Thursday, July 17, 2008

Growing Pains: No Print Sales From Wedding Yet, But Why?

My first wedding and the growing pains I continue to suffer because of it has definitely pinpointed the fact that I need to hone my business skills if "Picture Your World Photography" is going to succeed.

I blogged last week about providing CDs in packaging. This week, I'm having to deal with the fact that no one is buying online prints from the wedding. The presentation went very well and the bride was very pleased with the photos. I'm not sure what the issue is, but I ran into the same problem earlier this year when few people purchased prints from a National Black Skiers association event I covered in January. Given time, I eventually made more than $200 in additional print sales from the NBS event...but it was still confusing considering how many people viewed the images (and continue to do so even months after the event).

My instructor Russ Burden, a veteran photographer, said even he has experienced this same phenomenon. I have posted numerous threads about the issue on the photography forums I frequent, including Digital Photography School and Digital Grin to get some help and explanations. If you have the time, I would suggest reading through these threads, as they are full of great tips from seasoned photographers who have found ways to deal with these issues.

Some people are convinced that online print purchases just don't happen, and if they do, it should be considered "icing" on the cake. To that end, it has been suggested that I need to create a business plan that incorporates print sales into the overall price. For example, $500 was simply too low to charge for the wedding. A more realistic price might have been $1,500 or more (with half or all paid upfront before the wedding) to ensure a profit margin.

I've been doing some research to see how much local wedding photographers charge for their various services and what their packages look like. Few people can afford to pay $3000 for wedding photos, so I really like the idea of creating several types of packages, based on coverage, starting from $750 and up.

I also took a "Managing your Business: Passion and Profits" seminar from Illuminate Photography Workshops several weeks ago to get a handle on the business aspects of photography. Being a good photographer doesn't mean you will have a successful business. Instructor Jim Turley stressed the need for me to create a six month business plan. He is right, and this is exactly the kind of circumstance where having one would have helped me. Instead of getting overwhelmed with trying to create an entire budget, I am going to start with realistic steps to get me through the next six months of my business planning including: nailing an agreement contract, creating service fees and photo packages and passing out all of my business postcards I bought.

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