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Show what you want to sell by Michael Alan Bielat

With the global economy struggling it is more important than ever to try and make more money. Well Michael Alan Bielat, a photographer from the US may just be able to help you earn a little bit more cash.

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Wedding portrait by Michael Alam Bielat
Create interesting and unique portraits.

Let's face it, times are tough. It is really easy for families to eliminate certain wants in life in order to make ends meet during these economic hardships. However, what if I was to share some simple techniques to make more money during these troubled times?

First and foremost, as the title suggests, you have to show what you want to sell. "Show what you want to sell" simply means your clients will be more inclined to purchase products that they do not have to think too hard about. In order to get your clients to think outside the box, you must effectively showcase your products in a very impressive manner. Make them easily see what's available other than wallet size and 8x10" photographs. If clients walk into a studio or gallery that is filled with matted 8x10"s, then that is the only thing clients will notice. How does that help sell your larger prints? Now imagine the WOW factor if you were to replace those 8x10"s with all 30x40" canvas gallery wraps.

Couple on their wedding day
Make good photographs bigger to give them more impact.

Let's take it one step further; imagine those mammoth prints displayed over a sofa or fireplace. Now, nothing is left to the imagination. Clients have furniture in their homes so; displaying your prints in this manner allows them to physically visualise how well a large print can be incorporated into their living space.

As a final way to really get your client to bite, make one of those large canvases a photo from you client's recent session. I purposely set aside two weeks before a client's viewing session so I can get a canvas made. Once that is done, it is imperative to bring that canvas print up in your conversation. Tell your clients that you loved the images from their photo shoot so much; you just had to order one for your studio. When they show even the slightest interest, say that since it is a studio sample, it can be sold at a discounted price. Half the time my clients end up walking out the door with that canvas under their arm. Really hit that impulse buy nerve. My clients who do not purchase the print, get contacted about a month later and I mention that I am currently making room for new studio samples so they have the opportunity to purchase theirs for an even bigger discount than before. Keep in mind this discounted price will still make you money.

Baby picture by Michael Alan Bielat
A new parent couldn't resist this series of photographs.

On that note, let's touch upon pricing. It is imperative that your products are priced well enough so you can make a decent profit. Do not forget that your time is money. You need to get paid for all the time you invest making the products. Typically, a good starting point is to multiply the price that you pay for a specific service by four. Just make sure that you take everything into consideration. One other thing to note is that you are not helping yourself by giving stuff away. Everything has a price and should be thought of as so. If someone wants something for free, simply say it is not within your company's policy to do so.

By showing all the impressive products you offer, you have already attracted the client into booking with you. That's the easy part! The challenge now is getting them to open up their wallets. This requires you to be an even better salesperson than you are a photographer. If selling is not your Forté then hire someone who can effectively handle the sales portion of the business for you. Being a good seller is that important.

 Wedding photo of men with flowers
You may be able to take a good photo but can you sell it too? 

A good salesperson educates, offers their professional opinions and guides their clients through the entire process without making anything overly difficult. It is very important to show clients the various options that are available.

One way to capitalise on this is to try and up-sell items that have a high "perceived value." A product that has a high perceived value looks like a really great deal to the client. A great example, that I am particularly fond of and use quite effectively, is to sell an experience to my client. By being known as a photographer who makes photo shoots fun, exciting and unique, I am able to then market and sell that concept which does not cost me a penny. Other examples include using fine art papers, photo retouching or even matting the prints at no additional charge. I find it takes away some of the sting off the fifty dollar price tag of an 8x10" while not taking too much off your bottom line.

Wedding photo of the men and their socks
Present your photos in a variety of ways to create the chance of a bigger sale.

Later in the viewing session, when I feel my clients have reached their spending limit, I like to share some products that I have specifically saved. On average, 30 to 50 images are presented to my clients during their viewing session. Out of that, about a quarter of those images are purchased. One of the things I hear most often from my clients is that they love all the photos and wish they could purchase all of them. It is at this time that I re-introduce my collages, coffee table books, slideshows, and so on. Now all of a sudden the images that they thought would be gone forever the minute they walked out the door, can now be saved. Just imagine the perceived value that the client sees in those products.

Another great selling tip is to incorporate special offers or promotions which kick in only when a client spends a specific amount of money. A good tip here is to increase the perceived value with each milestone. Doing so encourages clients to spend more to reach that next milestone. I came up with my milestones, simply by setting a goal for myself. It is easy to say that you want to make $1,500 per portrait commission but it is important to be realistic. Take everything into account... your previous sales averages, number of photo sessions shot in a year, your client's demographics and where you are located. These figures will change from suburb to suburb and city to city. What might effectively work for someone else may not work for you. Now that you have a specific figure in your mind, subtract what the client pays to book their session (I refer to that as a sitting fee) from it to create the first milestone that you want your client to reach. Their award could involve you throwing in a frame, canvas gallery wrap or even upgrade some prints to fine art papers. The next milestone may involve creating a slideshow or coffee table book of their images. No matter what you decide, make the final milestone something really worthwhile. I prefer to stay away from creating print packages and opt for an à la carte shopping experience catered to my client's specific needs.

Photo of couple dancing by Michael Bielat
Cater to your client, give them photographs they will want to buy.

You will see an enormous difference by implementing some of these suggestions. A great way to start is to just look over your current prices, realize your true worth and stop giving things away. Remember that saying: "nice guys finish last?" It is very easy to take that route by discounting your products and services. However, at the end of the day you still have to pay the bills. Remember that lowering your prices is the kiss of death to photography studios. More work for less money never amounts to anything good. I began receiving an additional $1,000 per client when I stopped including a disk of images with my wedding photography packages. My clients wanted the images on CD and they were more than willing to pay for them.

Discovering these various sales strategies wasn't an overnight phenomenon. I have spent months, if not years, refining my business and prices until I found the perfect balance. I hope this article encourages you to think outside the box to ensure that you can continue being successful while doing what you love.

Visit Michael Alan Bielat's website for more information.

Baby portrait by Michael Bielat

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Morpyre Plus
15 1.6k 8 Wales
8 Apr 2009 8:32PM
thanks for the great advice - will definitely come in useful when moulding my earning package in future Grin

peter "morpyre" turner
ranpagh 11
28 Oct 2009 3:55AM
thanks for sharing...

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