There are so many options for photographers when it comes to what it is they want to offer their clients. The one thing we ALL have in common is our passion for creating art, seeing the beauty in people, capture moments, and creating something special for our clients. This we can all agree on.
This article is about my personal thoughts on being a digital photographer. (someone who enjoys selling digitals vs. only prints and products in person). And by digitals, I mean a finished edited image in an online gallery. (I wouldn't sell my digital negatives because that wouldn't be a completed product). I realize there is a large world of those that do in-person sales and sell only tangible items to clients, and it’s often discussed that by not following this, your business is set up to fail. That it is not possible to grow a business, find the dream clients, and that by choosing not to do just products or in person sales you are missing out on some HUGE profits. I’d like to disagree, and am proof that it is possible to grow a successful business, have dream clients, make great sales and run a business that is taking care of my family financially. I’m very proud of my business; its success and 95% of the time only sell my digital package (which I love). I’d like to go over a few points on why I love being a photographer who sells digitals. This post is in NO way putting down those that love in-person sales (I think it's a beautiful thing), but I wrote it to shine a little light on why it's also great to sell online and my personal thoughts on why I love doing it this way. I want people to do what they love and not let anyone put them down for their choices and decisions. That goes for those of you who want to venture down the path of being a digital photographer, and those of you who want to do in person sales. The choice is yours, and I promise you there is no right or wrong.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE
If selling digitals are what you're happy with, then do that! If doing in-person sales is what you love, then do that! Stop putting one or the other down and just put the focus on what YOU love. You will always hear both sides of the argument, which is better, and the truth is, neither of them is right or wrong. Everything comes down to YOU, and what you enjoy. I LOVE being a photographer who sells digitals online, and I have no plans to change my business structure. I’m proud of it. I also think in-person sales is a beautiful thing and a wonderful business structure for photographers to follow. Like I said before, there is no right or wrong here, just follow what you enjoy doing and what works for you. If you do that, success will follow.
One of the main reasons I love selling digital packages vs. prints and products in person is because many of my clients from seeing me from 4+ hours away and there is no way I would feel right to ask them to come back and see me pick up their images. Being able to deliver all their images online (via pic-time) is super convenient, and they get their images instantly when I'm done editing them. If you'd like to do in person sales, then this is something you'll need to consider. You'll need to spend more time working with local clients who can come over for a second trip. There are plenty of clients who want to purchase actual prints, albums, and canvas. Being able to meet up with them in person is going to make the selling experience so much more amazing for them.
I price my work according to what I need to make per month and so far have not had any trouble making that happen with my prices, my clients, and my work. I’ve never done in person sales so I can’t claim that I would make more or less with them. But what I do now works for me and my business. I know a lot of very well known photographers that sell digitals vs. doing in-person sales and just like me, they are happy with their sales and business income. Your pricing and sales must be based on what you need to make per session; you can go about that doing it digitally, or with products. The important thing is that you know how much you need to make per session and then apply it to either making that amount per session by selling digitals or products.
WHAT DO CLIENTS LOVE?
My clients absolutely love it. We do live in a digital world, and I can understand why someone would want to have digital files. I would rather hire a photographer who sells digitals because I have a lot of families that live pretty far away. I grew up in Germany, and my mothers entire family still lives there, and there is something special about being able to share pictures with them, regardless of distance. There are also plenty of clients who are looking for photographers that can be there every step of the way and help guide them in choosing the perfect items to display in their home. If you enjoy helping clients style items for their home, then you might love this process of working with clients one on one.
If you want to venture down the path of doing in-person sales, then you'll need to account for this time as well. Not only will you need to price your sessions based on the time you shoot the session but also account for the time you'll be meeting with your clients to go over products and help them find the perfect items. You might have to shoot fewer sessions per month but will need to price them a little higher to make the same amount, which is entirely doable. Time management is so important when running a business. If I were to do in-person sales, I would need to take one extra day to focus on a sales session per client. Would I make more sales? I’m not sure but what I do know is that adding in-person sales into my business, would require more time than doing it digitally and online. If it’s something I need to spend more time on, I would also need to bring my prices up higher to accommodate the additional time it took away from my family. Again, either one you choose can work for you and your clients.
SHOOT AND BURN
This term is something digital photographers hear often. Shoot the session, burn it to a disk, and deliver. This is so incredibly far from what I do. My clients get a beautiful session experience, I spend hours, days, nights on editing each image in the gallery before presenting my client's final gallery. What they get is my completed work that took hours to create. Just because I love seeing digitals doesn’t mean that this is just thrown on a disk and delivered. I put countless hours of work into creating portraits that meet my standard of quality that I deliver to my clients.
A big misconception is that because of digital images, people no longer get prints done and that the images just sit there collecting dust. My clients are so proud to print out my work, hang it up on the wall, hang up beautiful canvases at their work, and display my work all over their home. I love going to a client's home and seeing all our past session displayed, and that to me is special. They often send me picture texts of their newest prints up on the wall and send me their holiday cards which feature my work. Nothing is collecting dust. They can print their images and do it proudly. Don't think that just because you're not doing in-person sales that you're clients aren't handing your portraits up on the wall.
Yes, I don’t get to see my clients face the first time they see images of their little newborn baby, but I have a great relationship with all my clients. I always get special texts from them thanking me for what I’ve created; they tell me that my work brought tears to their eyes and that they value what I do so much. I couldn't ask for more. I love my clients and hearing that (even in a text) is what brings me so much joy.
Let's recap. What's right for you? Remember, there is no right or wrong, there are millions of successful photographers that are digital, and millions that are doing in-person sales. It all comes down to what you want to do.
I’d love to hear - do you do in person sales or online/digital? What do you love most about it??