Business + Marketing

How to Boost In-Person Sales with Photo Product Upsells

August 9, 2021

By Jacquelynn Buck

If you’re feeling stuck when it comes to making the kind of money you need to live your best life as a photographer, there are some things you can do to move beyond a digital-only product and boost your in person sales of your photo print products (albums, wall art and more)—even after the photo session or wedding is over! 

Make More Money with In-Person Sales

Whether you’ve done them before or paused for the pandemic, you may or may not be fully comfortable doing in-person sales (IPS). If you have never done IPS, I cannot stress enough that this is likely the best—and maybe only way—to truly make more money post-session or post-wedding. The good news is, there are tons of resources out there that can help you prepare—from Facebook groups like IPS Mastermind to companies like Swift Galleries that teach you how and give you the tools.

[Read: Upselling Albums to Wedding Clients and Playing the Long Game]

If you’re thinking of doing IPS on Zoom, you can virtually share what an image you took looks like in a client’s space, in the size they think they want and compare it to the size that really is the best fit. White House Custom Colour (WHCC) has an iPad app called Studio that can help you sell any product. Fundy Designer does as well. These and other companies allow you to take photos of your clients’ homes and walls and impose your images on them virtually in the correct proportion and size. Genius!  

© Jacquelynn Buck

You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Show

I am 100 percent on board with this expression. I do IPS and have adapted to Zoom for the current climate and I still show what I want to sell. When it comes to selling products after the session, or after the wedding, showing a client not only what you offer but also having some way for them to understand size and spatial orientation of that product is essential.

[Read: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating All-Day Elopement Packages]

How often have you heard a client say, “I want a big print—you know, an 8 x 10—for my wall”? Most clients don’t actually know what an 8 x 10 looks or feels like in the space they have in mind—until you show them.

I’ll never forget that first “ah-ha” moment I observed one of my customers having when I held a physical 8 x 10 print up over my own couch and asked them if they were sure an 8 x 10 would be big enough. Eyes wide, the answer was no. Definitely not. They ended up with a 20 x 30. I would not have been able to make that sale had I not shown them the difference between what they thought they wanted and what ultimately was going to make them happy.

[Read: How to Boost Print Sales for Wedding and Portrait Photos]

Showing what you want to sell also means showing product images on your website. When a client goes to your website’s home page, the printed product you want to sell should be something they see there—whether it’s images of albums and printed or framed pieces hanging on walls or reading your story and why you believe in the value of the printed product. The client should know from the start that you offer something other than, or in addition to, a digital image.

Do Your Research

If you plan to add physical products like albums, prints and wall art to the repertoire of what you sell, it’s important to find a lab you love where you trust the products, and invest in at least one sample of everything. Sometimes this can be cost prohibitive, but many labs offer sample pricing to help offset this cost or run sample sales so you can build your product line.

If you can make it happen, invest in three to five different sizes so you have them available to view and make comparisons.

In-Person Sales: Plant the Seed Immediately

Jacquelynn Buck offers a range of photo print products—including wall art and albums.
© Jacquelynn Buck

If you want to make more money from product sales, I suggest talking about products with your clients from the moment of inquiry. If you have images of printed products on your websites, that will be their first introduction to the concept. But if they haven’t seen that, or you don’t have that currently, it’s important to talk about your products in the first phone call, email or text message.

You can do this by telling them about the printed products and packages you offer in addition to digital products. Or you can ask them what they are thinking they would ultimately like to have as a product from their photo session. If they say “digital images” or “I don’t know,” have a few questions on hand to ask them like:

  • “Do you like to print images yourself or have someone do the work for you?”
  • “Do you have any photos currently hanging on your walls or framed photos in your house?”
  • “What kind of space are you hoping to decorate with these photos?”
  • “Have you ever purchased an album or thought about an album as a keepsake?”

Questions like this can start a conversation and plant the seed for the client that you offer products. Even if you offer digital images, you can always discuss the benefits of printed products with clients.

Here’s something else you might try: 

“I absolutely offer a digital package, but I have found that many of my clients love my packages that offer a combination of printed products and digital images because then I do all the hard work for you—final edit, quality check, order from a professional printing lab where I know the color is going to be exactly what I want it to be and deliver it right to you. You don’t have to do anything except hang it on the wall or put it in a frame!”

Another way to go is to say, “I often hear from new customers that the last time they worked with a photographer and only received digital images, they didn’t do anything with them and don’t even know where they are right now! While I totally understand that we live in a digital age, I also want to be able to offer you a high quality product you can pass down from generation to generation.” And then I tell a story about my mother’s wedding album, and how it’s the only thing I have left from her wedding day, and I still cherish it—all true.

If the client really is interested in wall art, you can ask them to text you a few photos of the space in their home they are hoping to decorate with photos, and then you’ll have something to work with when you’re showing them their images. More on that in a moment!

Continue to Nurture the Photo Print Products Seed

If you have had the conversation ahead with the client about printed products, you can continue to discuss the products with them while you’re shooting. When you take that big family group photo you can say something like “Oh this is the one you’re going to want for your wall” or when you’re capturing the third clothing change for that high school senior you can lean over to Mom and say, “We’re getting so many great photos; this would be awesome in an album!”  

Planted + Nurtured = $$$

photo albums are among the products Jacquelynn Buck upsells in in person sales sessions.
© Jacquelynn Buck

If you’ve planted and nurtured the printed product seed, the last piece is actually selling to the client without making them feel sold to. If you’ve done the legwork ahead, it should be smoother sailing, but even if you haven’t, here are some tips you can try:

Imagine you’re showing your client 50 images from their family session. You can say something like “I have about 50 images to show you and I was thinking that these would make a great album—that way you can have as many as you want!”

[Read: How to Price and Structure Senior Portrait Packages]

Or, “This was my absolute favorite image I took of your family and I want to show you what it might look like hanging on the wall.” Now, this gets tricky if you’re just sending galleries over email, but even if you are, you can always attach an image of the best photo overlaid onto a photo of a wall in someone’s home. 

If your client has texted you photos of the space in their home they are hoping to decorate, you can overlay the best photo onto their wall and show that to them and make a bigger impact. If you’re doing IPS in your studio, or even over Zoom, you can show these images during your presentation. 

If you’re just sending a gallery, you can add images like this to the gallery. However you do it, you will have more success if you show them what an image would look like on their wall. In person or over Zoom, you can also show albums, canvas and other wall art, or show them the size difference between an 8 x 10 and a 20 x 30. Zoom is, admittedly, more difficult for this kind of show and tell, but it’s possible. I know because I am doing it!

I offer printed and digital combination packages, and I offer print only packages, and print and album packages to my clients. I share this information with them ahead of the shoot and during the review, and I show them samples either in person or on Zoom. If I am in person, I lay out the canvas samples in multiple sizes, and do the same with the albums, before they walk into my viewing space. I have three tiers of albums and three different sizes in each tier, and I stack them all side by side. I also have a series of printed photos in various sizes that I keep handy, along with a yardstick, to show and share sizing comparisons.

Where to Make the Most Money—Photo Prints, Albums, Wall Art

photo products for in-person sales includes photo albums
© Jacquelynn Buck

Selling photo print products to your clients can seem cumbersome and far more difficult than simply delivering a digital image. And it’s true: a printed product is probably more work for us! We have to design, order, quality check, and deliver. But you ultimately might make more money this way because printed products are limited; unless a client is being dishonest and scanning or taking pictures of printed pictures and reproducing them, you have the opportunity to sell a printed product to a client more than once. Once you’ve sold the same client the rights to the digital image, you can’t sell that same image to the client, or someone from their family, ever again. Here’s some math to help:

Imagine you have a family that you’ve taken photos for and they love image 0001. You sell only digital right now, so you sell them that image for $50. They now can go and print that image and do whatever they want with it—make it a 20 x 30 on their wall, a 5 x 7 for Aunt Sally, an 8 x 10 for grandma. You make $50 from this transaction. Once. What if you didn’t sell them the digital image but instead sold them the 5 x 7 for $40 and the 8 x 10 for $60 and the 20 x 30 for $300? You have now made $400, less than whatever it costs you to print the product. (I am not counting editing time in this, as you must edit the image regardless.) What if you photographed the session in July but come December the client wants to order two more 8 x 10s for their family as gifts? That’s another $120. Now you’ve made $520 from one image instead of $50. Which seems better?

You might be saying to yourself, But the client always wants digital! If you want to be the yes person, you can say “Yes, I offer digital packages and a digital image comes with any print or album order over $500.” If the client buys a $500 printed wall art product from you, you can include the mid-resolution digital image for them along with it. Maybe you offer a package where the client spends a certain amount of money on printed products and earns digital images with every increase in dollar amount spent. However you do it is fine as long as it works for you. 

[Read: Building an Associate Photo Team: How to Price and Package What You Offer]

If you’re already knee-deep in client sessions and weddings for 2021 and aren’t ready to switch over to upselling photo print products beyond what the client has agreed to, you can dip your toe in with more passive income.

Imagine you’ve done a wedding, or a family session, in the spring. Now it’s the fall and the holiday rush is imminent. You can send emails to all your spring weddings and clients offering albums or printed products for holiday gifts. If a family client or couple hasn’t done anything with the images they purchased from you and is running out of time, they may buy prints or an album from you to gift. You can spin it as a special, limited time offer. You can offer a discount. You can offer a buy one get one.

Whatever you do, talk about the value of time. Impress upon them that they are running out of time for the holidays and should let you do all the work to create timeless gifts for them. You can also do this on banner days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Small Business Saturday—or all three! You can do the 12 days of Christmas or the 8 days of Hanukkah and give some kind of printed product discount each day. You can do this mid-summer (typically my slowest season since I live in Tucson and it’s a desert) or any time of year to get quieter periods with your business. Hone your in-person sales, get creative and make more money year-round!