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Using Incentives & Deadlines to Close the Sale

Tips & Tricks

Hey guys! Melissa Jill -- Phoenix-based wedding photographer and owner of Align -- here again to continue my series on efficient and profitable album design and sales. I've talked a lot in this series about up-selling -- offering your clients the option to add spreads to their album after the wedding by showing them an ideal design they won't be able to live without. As I've mentioned in past posts, there is a RIGHT and a WRONG way to do this. This post isn't going to make a lot of sense if you aren't caught up on the other posts where I discussed this concept of up-selling and how to do it well. So make sure you get caught up here before reading on: 
Once you present an opportunity to your client to upgrade their album, it is wise to entice them with some incentives for choosing to do so in a timely manner. They are sure to love the ideal album design you send them and want the whole thing. But if they put off the decision to upgrade and the initial excitement wears off, it is unlikely they will decide to do so. They will instead, more than likely, find another place to spend their money.  
When I send an email to my clients with instructions for how to revise their initial album design, I include information on my incentives and deadlines:

I spell out the costs and the deadlines explicitly in an email so they know exactly what their options are. For example:  
"I wanted to give you some info on how to proceed with finalizing your album design. The album you ordered includes 17 spreads. The one I designed you has 30. I did this because you guys had so many great photos and I wanted to show you what your album COULD be. So you can either choose to narrow down the layouts to 17 or upgrade your album by purchasing more layout spreads at $120/spread. If you wanted to purchase the album as it is now, it would cost an additional $1,689.48 (this includes tax). 
I would really love for you guys to have the full album I designed for you, so if you place your order for the full 30 spreads within one month (by May 7th) I'll give you 20% off the cost of upgrading (total due would be $1,351.58). If you place your order for the full 30 spreads within 2 months (by June 7th) I'll give you 10% off the cost of upgrading (total due would be $1,520.53)." 
These incentives and deadlines encourage clients to make a decision quickly, while their excitement for their wedding is still running high. AND they help speed up the decision making process to keep your album turn-around times short. It's a win-win: savings for your clients, and for you: no more albums hanging indefinitely over your head.
And exciting news! If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums without investing hours of guesswork and trial and error -- we have a solution for you! Check out the Album Start-Up Kit and start maximizing your profit today! 

Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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4 Steps to Simplified Album Proofing and Revisions

Tips & Tricks

I think we can all agree that the revision process is hands-down the most painful and arduous part of the entire album production process. At least it can be. Occasionally we get a client who loves the initial design and approves it as-is, but more often than not, there is a good deal of back and forth before the design is approved and ready for ordering.  
Not only am I the owner of Align, but I'm also a Phoenix-based wedding photographer. And I've been through some very ROUGH album revisions. It can be a total headache and drag on for months or even years. 
There are some things we can do as photographers to speed up the revision process and give our clients the best experience possible. I talk about one of them in this post: Speedy Workflow = Happy Clients + Higher Sales. But here are four more: 
1 -- Online Proofing 
I'm a big believer that online proofing is the way to go. You can bring clients into your office, but that takes up valuable time, and it is much easier for them to deliberate over their changes from the comfort of their own home. It's important to find a clean and simple online proofing solution. We at Align use AlbumExposure -- our partner for album proofing -- and we highly recommend them to you regardless of whether or not you outsource your designs to Align. If you DO outsource to Align, here is an example of what your proofing on AlbumExposure will look like:

When you first get your design from us, it will have our logo at the top. But once you push the "accept" button and accept the design into your own AlbumExposure account to send on to your client, our logo will be replaced with your own:

That way, if you'd like, your client doesn't even need to know that you are outsourcing your designs!  
2 -- Clear & Systematized Email Communication About the Process 
It's important that you are crystal clear in your email communication with your client to make sure they understand how the album process will work. We recommend creating email templates that you can use for every client so that the same information is communicated every time and nothing falls through the cracks. (If you're interested in saving some time creating these, we offer 8 pages of email templates that cover every step of the album design and revision process here!) Since I send my clients an initial album design before sending them a link to their entire gallery of images (see this post for more on why), after I get an initial design from Align and use the first round of revisions to tweak it myself, I send an email to my client with a link to the proof and communicate two very important things at this juncture: 
A -- I remind them that we designed their album larger than what they ordered, so they will have some choices to make. (Part of my workflow is that I up-sell my albums. I make sure to educate my clients on this process up front before they even hire me, but it's important to remind them of this at this juncture. Click here to read more about my up-selling strategy!
B -- I let them know that we are still working on getting their full image gallery online so they don't need to worry about making any changes yet. They can just enjoy the design for now and I will be in touch soon with a link to their online gallery and further instructions on revising their design to make it perfect before we place the order. 
3 -- Simple Revision Instructions 
Once the gallery of images is online and the client has had a chance to look at ALL of their images, I send another template email with revision instructions and upgrade costs. In order to make sure the revision process doesn't drag on forever, I set a limit for my clients -- 2 rounds of revisions are included in the cost of their album. So they can type comments in the comment boxes on every spread of the album if they'd like, but once they push, "send comments," one round of revisions is complete. If they need more than two rounds to make their changes, I charge $50 per additional round. I never need to do this, however, because the boundary helps clients use their revisions wisely and thoughtfully.  
The other thing I ask them to do is to help us maintain the integrity of the design by swapping out vertical for vertical images and horizontal for horizontal. That way we don't need to redesign every page -- just make quick and easy image swaps. Clients don't always follow this instruction, and sometimes pages do need to be reconfigured to accommodate the images they want included, but it doesn't hurt to ask, and oftentimes does help simplify the process. 
4 -- Using Align's Hands-Off Workflow 
I can't help but bring up our Hands-Off Service while we're on the subject of making revision rounds easier! We hear from a lot of photographers that they can easily create initial designs using DIY software, but what really bogs them down is the back-and-forth of revision rounds. Hopefully the 3 tips above make that process a bit smoother for you, but if you'd prefer to simply outsource the revision process completely, our Hands-Off Service is THE way to go. For only $10 extra, your Align designer acts like your in-house designer (your client never sees Align's logo!) who communicates with your client directly and walks them through the whole revision process. Say goodbye to your involvement in lengthy revision rounds and picky client requests! Learn more about our Hands-Off Service here. 
And remember -- if you're looking to simplify and streamline your client communication, making the whole album process -- including proofing -- easier on you, you might consider looking into our album workflow email templates. Included are 8 pages worth of email templates for different points throughout your album workflow covering all of the communication mentioned above plus more! They're a huge time-saver and will help you make sure nothing falls through the cracks! 

3 Steps to Simplified Wedding Album Proofing and Revisions
Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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How to cover your album design costs and make a bonus profit!

Tips & Tricks
how to profit from upselling and outsourcing albums

photo credit Melissa Jill Photography 
Hey guys! Melissa Jill -- Align's owner and founder and Phoenix-based wedding photographer here! We've been talking the last couple weeks about how we as photographers should be up-selling our albums and how to do so well. If you've missed out on these conversations, click below to get caught up!  
A Compelling Reason to Up-sell 
3 Tips for Up-selling Your Albums the Right Way 
Today I'm going to continue this discussion about up-selling to share how I myself, and many of our super-star Align clients, have covered their costs for outsourcing their designs to Align (as well as made some serious profit) -- through up-selling. Up-selling and outsourcing are a match made in heaven. Like peanut butter and chocolate. Jeans and t-shirts. Love and marriage. The internet and cat videos. You get the idea. They go together REALLY WELL.  
Here's how I outsource to Align and cover my costs (feel free to skim, I explain in more detail below):

Now there's a little math involved to take this all in, but I'm going to walk you through it. No calculator necessary. Let's say you include an album in your package that is 20 spreads (40 pages). The client has paid for this up front when they book you. When the wedding is over, you send images off to Align super-fast (because speed is key when you're wanting your clients to fall in love with their images and album design) and on your order form, you say you want a design with 28-30 spreads. Because your images are so incredibly amazing, Align designs you an initial design with 30 spreads, to really tell the story of the day in an ideal way. Whereas you would have paid Align $160 to design a 20 spread album, you pay $80 more to take a risk and attempt to up-sell your clients on a larger album. Follow so far? You are paying an additional $80 up front in hopes that your client will love the ideal design and decide to order the whole thing.  
Let's say they DO love it, but they can't afford to upgrade to the full 30 spread design. You are quoting them $120 per spread for the additional 10 spreads over what was included in their package, so that's a hefty fee. Now some clients WILL upgrade and purchase the full upgrade (about 50% of my clients do), but let's say this client can't afford to, and decides to delete some spreads. But they can't part with all of them, so they decide to upgrade by only one spread, deleting 9 spreads and purchasing a 21 spread album. They pay you $120, and that not only covers your $80 risk on the upgrade, but you make $40! Let's say the client deletes 8 spreads from the design and ends up upgrading by 2 spreads. They pay you $240 -- and look at the number under "design 30 spreads" above! -- the outsourcing cost of the entire 30 spread design that you pay Align is that exact same amount! You cover the cost of outsourcing when clients upgrade by just 2 spreads! 
Is that worth the initial risk? ABSOLUTELY.  
Even if 4 out of 5 clients end up not choosing to upgrade at all, but one upgrades to the full 30 spread album, you've covered the cost of the $80 up-selling risk on all 5 designs and profited $800 overall! 
See -- when up-selling and outsourcing get married, beautiful things happen. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! And if you currently up-sell and outsource, I'd love to hear about your experience there too!
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
How to cover your outsourcing costs for album design and make a ton of profit at the same time!
And exciting news! If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums without investing hours of guesswork and trial and error -- we have a solution for you! Check out the Album Start-Up Kit and start maximizing your profit today! 

Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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When Should You Update Your Sample Album?

Tips & Tricks

Showing a studio sample album is crucial to selling albums. Seeing and holding a sample album allows clients to visualize their own album in a way that no amount of description can do! Many photographers understand this and create a studio sample album when they first begin offering album. But as their business progresses, they become unsure of when to update it. So how DO you know when it's time to create a new sample album? 
Here are four indicators that you might need a new sample album: 
1 -- Your style has changed 
Photographers may be entrepreneurs, but we're also artists. As such, our style and skill level develop over time. When you reach a point where the images in your sample album no longer represent your current photography, it's time for an update! For example, when I shifted my photography focus from digital to mostly film, my sample albums no longer reflected my work. I got new sample albums and loved the way they were a reflection of my best, most current work!  
2 -- Your album offerings have changed 
This one might seem like common sense, but it's important! Your sample album is there to provide an example of what you offer. When your clients feel the weight of it, touch the pages, stroke the cover, admire the design -- all of those should be indicative of what their own album would include. So if you change the dimensions, cover materials, etc. of the primary album you offer, you should also get a new sample album to match. This is especially true if you change album companies!  
3 -- Your target client has changed 
As I mentioned in my blog post, How to Choose Which Wedding to Feature in Your Sample Album, your studio sample should feature a wedding in which the details and couple are relatable to your ideal clients. If your ideal client changes -- if you now want to attract clients who are edgier, more traditional, more whimsical, etc. -- those are the kinds of images you should be showing in your sample album. That way when you have those kind of clients in front of you, they will resonate with the work you show them and be more likely to both book with you AND purchase an album.  
4 -- You're tired of your old sample album 
Sharing your passion for albums is so important in helping your clients to value them! Your enthusiasm shines through! Similarly, if you're feeling stale and bored with your sample album, that feeling will come through to your clients, as well. So if you look at your studio sample and feel just "meh", refreshing your sample album is sure to revitalize the way you share albums in client meetings!  
If any of the four indicators above are true in your business, it would be wise to get a new sample album -- one that represents your style and skill level, your album options, and your ideal client ... and that also makes you excited about offering albums! 
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
And exciting news! If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums without investing hours of guesswork and trial and error -- we have a solution for you! Check out the Album Start-Up Kit and start maximizing your profit today! Note: This Kit INCLUDES a beautiful custom designed sample album! 

Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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3 Tips for Up-selling your albums the RIGHT way

Tips & Tricks
tips for how to upsell wedding albums

Hey guys! Melissa Jill -- Align's owner and Phoenix-based wedding photographer -- here again to continue our series on successfully selling albums and pricing for maximum profit. In a recent post, I shared why you should be up-selling your albums and that there is a right and wrong way to do so. Today I'm going to share three tips for doing this the right way. 
1 -- Educate clients up front 
In order to make sure your clients have a great experience with you and your album workflow, you need to be very clear on your process up front. Let them know in your initial client meeting -- before they even hire you -- that you will likely design their album with more spreads than what comes included in their package. Let them know that you do this as a service to them. That right now, it's hard to know how many images they will want in their album since they haven't seen them, and that by designing an album that tells the story of their day in an ideal way, they will have options. Whenever I explain our process in this way to potential clients, they nod in agreement. It makes sense to them and they are on board.  
Another way that I communicate this is in the verbiage of my package and pricing information. Rather than including a specific album in a package, I include an album credit. My album credits are $1,700 or $3,000, and each amount is enough to purchase each of the albums I offer with the minimum number of spreads. So I can point to my Queensberry Duo album (a version of which is pictured above -- this set of albums purchased by my clients was a result of an upsell -- both the couple's album and the parent album ended up with 30 spreads and the client spent a total of $7,500 on their albums alone!) and let them know that the $3,000 credit will cover that album with 16 spreads. But the fact that it is worded in the package as a "credit" indicates that they may choose to spend more on their final album after the wedding. The credit is a way for them to set aside money toward their album pre-wedding with the option to upgrade later.  
2 -- Allow clients to narrow down the design 
Once your client sees the initial design, give them the option to narrow it down by deleting spreads. So in the example above, if I have a Queensberry Duo designed with 25 spreads and the client paid for 16 spreads in their package, they have the option to delete 9 spreads and have no further financial obligation. But at least they are seeing something ideal and given the option to upgrade. Like I mentioned in my last post, many clients do decide to upgrade because they love their images so much. But obviously there should be no obligation to do so. 
3 -- Charge per additional spread 
When you are presenting an option to upgrade, price based on the number of spreads that the client chooses to upgrade by. As photographers, that is what we are charged for by our album company, so we should also charge this way to cover our costs. "How do you figure out how much to charge per spread" you ask? Easy! Divide the price of the album in your package by the number of spreads included for that price, and round. That's your per-spread price for the upgrade. Mine is $100 or $190 depending on the type of album they order. 
These are my three tips for up-selling the right way! If you educate clients clearly up front, give them the option to narrow down the design to just what they ordered, and charge per spread for any upgrades, you will maximize your profit AND your clients will be on board and thrilled with the process!  
Check out my next blog post in this series in which I share how up-selling helps many Align Album Design clients cover their outsourcing costs for album design PLUS make bonus profit! 
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
3 tips for up-selling albums the RIGHT WAY
And exciting news! If you're a photographer who wants to start offering albums without investing hours of guesswork and trial and error -- we have a solution for you! Check out the Album Start-Up Kit and start maximizing your profit today! 

Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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