Post Author: Eugene Nagawiecki

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TOP 3 Tips to Scale Your Income as a Professional Photographer

Would you like to increase your sales? Do you want to make more money with each sale? We thought so. Check out these essential top-selling tips to give your pocketbook a boost.

What is it that every business owner wants to achieve?


OK, the second thing. What is the second thing every business owner wants to achieve?

Of course, it’s more sales and more profits. And what's the best way to achieve this?

The best way to do this is to maximize each sales opportunity with effective upselling strategies.

And don’t be fooled. You may be a photographer, but as a professional photographer, you are, indeed, a business person. Your line of work is as much about the sales and profit margins as it is about the beautiful bokeh and post-edit.

So, look at these three top upselling tips to have you start realizing that dream of more and more significant profits.

1. Know your Customers: Take Time to Know What They Need

We know that as professional artists, you want to do things your way, AND we know business practice tells you to limit choice and remain a soft authority in the sales process, but don’t take this too far. Make sure you let your clients have some input in the direction and outcome of the experience. Take the time to get to know your clients – every client – that is curious about your service and understand exactly what they’re trying to get out of their experience with you (remember: that’s what it’s ultimately about, not the other way around).

USB and Print in Complete Album Sets

So from the minute, a potential client sends the first email, places that first call, or walks into your studio, you can start the conversation to see what direction the sale will go. Even seemingly casual, non-sales-y dialogue can give you valuable information going forward.

Then, don’t fight the direction the client lays out. Instead, find ways to use it to your advantage.

If the client seems open to suggestions or needs to be more firm in their opinion, you can find subtle ways to direct them to your objective. For example:

Potential Client: Hi, my name is Jim, and I heard about you from a friend. We’d love our daughter to have some Senior pictures done before she finishes high school and goes to college.

Photographer: Great! I’d be happy to help out. What did you have in mind?

Potential Client: You know, just a few nice images for us to have at this vital time in her life and something for her to share with her friends.

Photographer: Got it. Is your daughter active on Social Media?

Potential Client: Yes, very. What teen isn’t these days?

Photographer: Yes, right. Are you and your wife?

Potential Client: No, not really at all. We’re ‘old-fashioned’ people….

Even from this short, casual discussion, some crucial sales notes can be taken. First, as one might expect, it is clear that the teenage daughter is an active social media user and, therefore, likely is interested in some digital files to share with her friends appropriately. At least, this can be a great angle to take later on for an upsell.

Equally so, with the parents being ‘old-fashioned,’ it will seem reasonable to offer a quality print option for the whole family to enjoy.

Success to them, then, means both a digital and print option. Of course, they might not even know that themselves, but even from a few sentences, it becomes clear this would be the best-case scenario.

Learn More Print & Digital Options

So, to help elevate your upselling game, get to know your clients and keep your ears open for signs and signals of which direction to take the sales process. If in doubt, please ask your client so they feel they are being listened to and respected in the process. If they make passionate decisions, one way or another, don’t ignore them, but instead, respect them and work with them.

As much as you might want to stick to your style, no client will stay if they feel like they are being completely ignored. Moreover, the more clients are satisfied, the more likely they are to be big-spending clients (and, later, returning ones).

2. Offer Upsell Options That Make Sense

Once you’ve gotten to know your clients and their idea of success, you need to be sure to find the appropriate upsell to meet their needs. There are dozens of upsell, cross-sell, and selling tactics and techniques. Be sure to use the information you gather from your client to use the most appropriate ones.

The Perfect Professional Photography Upsell Products

For example, if we go off the scenario above, an obvious upsell would be a product upgrade. Instead of offering them a print product like a photo album or a digital USB alternative and leaving one of the parties unsatisfied, you can upgrade the photo album to a Complete Set or package, as we have at nPhoto. This will combine a printed photo album with a USB and even come with a durable yet stylish album box to protect and keep the album and USB in one place.

Get a Complete Set

This might go over something like this:

Photographer: It sounds like there are two groups to please here: your daughter; and yourself and your wife. I say this because your daughter seems to be most interested in using these images to share with her friends on social media – which is ideal with a digital package, but, on the other hand, I don’t believe you and your wife would be happy with just digital files, am I right?

Potential Client: Yeah, we’d like to have something we can see. I use my computer for work, but that’s as much as I can take of it. So we were really hoping for something we could show off in our home.

Photographer: I hear you. This is why I think we should go for my Complete Package. My Complete Package will give you both a printed photo album AND a digital USB with digital files so your daughter can easily share them on social media. How does that sound to you?

Potential Client: Is a digital USB necessary?

Photographer: Do you want your daughter to love you? It’s not so easy to upload a photo album onto social media. I joke, but in all seriousness, this is a significant moment in your daughter’s life, and you don’t want to take anything away from it. The digital product will allow her to use the images how she would like to. And while the Complete Package may be more than my Print Package or Digital Package on their own, it’s cheaper than combing the two together. This, to me, is the best option for you. What do you think?

As the conversation plays on, more appropriate upsell options may become apparent. For example, product protection and customization opportunities:

Potential Client: OK, I like that idea. Let’s do that. Only….

Photographer: What’s the matter? I can see you’re concerned.

Potential Client: Well, no offense, but I’m going to be spending a lot of money on this package. What if something happens to these things soon after I buy them?

Photographer: Understandable. I guarantee these products are of the highest quality and will last you generations, but if you’re really concerned, I can give you a lifetime warranty for a small amount. With this, should anything happen, just come back to me for a re-print – on the house. How does that sound?

Potential Client: Perfect...Oh, and could I get my daughter’s name on these things?

Photographer: Sure, I can do personalization for $x per item.

3. Limit Your Upsell Options

So far, we’ve talked about gathering information from your client and then using that information to offer them later appropriate upsells. The following way to ensure you’re efficient and effective with your upselling is to keep the upsell options limited.

In the same way, and for the same reason, you don’t want to offer dozens of products to your clients. To begin with, you equally don’t want to inundate clients with dozens of upsell options. Too many upsell options will overwhelm and demotivate your client in the same way too many product options will.

Professional Photo Product Upselling Setup

Worse yet, the more upsell options you offer, the more you start to sound like a dirty salesperson. So keep upselling (and cross-sell) options limited and appropriate to ensure their success and effectiveness.

In a perfect world, upsell opportunities will present themselves naturally, as in the examples scenarios provided above. We understand this isn’t always how it works, but never feel desperate and try to force the issue.

Likewise, don’t offer a million options thinking you’ll ‘cover all the bases’. This will also make it seem like you’re trying too hard and ultimately frustrate your client(s)(and only frustrate you trying to keep track of everything). 

BONUS: Don’t Overdo It

Speaking of not feeling desperate, our bonus tip cannot be stressed enough: don’t overdo it.

Use upselling and other sales techniques appropriately. Stick to the mantra ‘quality over quantity’. Use the advice above and make sensible suggestions only when appropriate – even if it means (or at least seems) not very often.

As much as a successful upsell can benefit your business and your client relationship, an unwanted upsell that feels like a cheap sales push WILL more profoundly turn off your potential client, often completely.

This takes us back to the beginning, stressing even further the importance of starting your sales journey with information gathering so you can be confident in knowing what to offer and when.

OK, learning more about your client, offering upsells that make sense, and being sure to avoid drowning your client in a cascade of possibilities may not help you take over the world. But they will help you take over your local photography market.

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