Ad image

PPA Today: See the Difference Archives

Recently in See the Difference Category

By Lisa Sharer

Selling a final product is what sets professional photographers like you apart from the shoot-and-burn amateurs or the low-price-ballers. In fact, Professional Photographer magazine recently released a case study on this topic.

Case Study: In-Person Sales and Print Products Saved These Studios, by Jeff Kent. Read the story to find out how three different photographers embraced the challenge of and, in the end, the profitability of implementing in-person sales with their clients. Each case is a clear example of how any photographer that is willing to put in the effort can make a full-time and highly profitable career out of their art. It just takes a little gusto (and in some cases just a little muscle), but it pays off!

PetBrochureMockup.jpg
Now, with the inspiration of this article, check out the completely customizable brochures available to all PPA members. This tool will set you up with an easy guide for your clients. It includes tips, spaces for your best images, and a helpful pricing guide where you can start to show your value.

Not yet a PPA member? Well then, check out the See The Difference® program to learn more about how PPA helps photographers with marketing, in-person sales, and lots of other resources to be more profitable.


By Lisa Sharer

You may have noticed a few updates to the Print Movement website. We've made a few improvements, added some new visuals, and made it easier to view on mobile. The one thing that may stand out though, is a BRAND NEW PRINT MOVEMENT VIDEO.

Value of PRINT.png

One of the members of the PPA board of directors and established photographer, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, shows the journey from photo session to print. The story clearly shows the impact that a print can have on a client's home and delves into the feeling it brings to the family.

This video beautifully shows the value of printing. It exemplifies how offering printed products can truly delight and evoke powerful emotions from your clients. At the same time, you can see the monetary value these products can add to your business. "I choose to offer and sell products that are not readily available in the marketplace," says Fisk-Taylor. These products give her an edge through unique materials that set her apart.

Watch the video and share it with fellow photographers. Nothing can get us back to printing but us. So it's time to start getting the word out there. "We need to print, people."
If you're not already a part of the PRINT movement, join today!
By Tristin Vaccaro

pexels-photo-40120.jpg
Having to justify your prices to clients is always nerve wracking, but why should it be? You work tirelessly to ensure quality service and you already know your worth, so don't be afraid to help others see the value in what you do as well! Yes, it's unfortunate that you should have to justify yourself in the first place, but when the inevitable conversation comes up, remind clients of these very valid reasons for your pricing structure. 

1. The Quality of Your Work: Your photos speak for themselves, and the quality of your photos should be the number one factor clients consider before even thinking about price. Your portfolio is the purest reflection of you and how you, specifically, capture people's fondest memories. This is really your chance to show off and explain to clients what you can do for them. Showing clients your previous works and describing their quality should be your go-to example of the value you bring to the table.  

2. Testimonials: Word of mouth and customer referrals can play a huge role when validating your pricing to a potential client. If every one of your customers enjoys working with you and loves the photos you've provided, why not brag about it? Consider adding a "Testimonials" page to your website or ask satisfied clients to leave a five-star review on your Facebook page.

3. Education: There's nothing wrong with being a self-taught photographer, but there is something to be said for an individual who continues their education in the photography industry. Whether you have a Bachelor's degree in photography or participated in PPA's Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program, higher photography education shows clients your dedication to the craft. Let your clients know about your photography background and how those experiences have made you a better photographer. 

4. Personal Investments: Those questioning your pricing probably don't think about all the investments you've made yourself. The expensive camera equipment, editing software, and gas to and from locations probably cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention all the time you've spent researching the client, replying to inquiries, creating the images, and meticulously editing the final photographs. Your time and money are valuable too, which may help you explain just some of the costs of doing business. 

5. Differentiate Yourself:  It's easier to justify your prices if you can explain why, exactly, you're different from your competitors. Perhaps it's a fresh perspective or your use of exclusive equipment that other competitors simply don't have. Whatever it may be, find out what makes you different from others and effectively communicate this with your clients

6. Final Products: It's a basic economic fact that people will pay more for something that looks expensive. If you have nicely matted, high-quality prints or beautifully bound albums to physically show potential clients, the products will speak highly for themselves. Also, consider taking a second look at your website and ask yourself if there is anything you could do to make it more professional, elegant, clean, etc. The quality of the little details in all aspects of your business could make the largest difference. 

7. Confidence: All of the above methods to justify your pricing don't really mean anything if you don't believe in your pricing in the first place. You know that you are worth the money because of your skills, dedication, and personal investments. The key here is getting others to see your worth. Communicate your value effectively, politely, and with confidence. Never settle for less than you are worth just because someone wasn't able to see your value. Not everyone is your "ideal" client and it's ok that price turns some people away.  YOU ARE WORTH IT! 

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for STDiff_monthly_push_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg




By Lisa Sharer

With PPA's See The Difference toolbox, you'll find tools, resources, tips and examples to help photographers work on marketing, branding, and sales! These tools include everything from enlightening videos to photo-style quizzes that are fun and informative for photography consumers and prospects alike. The variety of resources you'll find is to help you show potential clients why hiring a professional photographer is smarter and more cost effective than hiring an amateur. It's all about upping the value of your offering and positioning so you can stand out from the crowd. PPA continuously adds new tools for PPA member to easily add to their marketing collateral pieces, website, social media, sales presentation, etc. This month you will find a brand new resource to further enforce that concept.

In this effort, a contest was held on theLoop (PPA's members-only social network) to find some fun images that may remind you a bit of your childhood ventures into Highlights magazine. The idea is for your potential clients to see two side-by-side photos, and see if they can pick out all the differences between a photography snapshot and a professional portrait. Studies have proven that games like this one, as simple as it may seem, help people integrate concepts in a deeper and faster way. As the saying goes, a picture (or two, in this case!) is worth a thousand words. Simply put: let them play a little and they will see the difference between a pro and an amateur shot.

spotthediffpostcard.jpg
You will find one spot-the-difference postcard for each photography specialty: Wedding, Family, Newborn, Seniors, and Pets. Simply print out, and keep them in your studio or share them on your website. Your potential clients will find themselves enjoying a little puzzle, while also learning the talents that a professional has to create beautiful photos.

Use this or one of the many other See The Difference resources to help market your brand and sell your services and products. It's just one of the many ways that being a member of PPA can help you Be More. If you're not a PPA member, check out all the benefits you could be receiving and then join today!


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lisa Sharer_Profile.jpg
About the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.

By Lisa Sharer

First, let's define exactly what brand means. According to Wikipedia, "A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer." Simply put, it's the 'je ne sais quoi' that consumers perceive about you and your business and make them turn to you before your competitors.

Since that 'je ne sais quoi' is by definition, undefinable, you'll need to try out different strategies to see what will make you stand out. If you're new to the marketing game, try starting with the basics. After many tests, you'll eventually figure out how to reach your target market, and exactly what is bringing in the clients.

So why is branding beneficial to all this when you're busy trying to get more clients? Well, once you have a style, a unique customer service experience, a familiar name - you'll be the go-to photographer for your brilliant kind of images and the experience you offer. For example, you are looking for a certain home product and you want it to be mailed to you as quickly as possible, what's the first company you might go to look for that product? Did someone say Amazon? They have built their brand over many years to coincide with those exact thoughts that you might have as a consumer. Now, it's time for you to be that special photographer.

Here's what you can expect with a great, stand-out brand:

  1. You Will Be More Visible. Your logo or your name will become familiar to the potential clients in your area. They will already know who you are before they are even looking to hire a photographer. They'll even compare others to you, and in the end, come back to you because it's your brand that attracts them.
  2. Trigger Referrals. Once you've dazzled one or two clients with your unique customer service experience, captivated them with your beautiful images, and delighted them with the quality of your products, you'll have already started your branding. Getting referrals is like going viral - except it's offline and brings in more credibility and...real cash.
  3. Be More Profitable. It goes without saying that once you have more clients, you'll make more money. But you should also note that once you are displaying amazing products, your sales will soar as well. And photographers with an established, strong brand will all tell you: the sale happens most often when people are attached to your brand and come in with a pre-existing understanding of the larger scope your artistry offers.

So, invest in developing your brand. Are you the quirky high school senior photographer? Or are you the incredibly laid-back family photographer that can make anyone feel comfortable? Wherever your brand fits, stick with it, develop it, and let your photography flag fly!

Next month we will be featuring See The Difference and the PRINT Movement as they are two very useful benefits for PPA member to grow their business. We have some very exciting things to help you build your brand and sell more products. So be on the lookout!

Not yet a PPA member? Find out about the amazing benefits PPA has to offer, and join today!


Lisa Sharer_Profile.jpg

About the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.



Education_BOTM_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg

By Lisa Sharer

We've all heard that printing is more profitable than handing over digital files. We've all seen photographers with great galleries of printed photos. We all know the benefits our clients receive with tangible products. So, "where do I start?" you might ask. We've found five products that you and your clients will love.

Prints: First, consider basic prints. This option is for the clients that want to spend only a little extra money to hold the image in their hands but are trying to stay budget-conscious. Prints of photographs will make the perfect addition to your clients' homemade photo albums, an addition to their budget-conscious gifts, or self-framing displays.

Print Packages: Perfect for the graduating students! These days, high school seniors are getting some amazing and phenomenal photos. Images of this caliber cannot (rather should not) be contained to one small format. These clients are likely to want digital files, buttons, etc., but your biggest impact will always be through a larger framed piece. Think about offering this pack to your graduate's parents.

Mounted Photos: Mounting prints is a sleek and modern way to display photos. Many clients find that these types of photographic work not only enhance their home with timeless memories, but they also add a stylish element to any wall... and boost everyone's ego, which is always a valued yet not-spoken-about benefit. Consider making this part of your offering when pitching your services to your clients.

Booklets: This is a fun way to put a collection of photos together. Whether it's for the graduate or the family reunion, an array of pictures come together to make the perfect viewing experience. Consider including this in your studio to offer to any type of client!

Matted Albums: They're just like the albums a client would buy from a supercenter and stick their own photos inside. Except 100x better! These will catch the eye of any client that's looking to include a grand array of photos. Think about offering this after a family photo session, or to the client that is looking to include a lifetime of memories in one place.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can start positioning yourself as a print artist today and start making more money. Once your clients see the range of products you offer, they'll be inclined to learn more about your craft, and they'll respect you as a printmaker. At that point, you're likely to see a higher level of print sales, and a higher number of happy clients.

Learn more about bringing print back to the foreground of photography. Join the PRINT Movement today!


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lisa Sharer_Profile.jpg
Aout the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.

By Lisa Sharer

You can't just get out of bed in the morning, decide you're going to sell prints, and then become a millionaire. (If you have done that, send us a message; we have some questions!) For the rest of us, we could use some tools to help us learn how to sell more prints, as well as educate our clients; so they are the ones asking for these products. And these days, video is king.

That's why PRINT. The Movement has created an entire section on their website dedicated to video resources. Currently, you will find an assortment of content that helps photographers with some essential skills for in-person sales. You'll also find some videos that will educate your clients, and there's even a quick message from world-renowned photographer Anne Geddes!


PRINT Blog Image.JPG

Check out these videos to help you increase and maintain your business as a print artist. Not only will you be helping yourself, you'll be helping the world...one beautiful image at a time. Join us, and become a part of the movement today at PrintMovement.org.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lisa Sharer_Profile.jpg
About the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.


By Autumn Rice

PPA photographers are a diverse group of people who begin as friends, but ultimately become family. Through connecting with one another and sharing experiences, they provide a support that contradicts the thought of being in business alone. PPA's YouTube video series, Behind The Camera, features professional photographers who share their trials and tribulations, and their relationship within the PPA community. Today, Trish Logan pitches in. 

None of these interviews are scripted or paid for. These are real photographers, members of PPA, who value and share the power of their PPA community. 

In this video Trish Logan shares the value of See The Difference resources, and how they increase the credibility of her business with her clients.


Help your photography friends and share this video. The power of being involved and deeply connected goes beyond professional development. It's a support system no one should be left without. You can also view a full playlist of the Behind The Camera Video series on PPA's YouTube channel and learn more about See The Difference here.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2016. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
iStock-531860244.jpg

By Lisa Sharer

It's happened to all of us. Probably more than once. Someone asks you what your rate is, and when they hear it, they are appalled. You start to feel a little flush. You start to think, maybe I went too high. You start to want to back into the nearest bush.

We're here to tell you to kick that bush to the curb! Part of becoming a professional photographer starts with confidence. If every photographer folds, then no one gets paid. By demanding a solid rate, you're not only helping yourself, you're helping all the photographers that come after you.

Here's a recent, completely real, interaction that we applaud:

A photographer is out and about taking pictures. He is approached by a gentleman who notices him.

Gentleman: You take pictures?

Photographer: Yes.

Gentleman: How much do you charge?

Photographer: It really depends on what you want.

Gentleman: Just walking around downtown with you taking pictures of me.

Photographer: My portrait sessions start at $$.

Gentleman: (Laughs) Oh, come on, man.

Photographer: (Without hesitation) This is my full time job, and I'm really good at it. Here's my card. Check out my portfolio, and let me know if you're interested.

If you believe in yourself, your clients will believe in you. Set your prices, stick by them, and above all, do NOT be embarrassed by them. Remember that you spend many hours--collective portions of your life--perfecting your craft and building a business. You have every right to charge fairly for your service, and you should never be ashamed of it.

"Listen up photographers. Know what you're worth. State it with conviction. Know when to bend, but know that bending should be the exception. There will be clients that will see your worth and pay your fee." 
                     - Aaron Coury, Photographer.

If you would like more help on how to sell yourself and your service, check out PPA's See The Difference® resources. PPA members have access to a plethora of sales and marketing tools to assist in promotion and in-person sales. If you're not a member, you should join today!
Zigler_quote_450x450_keyline.jpg

By Lisa Sharer


If you've read our previous article Marketing 101 for Photographers, you may have a general idea of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Now, let's break it down to exactly how it works, and what you can do to optimize your websites for search engines... and ultimately get more clients from improved search results.

Top Level Search Engine Marketing Factors

You probably know of some widely used search engines like Google.com, Yahoo.com, or Bing.com. These sites decide what rank to give to your website amongst the other photography businesses out there in the world and this directly impacts how far up your studio's name appears in a search results page. How they do that raking is a more involved process that you might want to learn to help you improve your own SEO ranking.

SEO_Checklist_Graphic_1200x1200_New.jpg

Search engines sort the search results they serve based off a few different factors:

  • Content - Does your content match the search of your potential client?

  • Site Structure and Internal Links - Is it user friendly, and do all your links work?

  • Geographical Location - Are you in or nearby the city where the client is looking for photography?

  • Mobile Optimization - Is your site easy to use on a mobile device (phone, tablet, e-reader, etc.)?

  • Loading Time - How long does it take for your site to load its content (photos, videos, etc.)?

  • Social Signals - Are you getting traffic from social media platforms?

Search engines have "bots" or "crawlers" that visit websites and check each of the items above. Once they have tested those items they then compare your website to other similar websites. Your ranking will depend on how you fare against those sites, which is why it's imperative that you make sure each item is performing at its best.

Improve Your Ranking with Authority & Relevance

Google.com, Yahoo.com, or Bing.com all use two common criteria within the algorithm used to produce search results. And while they all evaluate them differently, there are two key factors for you to understand as they will help with your optimization: 

Authority- A website shows its level of credibility based off how many links tie it to other websites. This is what search engines call the level of 'online authority' and this is where you look to other sites and influencers to help raise your site's authority. When a search engine finds your site through an outside link, it's showing it that you have enough authority that other people/sites trust your content. Beware though, it's not the quantity of links that helps you but their quality. For example, a direct link from PPmag.com would fare better than JoeSchmoPhotography.net.

Relevance-  The content on your site must be relevant to photography or some version of your expertise (portraiture, wedding, etc.) in order to rank higher. That means you'll need to use keywords that speak directly to what your photography business offers to your prospective clients. It's not just the words on your landing pages that you'll need to keep an eye on, though. You'll also want to make sure that your URLs and text formatting are shouting about your business. For example, when PPA wanted to tell you how insurance could help protect photographers, then we created the link PPA.com/BeMoreProtected. Likewise, to emphasize the content relevance of a blog post, it earn will you more SEO brownie point if you embed keywords in the headlines of your blog post, and it is even better yet if you bold keyword-related phrases. Make sure to keep those small things in mind when creating any kind of content, as they make a large difference to the search engines that crawl your site.

SEO-Graphics-735x184_01.png


Keywords

When someone does a search online, they generally type in a few keywords. For instance, photographer or family portraits in [location]. These keywords are important to make sure you are attracting quality leads. Of course, it would be amazing to rank #1 for photographer, but if you're not Wikipedia, that's not likely to happen. That's why long tail keywords have become more important than ever to your SEO strategy. You'll need keyword lists in order to run search ads, but it's also important to think about these keywords when creating content for your site.

Remember, those search engine results pages are looking for relevant and authoritative information to improve your ranking. So you will want to include information and keywords that are specific to your specialty and locale. Rather than just "portrait studio," maybe you'll want to include things like "outdoor family photography in [city]" or "high school senior photography in [area]," etc.

Most photographers overlook the power and importance of long tail keywords. Getting by on the basic short tail keyword is fast and takes little to no research. So, of course, we want to get things done quick and easy. However, if you take that route you're missing out on a huge opportunity. Optimizing for long tail keywords will make your site stand out over the quick solution photographers.

SEO-Graphics-735x184_03_New.png

Content is King

If you know or have even met anyone in the online marketing world, we can guarantee they've said this at least a thousand times (and you've probably heard it at least once). Content is King. Gone are the days of dial up and Encyclopedia Britannica door-to-door salesmanship. People use the World Wide Web daily for work and for pleasure. Hungry minds are looking for education, news, social interactions, and of course, information gathering and shopping. A trusted website is going to capture those hungry minds ahead of any bells and whistles that you can sound off.

This means you need more than your homepage and gallery. You need to include content on your website that is engaging and valuable. And that content has to be 'relevant' to the searches of your potential clients. So, how do you easily add this essential content to your site? Through blogging. Having a regular blog with new and continuing content will not only delight clients looking for an added value to a site visit, but it also helps improve your search ranking.

Even if writing isn't your strong suit, blogging is a good way to relate to your clients, make you a real human being, and again help with your rankings. We do recommend having someone proof read for you if the copy is more than a couple of paragraphs long, but you are in the visual business! Use this to your (business') advantage and share behind the scenes photos, or selfies with clients, or location scouting shots by adding captions that show that you are who you and your clients say you are! Here are a few tips and ideas for blog content:

  • Added Value - Don't just write a bunch of words because you can. Think about what would really add value for your clients and go nuts! (How to prepare for a session, organizing the family for the portrait, best grooming tips for your puppy's first photo, what not to wear and why, etc.)

  • Compare - Look at the top 10 photography sites that you currently aspire to rank with. Take a look at how they used your keywords (frequency, position, etc.) and compare that to your current content.

  • SEO_Goldfish_1200x1200.jpgBe Engaging - A white page with black text is going to put most everyone to sleep. Make sure that you include photos, graphics or videos, if you can, but also remember to use bullet points and headlines (ahem, look at this blog) to help organize the content and guide the reader through your content.

  • Get To the Point - along with the age of super-fast internet, also comes people's super-short attention spans. Use enough detail to get your point across, but also get to the point quickly.

  • Have Fun - If you're not having fun with your content, it will show. People enjoy a good personal, conversational tone, and they will read more if they feel that in your words. From Throwback Thursdays #TBT, behind the scenes, bloopers or plain fun shots, people will get to know you better, making them come to like you more each time you make them smile, so have fun with them!


Stay Ahead of the SEO Game

All search engines and their bots are getting more and more complex because they're trying to think more and more like humans would think by using artificial intelligence to help answer your online searches. So rather than changing your site and content constantly to try and improve your ranking, put your hard work into the relevance of the content you create. That's what artificial intelligence will be looking for as well.

SEO_Robot_1200x1200.jpgAs you learn more about optimization and search engines, you'll start reaching that perfect client because you will be more liked by social media platforms, you will have more visitors on your website, and you'll have more followers on your blog. All these are indicators that your online presence as a photographer is trustworthy (relating to you online authority) and likeable (relating to the relevance of the content you push online) and, as we opened this article, people who like you who will do business with you. This fact of life also applies to Bing, Yahoo and Google who will improve your search ranking once they trust you and see that you are relevant in among photographers with in your area.

And as we've said in previous articles, test, test, test! If something isn't working, you can only fix it by trying something else. Just don't forget that you have plenty of marketing resources right at your fingertips with PPA's See The Difference® tools. Work on your website and blog to get more visits, and rock those See The Difference tools to be more relevant and start capturing more sales.




Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lisa Sharer_Profile.jpg
About the author:
Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.


About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the See the Difference category.

Professional Photographer Magazine is the previous category.

Studio Management Services is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Live Chat is open