How To Sell Your Photos | 5 Tips from one of the Most Profitable Photographers in America
When I first started photographing clients 18 years ago, I didn’t know the first thing about how to sell your photos.
And it showed!
My portrait orders were embarrassingly small for the amount of work I was doing.
And while I didn’t have any problems finding clients because of my marketing experience at Coca-Cola Enterprises and an advertising agency, I didn’t know what to do to encourage clients to invest in wall images.
If someone had asked how to sell your photos, understanding shooting to sell or how to do in-person sales photography would not have been on my radar.
I assumed if I photographed beautiful images, clients would order them.
I felt like my clients were giving me mixed messages.
They’d tell me they loved the images.
So I envisioned creating beautiful, large wall images for their home.
Instead, once I chased them down to place their order, they choose a few 8 x 10 prints and keep the printed proofs.
I wasn’t making enough from these small orders to pay for childcare for my twins!
I had to do something to increase sales, but I didn’t want to be the pushy, high-pressure salesperson everyone hates.
Around the same time, a good friend of mine got married.
As a gift, I photographed the wedding and gave her a cd of the images.
I thought I was doing her a favor.
She’s a talented graphic designer, so I knew she would create something fantastic with the images.
To this day, she still hasn’t created an album OR printed any wall images of her wedding.
If my friend, a creative graphic designer didn’t do something fabulous with these images I took, then how could I convince a client to print wall images and hang them in their home?
I had to fix something.
And that’s when it hit me and I said to myself, “Sarah, here’s how to sell your photos.”
Within a few months, my average orders TRIPLED because I figured out an in person sales photography system for how to sell your photos without being “salesy”.
I wasn’t serving my clients the right way by giving them proofs and sending them home to make a decision alone.
My clients are busy moms.
‘They don’t need another decision added to their to-do list.
I needed to make the entire photography process a fun experience for them…including the part when I was selling photographs!
Here are 5 tips you can use for how to sell your photos:
1. Book the right client on the phone
Every client isn’t going to be a fit for your photography. And that’s ok. But you need to talk to them on the phone FIRST to determine if they are.
Nothing is worse than pouring your heart and time into an hour long session for the wrong client.
No matter what you do, if you book the wrong client, you’ll never figure how how to sell photos to them.
It’s best to determine upfront if they are right for you, and you can do that with one simple phone call.
When you receive an email inquiry, don’t respond with your prices. Instead, pick up the phone and find out what they need.
I have a specific list of questions I ask during that phone call so that I don’t spend time photographing a client who won’t result in a $1,500 or more portrait order.
Explain what makes you different as a photographer.
The phone is not something to be afraid of. It’s your next paycheck.
2. Have an in-person consultation BEFORE you pick up the camera
Your hair dresser doesn’t start cutting your hair without asking you what look you’re going for.
And a surgeon wouldn’t go into surgery without diagnosing your condition during a consultation.
The in-person consultation is not just about planning the session (what the client will wear, etc.), it’s about YOU figuring out what the client will BUY. This single meeting, when done correctly shows you exactly how to sell photos.
I set expectations during this appointment about what the ordering appointment looks like and show physical samples of my products to determine what a client’s style is.
My in-person consultations last about 30 minutes and are key to getting sales averages over $1,500.
3. Shoot to Sell
Sure, my photography has a distinct style and I love being creative in a session.
But I also need to understand what my client will buy.
The in-person consultation shows me what to shoot so that I make sure I first create wall images the client will purchase.
After I get those shots, I can push my boundaries creatively if there’s time. But first, I shoot to sell and get what I know my clients will invest in.
I walk into every session with a sales plan.
For example, If a client told me they have space in their son’s room for an image of him over his bed, I’m making SURE I get that image because they already told me they would buy it in the in-person consultation. I know what size that space is and if I need to shoot horizontally or vertically.
4. Present your images in-person
You’ll hear lots of opinions on how to sell photos when you attend industry conventions.
When I went to my first convention, I thought in person sales photography was too pushy. Then I decided to give it a try.
Literally, overnight I watched my sales DOUBLE then TRIPLE!
In person sales really is knowing how to sell photos, if you want to increase your portrait orders to $1,500 or more.
When you place your images online in a gallery for your clients to order, you become a commodity. You’re no longer viewed an expert at guiding your clients through choosing wall images for their home. Instead, you’re seen as an order taker.
Hold your clients’ hands through the ordering process, helping them select wall images that they will LOVE hanging in their home.
I create a movie of their images using this photography software.
When I first started using a projector to show clients wall images, I was scared they would be upset because I wasn’t giving them proofs.
The opposite happened!
When clients saw their images HUGE on the wall, they LOVED them.
They understood scale and size and stopped ordering only 8 x 10 prints.
They also valued their time with me as I went through each image with them and gave them ideas of how the art could be displayed in their home.
I also set their images to music when I present them.
Music sets the mood and creates emotion while bringing your images to life. Songfreedom is my go-to source for music for my sales presentations.
5. Less is more
I used to think I needed to show my clients ALL of their images in the sales room.
But by the end of the presentation they were so overwhelmed with the amount of images to choose from they wanted to go home and think about it.
Soon after, I shifted my sales presentation and now I only show 25 or fewer of the top images compared to 50 or more. This helped me nail down my clients order during a 1 hour ordering appointment.
BONUS: ONE TINY thing I did that made a big difference in increasing sales.
Here’s a bonus tip on how to sell your photography.
I make recommendations during an ordering appointment.
After I show my clients all of their beautiful images, I pull up the slide titled “Our Favorites” that has 3-5 images that I love.
The craziest thing happened when I added this slide to my Proselect sales presentations.
How to sell your photos wasn’t a mystery anymore.
People started placing their orders and purchasing the images I recommended in the “Our Favorite” part of the presentation.
This also made it so easy to sell collections.
I picked anywhere from 3 to 9 images and created a collection for them to see.
My clients love it because they can see what it’s going to look like and if they don’t like an image in the collection, I can easily swap it out with another.