Chances are you became a photographer to explore your artistic side. You like nothing more than spending your days working with images and ideas, rather than chasing dollars. To many of us, the idea of sales feels ‘dirty,’ but that attitude is deeply problematic and may be holding you back from achieving your goals.
It’s time to reframe how you think about sales in a more positive context. In truth, “sales” is nothing more than building a relationship with your clients. You build a connection with a potential client, establish mutual trust between the two parties, and come to an agreement about how it will work for both of you.
Great photography usually comes from a trusting relationship between the photographer and the subject. Extend that relationship into sales. “The clearer you are about who you are, what you offer, and how you approach your art, the more likely you’ll be to attract clients who are right for your business,” explains Anne Simone in her blog post for ShootProof.
Let’s take a look at how to get better at mastering the vital skill of selling.
There’s nothing more dangerous to your reputation than going down a particular path with a client, building a good relationship, and delivering work without setting out the financial terms upfront. Unless the client is very wealthy and money is no object, there’s a good chance that springing the cost on them at the last moment will lead to conflict.
At the end of it all, either you will feel you’ve done too much for the price you’re charging or your client will feel they’re being overcharged and complain about it. Transparency from the beginning is key.
“Never, ever price shock your clients,’ says Alice Park, founder of Park Studios and NAPCP. “Photography is an investment, so give your clients time to review ALL your pricing and product offerings prior to their session and any in-person photography sales meetings.”
These days, most photographers have two fundamental approaches to selling their work. They can either take a fee to do the shoot and then deliver the images via an online gallery or some other digital process, or they can charge a lower fee for the shoot and then make sales to the customer in-person when they view the results.
It doesn’t have to be ‘salesy’ at all, but the in-person sessions are where you can make some great sales. It’s risky to take a lower fee, but the upside is worth it.
The most important part of the sales process for photographers is the time you spend in person with the client. That’s the moment to get them excited about the beauty of printed work and the various options available to them when they order.
You can remove a lot of the stress from the process by being well prepared. Showcase your work like a theatrical experience. Make an event of it so they can see and feel how good print is. Let them touch matte and gloss finishes or examine stretched canvasses up close, show some different frames, have portraits hanging on the wall, place an album in their hands so they can take ownership of it... Whatever it takes to make the process more real for them and make them aware of all the benefits of having printed portraits and products
Let your clients know how much you value photographic prints. If the first time your client hears about wall art is at the sales meeting after the shoot, then you have significantly lowered your chances of selling them any. The more you know about their homes, offices, and personal spaces, the more you can suggest appropriate solutions that they will be interested in. That’s the hallmark of a good partnership.
From the very first time you talk to your client, you should be discussing wall art, albums, and frames and giving them options. You can suggest a large single wall portrait, or offer them a collection of images that can go up the stairs or around a doorframe… Have some examples to show them so they can envision their images that way.
Too many photographers are scared of being seen as ‘pushy’ or ‘money-minded.’ But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all about being a professional. If you come at your work from a place of integrity and expertise, then your clients will begin to see you as someone who extends their service into all aspects of the business from start to finish. You are the expert and should present yourself as such. Always keep in mind that what you are suggesting to your clients in what is best for them and their memories. Learn what the right size portrait for the different spaces is, what should a person’s head size be, how to best display photographic art. You will gain confidence and be a better when it comes to that sales session.
Your goal should be to turn clients into ambassadors who go out and vouch for your work and service. If you haven’t acted professionally around the sales aspect, then that’s not going to happen. Bring your integrity and forge a partnership with your clients, and the anxiety around sales will simply fall away.