is local to Colorado and I love supporting my local economy.

I’ve had some not-so-wonderful experiences with the customer service from Simply Color Lab and ProLab Express that I won’t go into. I’ve also found that no matter how much I calibrate my monitor the colors from Mpix’s professional lab and non-professional lab are always bluish and don’t match what my photos look like.

5. Price the Products You Are Going to Sell

The next part of working with prints is the controversial one…pricing your products. There tend to be lots of different ways that people price products. There’s the shoot and share method where a photographer prices higher up front, includes the digital files in that price and prices products low. There are also other methods where people price low upfront, but require an investment in products. People also price high on both ends. Really there’s all kinds of different ways to decide where you want to price. The important thing is that none of these pricing models are wrong, they are just different. There are amazing examples of success with each of these business models and you just need to figure out which one will work best for you. I’m a “shoot and share” business model. I price higher up front, include digital files and then sell my prints for prices that can compete with my clients printing at a cheap lab like Walmart. It works for me, but other methods have also worked in the past and other methods also work for many successful photographers.

My best advice to you is to price according to what you would look for as a consumer. My best sales have always been easiest to make when I really believe in what I’m selling at the price I’m selling it for. It’s easier for you to market a product and price when you would buy it yourself at that price. Again, every consumer is looking for different things when they purchase products and services. Defining what type of consumer you are will help you define what sort of business model best aligns to your personality.

6. Find a Selling Platform

Once you’ve researched your favorite labs, figured out how much you want to charge for the products you want to sell – the last big step is making it happen. You need to find and set up a system for what you’re selling.

Your decision should come down to whether you want to spend the time fulfilling orders yourself or whether you would prefer a more automated process. Each has its benefits and downfalls. Fulfilling yourself can be more time-consuming and time is money, but it can help you ensure quality products and order accuracy. Using an automated system to fill orders can save you tons of time, but if you have an order mishap it can be more difficult to figure out later.

So, here are some options for you and some products I’ve used and tried. You can take what you will and try it out yourself.

Smugmug – this is an online gallery and ordering system. They allow you to set prices, chose products and give you different labs you can have orders go through. You can have their system be fully automated to handle orders for you.

Shootproof – this is another online gallery system where you can show your photos to your clients and they can order. You can set prices, use their labs and have everything automated or you can set prices and self-fulfill orders too.

Zenfolio/Bludomain – I put these two websites together because they are similar services. You can get a website with an entire online gallery and built in car system with either of these websites. You can set prices and self-fulfill orders.

PASS – pass is an online gallery system that is geared toward digital downloads as a product. Although they do offer print sales they are on a limited basis with sizes, set pricing and a set lab. The print prices option is entirely automated.

In case anyone is interested, Shootproof is my online gallery system of choice. I’ve used Smugmug, Bludomain, PASS, Pixieset and others in the past and they were not a good fit for my business model. 😉

7. Make Your Clients Aware

Your final step to starting your print pricing journey is making your clients aware of your new product sales. I find the best time to introduce products to clients is at your initial consultation. It gives them ideas of what they can purchase and helps them save up for those items to purchase later.

Include a print/product price sheet in your welcome materials too!