Here are ten tips to running a successful portrait business:
1. Prepare for seasonal orders
Make the most of Christmas – and other holidays. Prepare some really creative and unique pictures that are ready to go on your blog at least a month before your holiday. Then spread the word on social media and send an email around to all your previous clients and other contacts advertising your holiday photography.
2. Shoot local sports groups
If you can get a deal with a local sports venue, you can make really good money. There is software available that lets you store all the photos from an event, pass around a card with a link and wait for everyone to log in to your site to buy your pictures, which you have organised into priced packages; some software even links up with professional printing services, so parents can order mugs with their kids’ picture on and other additional products. You can also adjust the settings, so that the extra merchandise is only available when purchased with your main products. Think of other events you could approach with this format too.
3. Go corporate
Although digital cameras have replaced photographers in some companies, there are still big, corporate firms that need their staff profiles updated from time to time. Take a look at the websites of your local companies and call the ones you think could do with a portrait refresher, then follow up with an email pitching your deal.
4. Make a simple price package structure
Odd as it may sound, it has been proven that too many choices can put clients off. If the options are endless, consumers start worrying that they are not getting the best possible deal, and then it’s easier just to order from the competing provider who has a simpler, more transparent pricing structure. So clean up your offering and display the package you are most interested in selling as the most prominent item on the list.
5. Show the end product
Most people shop with the end product in mind (you’re not just shopping for a dress, you’re shopping for a dress to wear for the Christmas party), so if all you are showing on your website is digital files, you’ve missed out on a huge opportunity to make the viewer imagine what they can get. Show pictures of your images framed and hanging on a living room wall, beautifully displayed in an album or temptingly described on a beautifully designed gift voucher, and customers are much more likely to make a purchase.
6. Keep the client excited
Don’t send sneak-peak photographs to your client; they could lose their excitement, or worse, steal the low-res file and decide not to buy your portrait. Instead, make sure the client only sees their photos at the ordering session, and make that a face-to-face session wherever possible.
7. Do in-person sales
It might be scary, but if you sell your packages face-to-face you are more likely to sell your premium products. You don’t have to be a hard salesperson for this to work; you just have to be honest and confident.
8. Use your clients’ network
When you’ve finished a shoot, give your client a voucher that entitles their friends to a free print. The print won’t cost much, and you’ll have a new customer in your archives. Alternatively, give your friends a free portrait in exchange for them using it as their social media profile picture with a tagline saying, “I had this photo done by xxxxx and I love the result. It only cost me £xx’. People are more likely to buy something if they know that their friends also bought it.
9. Throw a portrait party
Many women hold pre-party sessions at home while getting ready to go out. It gets you in the mood, builds up confidence and is a lot of fun. Now, imagine if there was a photographer there, capturing everyone when they are feeling most radiant and selling the pictures at the end of the session? Try it with your own friends first and see if you can expand the concept.
Nowadays, a portrait photographer needs to be searchable online to get new customers. The more fresh content you have on your website, the more Google will work in your favour, so have a blog on your site and update it regularly. If you’ve followed the tips above and made your pricing structure and visual presentation attractive, everything will come together and you’ll get more Google visitors buying your products.