Selling your work - online or in person?

Selling your work – online or in person?

You’ve done the session. Spent a sleepless night or two editing while the kids are sleeping (welcome to my world) and now you’re ready to share your most recent pride and joy with the clients who hired you to create them. How are you going to share those images and, most importantly, how will they purchase them?

You have two options. You can sell them online (through a proofing gallery) or in person (personal proofing sessions). In my experience and opinion, there are pros and cons to both. Over on my blog this week, I’ve posted about my preference for the in-person proofing session and why I murdered the online gallery. But taking these pros and cons into consideration will help you make up your own mind.

Online Gallery

I know there are many online gallery/shopping cart options for photographers but personally, I’ve never liked them. I’ve never liked how they treat my photos and I have never found one whose ambiance and ‘curb appeal’ has risen to my expectations. So how do I get my photos across to my clients online? I use Lightroom’s web module to create a flash gallery with image numbers and I drop that into the back end of my website via FTP uploader Filezilla. Then, I send my clients an order form and a link to an off-shoot page on my website with supplemental information and images from wall display templates to help them picture the different sizes.

{Pros}

  • Time saving
  • A considerably low pressure sale
  • Ideal if you’re in a market where the family photo session is a common and expected occurrence. For example, in most parts of America, most families consider this a normal yearly event and they expect to purchase their images afterwards. In other places, this is an emerging concept and clients need a bit more hand-holding.

{Cons}

  • Can be pricey if you’re using an online gallery/shopping cart subscription service
  • Impersonal
  • In my experience, lower sales potential
  • You don’t get to see your clients fall in love with their photos which is part of the fun for me!
  • You’re giving them the right to oogle their photos in their own home before they’ve paid for the pleasure.
  • Attention spans are low these days! I’ve found that clients get their fix looking at their photos for 30 days and move on to the next shiny thing that comes their way.

Personal proofing sessions

{Pros}

  • Personal
  • You can help clients by looking at their wall space and suggesting ways to display their images. My clients really value this aspect of my service because, afterall, putting images in their home was the point of their session!
  • Increased sales potential
  • You get to see your clients fall in love with their images.
  • You create a stronger relationship and rapport with your client and this can lead to future work

{Cons}

  • Time consuming. It’s for this reason I have hired a sales person who I know personally to do the job. This came about quite naturally and organically in that she and I think so alike and I really trust that she will represent my brand well.
  • For many type A’s (the artsy photographer) facing the business side and actually asking for the money can be difficult and intimidating. If you (like I) know that you’re not good with this, that might be another reason to hire a sales person. One of my sayings is “if you’re not good at something, hire someone who is!”
  • This can come across as a high pressure sales method. It doesn’t have to, but you have to be careful if you want to avoid this. If the clients are resistant or really want to talk in private to make their decision, I leave them with a business card that has a URL to a 24 hour gallery and advise that additional days cost $_____.

I could list pros and cons forever and ever and I bet you’ve got more I have never even thought of! Overall, making these decisions is just part of forming your business model. Try different things and see what works. In my experience, the in-person sessions are more profitable, even after paying my sales person’s commission and this means I can either make more money or just do less sessions.

How do you approach the after-session sales aspect?

{Click here} to read details about how I run my personal proofing sessions and more about why I prefer this method.

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Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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