I perosnally don't sell Digital Files from my Senior Sessions. Files can be purchased or earned only after I first sell products.
Below are my thoughts on the subject. Some of it might be helpful, other points might sound harsh but my goal is to help educate. I hope you take my thoughts from a point of education and experience and not in a negative way.
1. Don't Worry About The Person Down The Road Who Is Selling Digital Files
You can only control what YOU are doing. If you feel you are losing clients to them it probably has nothing to do with them selling files. Take a look at your business and photography skills. Maybe there is room for improvement.
Harsh but true! I have invested thousands of dollars and endless amount of time learning and improving my business and photography skills.
Every year I add to that knowledge by investing more. It’s an ongoing process to get better and stay relevant. The day I stop learning is the day I put down my camera.
2. Not Everyone Appreciates Photography.
Some will just go to the cheapest person. You have to get in front of those who do appreciate your work. Work on your marketing to attract those clients.
Many times my best clients aren’t wealthy, but they see the importance of good quality and save to afford it.
3. Have An Answer And Sell The Experience.
Back in the day people would call and ask what the price of an 8x10 is, today the tide has turned to “Do you sell the files?” You know they are going to ask, so script out a good response.
What I have found is that people are just asking because they have no idea what else to ask. Turn the conversation to the experience of what you will provide to take price out off the forefront.
I also ask why they want digital files. Most don’t even know. My response is that as a professional photographer I feel I am doing you a disservice if I only give you the files. I sell prints, albums and wall portraits first to ensure you have an heirloom, artistic image to enjoy forever.
Social media files and digitals can be earned based on your order investment. Almost everyone agrees and books with me. If they don’t and just want the files then they aren’t my clients.
This is how you start to build a client base who doesn’t question pricing at all. They come to you because you take care of them and give them a killer experience.
The little things go a long way. How much time have you wasted on clients who don’t appreciate your worth? What if you used that time to wow a client who does appreciate your worth? Think of what you can do to make them rave about you to others.
4. If You Are Transitioning From Selling Digital Files To Selling Prints And Doing In Person Sales You Will Lose Clients.
I can guarantee this; I’m not going to lie. It will be hard on you and you will question why you switched. That feeling will change when you start seeing much larger sales and notice that your clients are less picky. You will also notice that with fewer sessions, you have more time with your family and you end up making more money. This will take some time, be brave, it will pay off in the long run.
The reason you are losing clients is because you have attracted them mostly on price. It is important that you take your time and explain to your existing clients why you are switching things up. Show them beautiful prints and albums and explain that you’d like them to have these as memories and not just a disk of images that will get stuck in a desk drawer.
Those who leave you because of this change just don’t get it or they never appreciated your art in the first place. If you built a strong relationship, they will stick with you. They will find a way to afford you. If they see the value in you, they will find a way to afford you. If not refer to point #2 :)
5. Running A Photography Business Is Not Easy And If You Are Only Selling Digital Files You Will Find Out Soon That You Can't Make A Living In Photography.
I probably spend 10% of my time actually taking photos; the other 90% is all business. Many of us got into photography because it’s super fun. The harsh reality is if you want to make a living doing it, you have to do a whole lot of business stuff as well.
We all want to learn OCF, composites, montages, etc. but we need to also learn how to sell that stuff.
That is why I try to not only show you how to create things, but also educate you on how to sell your photography.
Plus, I take pride in trying to find easy ways to create images that stand out without taking a ton of time. Time is money in business! Learn to outsource things that others can do. Places like Rebooku can save you a ton of time in retouching, image extraction and album design.
Use that extra time to market to your past clients.
Offer a free family season to every senior who books with you, then take time to follow up with them to get them booked. They already believe in you, it’s much easier to get them to book a family session then it is to go and market to brand new prospects.
I really don’t think anyone would complain if you gave all your past Senior clients a call or email and offered a free family session because you said they were a valued client. Call them now and get them on the books around spring break when the family is together!