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10 Selling Mistakes Photographers Make that Kill their Orders

By Sarah Petty

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Do you pour your soul into photography sessions, only to see too little money come in from your time and effort?

Do you routinely hear customers say your work is beautiful, yet they fail to follow up their praise by placing a sizable order?

When they do place orders, are their purchases much smaller than you’d like?

Are you wondering … just what the heck gives?

If you’re in this position, don’t worry: You’re not alone.

Many photographers have trouble encouraging customers to place large orders … or any order at all.

While it can be extremely frustrating to watch clients walk away satisfied from their sessions without buying physical products, fixing these 10 selling mistakes may be as simple as making a few tweaks to your business model.

Below, we’ll identify 10 selling mistakes you should stop making right away if you want to increase your orders.

By replacing these selling mistakes with intentional sales techniques, you can raise your average order price considerably.

In fact, by teaching photographers how to avoid these selling mistakes, I routinely help them raise their sales average to $1,500 an order. The same can be true for you, so follow along.

1. Apologize for Their Prices

sell more photography

If you want to sell big photography orders, you should never, ever apologize for your prices.

First and foremost, if you want to land big orders after your photography session, you should never, ever apologize for your prices. Saying “I’m sorry our prices are high, but it’s because we provide such quality” might seem like an effective tactic, but it really isn’t. You hear yourself saying how great your product is, but all they hear is they can get it for less somewhere else.

2. Assume All Clients Are Shopping Based on Price

selling more photograph by not assuming alll Clients Are Shopping Based on Price

Not all clients shop based on price alone. Competing on price turns you into a commodity photographer.

Don’t make a big deal of how low your prices are either. Not all clients shop based on price alone, and sometimes shouting about “what a bargain” you are is a turnoff. Instead, focus on what clients will get from working with you, and treat pricing as a reasonable afterthought.

3. Offer Pricing Before Discussing Services

sell more portrait orders by not Offer Pricing Before Discussing Services

Before you talk photography prices, you must first explain to your clients what makes you different as a portrait photographer.

Portrait photography pricing is a tricky subject, and a number on a page doesn’t reflect to your future client what you really offer. Before you talk prices, you must first explain to your clients what makes you different and second find out what their needs are. After you’ve built rapport, you can then share pricing.

4. Forget a Pre-Session Consultation

don't forget a pre-session consultation if you want to sell big photography orders

Make a pre-session consultation a non-negotiable part of your photography selling process.

Forgetting to consult before planning a session is a major mistake. Instead, make a pre-session consultation a non-negotiable part of your process. Once clients feel taken care of (by having a conversation with you), they’ll be more likely to go along with what you suggest, and more likely to invest in wall portraits for their home.

5. Fail to Set Expectations for How Artwork Should Be Displayed Before Session

Failing to Set Expectations for How Artwork Should Be Displayed Before Session will not help you sell more photography orders.

By setting expectations for the right type of artwork for a particular wall, you can encourage your clients to place higher-priced photography orders.

Helping clients understand what they’re getting from a session from you, and where they should plan on displaying it, can go a long way toward increasing your orders. If you don’t talk to clients about above-the-fireplace images, family room gallery walls or canvas wall portraits in kids’ rooms, how can you expect them to buy them? Set their expectations for the type of artwork you will be creating for them during their session BEFORE the ordering appointment. Otherwise you make the mistake of failing to encourage them in placing orders at all.

6. Wing Your Sessions Without a Sales Plan

winging your photography sessions without a sales plan will not land you bigger photography orders

Base every photograph you take on how likely you are to sell a product using that photograph later.

It’s a common problem for photographers to have lots of portrait photography ideas regarding the session itself, and too few regarding sales. But the two are intertwined. Don’t head into your session without a plan for how you will sell each photograph you take. If you end up with a bunch of proofs no one will order, you’ve wasted your precious time, so instead, shoot to sell. Base every photograph you take on how likely you are to sell a product using that photograph later.

7. Assume Clients Will Automatically Place a Large Order

Dont assume that your clients will buy large portrait orders from you

Selling large portrait orders requires you to hold your clients’ hand through out the process..

This is not the case. Most clients will take the CD or jump drive home, tuck it away in a drawer, and never pull it back out. Unless you hold their hand, they likely won’t print those photos out ever. Help make your shoot and sell process effective by holding your clients’ hands through the ordering process and helping them understand why they need beautiful images to pass down through the generations.

8. Put Images Online or Offer Proofs Rather Than Conducting Ordering Appointments

Photography ordering appointments are a critical factor if you want to sell more of your photography.

Your photography clients will invest more if they appreciate your expertise.

You are doing your clients a disservice if you merely print out a bunch of proofs or point them toward an online gallery of images without helping guide them through choosing what they love. We invest more for expertise, and it’s no different for photography. You are helping them invest in the beauty of their home, and you can’t do that by printing proofs and relying on your clients to fumble through the right size, frame, style and so on. Use a 1-hour ordering appointment in which you project their images on the wall so they can see the scale of the art you have created for them and help them pick the right artwork for their home.

9. Sell Digital Files Without Physical Products

Getting larger photography orders means selling physical products and not digital ones

Your beautiful photography is meant to be displayed and seen! By not selling physical product to your portrait clients, you’re cutting your client and yourself short.

Sure, people will buy digital files. For a slight premium, however, you can do all the work for them. That way they’ll end up with a beautiful physical product. If you fail to offer physical products, you cut yourself out of a hefty sales opportunity. Plus, your clients will most likely never print and display your artwork. Since that’s how it was meant to be seen, it is a shame for them as well.

10. Overwhelm Clients with Too Many Choices

Don't paralyze your photography clients with too many portrait options.

When it comes to selling your photography, less portrait order options are better.

Too many options has been scientifically shown to paralyze people and make them unable to choose. Instead of offering a pie-in-the-sky range of portrait order options, pick the fewest number of choices that still fit what most of your clients need, and just offer that. When presented with fewer options, people are likelier to select some of them.

Want to Learn More?

If you’d like to learn my 7 steps to answering the phone so you get book and defeat your fear of the phone forever then download my free guide here.

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We teach portrait photographers worldwide how to build a six figure photography business. How? Through our blog posts, free guides, training webinars and paid online courses at Joy of Marketing, so head to our blog to learn more about how we can help you enjoy your most profitable year yet.