Sales: 5 ways photographers psych themselves out

1. I don’t live in a market where people spend that kind of money.

I hear this one a lot! This was my biggest fear when I began selling artwork to my clients. All markets are different. But there are all sorts of people in your market and the surrounding area who value photography in different ways. There are people who will invest money in photographs. And sometimes you'll be surprised by who will spend money on photography and who won’t. It all comes down to how valuable the client feels the artwork is to them. It’s our job as photographers to educate clients and teach them that their photographs are part of their legacy. That, in and of itself, is valuable. If we don’t help them understand why it's important to print out their memories, who will? Don’t assume you know what your client will or won’t spend. Assumptions limit you.

Make it easy for your clients to know what you offer besides digital files, and show the products you want your clients to buy.
© Robin Reece
Make it easy for your clients to know what print products you offer.

2. My clients only want digital files.

Everyone wants digital files because that’s what they have been taught to want. Make it easy for clients to know what you offer besides digital files, and show the products you want your clients to invest in. Show them how they can display their photographs and enjoy them. Let them hold and feel these things. Show them amazing artwork, and they will want to invest in amazing artwork. Educate them from the very first meeting that artwork is the final result of their session. They may still want electronic images, but they'll put digital files in proper perspective when they understand the value and beauty of printed products. 

Show clients amazing artwork and they will buy amazing artwork.
© Robin Reece
Show clients amazing artwork and they'll buy amazing artwork.

3. What if no one buys anything?

I was afraid of this when I first started. Let’s be honest: Some clients won’t buy anything. That’s OK. But the clients who believe in the value of what you create for them and how it will change their lives will choose to invest, and they will keep coming back for more. Show them what they can have. If we fail to show them, of course they won’t invest in anything. Whose fault is that? When I decided that it was important for my clients to have tangible artwork but realized I wasn’t providing them with this option, I knew I was the only one to blame. The solution became blatantly obvious: I needed to show my clients what I could create and give them an option to invest in amazing artwork. Then there would be something wonderful for my clients to purchase.  

It’s our job as photographers to educate our clients and teach them that their photographs are part of their legacy and that, in and of itself, is valuable.
© Robin Reece
It’s our job to teach clients that their photographs are part of their legacy.

4. I'm not good at sales.

You don’t have to be good at sales or even have any sales experience to sell artwork. But you have to believe in what you're doing and what you're creating for your client. You have to care about your client and their legacy and what it is that they're handing down to the next generation. These are photographs of your client and their families, not some piece of abstract art or a pretty landscape. Your client will feel emotionally attached to the photos of them and their family. If you believe in your service and your product and you care about your client, they will believe in the same purpose, which yields an incredible end result that everyone can be proud of. All you have to do is show them what it is that they can have hanging on their wall and, nine times out of 10, the artwork will sell itself. Selling photographs comes down to being your clients’ trusted advisor and guiding them through the process by showing them what they can do with the amazing photographs you create.

Design and in-person sales software helps make a sales session easy.
© Robin Reece
Design and in-person sales software helps make a sales session easy.

5. It’s too much work and takes a lot of time.

I live three hours away from my studio space, which is also where my target market is, and I typically drive three hours to do an in-person sales session. Even if my client chooses not to invest in any artwork, I feel like I've still made the effort to show them the potential of what their photographs and memories can live up to. My design consultations run anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes on average. Whether my clients invest in a piece of artwork that is $600 or $6,000, the time is always well spent because they've seen the potential end result and will be taking home an incredible piece of art to showcase their memories.

Whether I'm doing my sales session online or in person, using a design and sales program has made it easy for me to show the designs and for the client to visualize the end result. The one I use is Fundy Designer, which is a one-stop service for designing and selling albums and wall prints. Once you get a rhythm of how to run your sales and design session, it's a walk in the park. My clients can see exactly what the products are going to look like in their home, and I can make changes on the fly during the session. When the session is over, I place the order. Done.

In a market that's so overrun by digital media, you can’t afford to let artwork slip through the cracks by refusing to sell. The time is now. Your clients’ legacy depends on it!

Robin Reece is owner of The R2Studio in Phoenix.