I’ve always run my portrait business a little different (and yet still successfully) than your “normal” business model – instead choosing to charge a flat fee, and offer online print sales after the fact. My clients are busy people, and I’m not a pushy sales person by nature; thus my business model to offer my clients everything they need up-front and offer print orders in the convenience of their homes (via online galleries). It’s taken me almost a decade to find an online gallery host that I LOVE – and just over a year ago I discovered Pixieset. I can truly say that I found a company that has ALL the features I love – wrapped up in a beautiful presentation that is easy for myself, and most importantly, my customers to use.
I was asked by Regina, “I recently purchased your Dream Clients workshop & you mentioned that you upload client photos to an online gallery to select which photos they want verses doing IPS [In Person Sales]. I was wondering how you do this? I’m afraid clients will just take the photos (Even with a watermark) and not order prints/products. Any advice or suggestions?”
Here are a few of my tips and advice for those of you who choose to offer online sales – or just a gallery in addition to your in-person sales. I offer my prints to my clients in this way, because it is what I choose to do and find works best for me and my business practices.
Edit all your photos before sharing online – I have always offered this piece of advice and swear by it. No matter what, everything I release onto the webverse has been given that “Michelle Moore” touch. Everything a client sees is going to be presented in it’s final state. Even if you watermark (see next tip) clients might screen shot, and I want to be absolutely certain that if an image is shared, it will be a proper representation of my work.
Watermark – Put your proof stamp across all images in your gallery. Be obvious, but not obnoxious. You want your logo and the words “proof” or “do not copy” across the images, but still in a way so that your clients can see their images. This strongly discourages sharing, but doesn’t get rid of it completely (which is why I refer back to tip one)
Educate your clients – In your contract and communication, educate and gently remind clients that it is not okay to screen shot or share your proofs. This comes down to you, and making sure your clients understand why this is not okay. Education is key – and will make for happy clients and photographers! On another note, allow your clients to choose (or purchase) web-versions of their favorite images that they can share at their will. This will dramatically reduce illegally sharing of watermarked images. Just include your logo in the bottom right corner and enjoy the benefits of free advertising (and really happy clients!)
Make your sales up-front – Finally, if you are like me and hate pushing print sales upon people, make sure you price your packages to cover your business earnings up-front. I would much rather give my clients everything they need and allow them to purchase what they want – than force them to buy a huge print package. My clients are so busy they don’t want to come back for an in-person sale – so I let them (and their family around the US) order from the comfort of their home. I just find it to be all around a better scenario for me and my clients!