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How To Choose Which Wedding To Feature In Your Sample Album

Tips & Tricks
Align Legacy Books studio sample album

Hey there, fellow photographers! Melissa Jill here, pro-photographer and founder of Align. I know I've mentioned before how VITAL it is to share our passion for albums with our clients. More specifically, I've talked about how important it is to give our clients a tangible experience by letting them hold a sample album and leaf through the pages.  
The truth is, if we want to sell albums, we have to show them! There is great power in studio sample albums. They hold the potential of taking an engaged couple from "mmm ... no thanks" to "umm -- YES PLEASE!"  
While I've touched on 5 features every sample album should include, you might still be wondering which of your sessions would be the best to use for your sample album.  
Today I am going to break down the top 5 elements to consider when choosing which wedding or portrait session to feature in your sample album!  
1 - Feature a favorite.  
Duh, right? You know the wedding or portrait session that has you swooning long after the day is over? The one that keeps you up at night because you are so excited about all the details and the beautiful light and how perfectly you feel you captured the love from beginning to end? That's the one! After all, you want to capture more of these types of sessions, right?  
2 - Tell a story.  
As a wedding photographer, rarely do I have a wedding where I love my photography from each portion of the day. From getting ready to portraits to the ceremony and the reception... pick a wedding (or portrait session) where you love the photos throughout the entire day so that you can tell a compelling story through the design. 
3 - Feature clients who are relatable.  
The goal is for your potential client to actually SEE themselves in your images. You want them to be able to imagine themselves in the pictures and to vividly create their own wedding experience in their minds as they flip through the pages. So feature a wedding in which the details and the couple might be relatable to the clients you ideally want to attract. 
4 - Include a popular venue. 
Consider picking a wedding or portrait shoot that showcases a popular venue in your local area. If a client you are meeting with is getting married at said venue or is considering it, think of how persuasive it would be to see the location showcased in such a visually appealing way! And even the clients who are NOT getting married there will probably be familiar enough with the venue to subconsciously feel a sense of connection to it. 
5 - Show emotion.  
Choose a session from which the portraits are emotionally moving. Appealing to the emotional side of your clients increases the chances they will be drawn into the album and be moved to include one in their package. 
Hopefully as you read through these thoughts, the perfect wedding or portrait session came to mind for your next sample album. I hope you're excited to move forward and get that sample made! 
To see a wedding I recently chose to feature in my own sample album, click here!  
Also, to help even further with your sample album needs, we've created this Resource List for the Top 10 Most Popular Album Companies used by Align clients, along with testimonials from photographers who use each of them. Also included on the list is a general idea of what each company charges for a standard 10x10 album. You can download it for FREE today by clicking here and signing up for an account with Align -- no order necessary! Or if you already have an existing Align account and want a copy of this resource guide, you're welcome to email us for a copy.

5 elements to consider when choosing which wedding to feature in your studio sample album
Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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5 Features Every Sample Album Should Include

Tips & Tricks
What every professional photographer should include in a sample wedding album

photo by Paige Vaughn Photo 
As we all know, the #1 pre-requisite to selling to SHOW them! After all, you can't sell what you don't show
But, what is the best way to show albums? What features must your sample album have in order to win the hearts of your clients and get them to say YES to their very own album, you ask? I've created a short list of 5 things that I consider essential to include in the sample albums you share with every potential client walking through your doors.  
1 -- Show off your cover options. 
Your sample albums should showcase your favorite cover option(s) you have available. This will simplify the decision making process for everyone who holds one of these albums in their hands. The real benefit of a sample album is that it allows clients to touch and feel it and see what they could expect from their own album.  
2 -- Be intentional with the album size. 
The albums you showcase should be the size and dimensions you most hope your clients will choose. The most popular dimensions for albums designed through Align are 10x10 or 12x12, so that's a great place to start. Clients are not very good at envisioning other options. They would prefer to point at one option among a few and say, "I want that," knowing that what they see is what they are going to get. 
3 -- Highlight one wedding. 
Each sample album should focus on one wedding and tell the story of that one day. I've written a separate post about how to choose which wedding to feature in your sample album. Featuring one wedding is more ideal than showcasing a sampling of your favorite images from a number of weddings. This approach is more true to the anatomy of an album and what they can expect from their own wedding album. It also allows you to showcase your story-telling ability throughout one wedding day, which brings us to tip #4! 
4 -- Tell a story. 
The album should tell the story of a wedding day from start to finish, full of details and moments that will draw your potential clients into the story emotionally. That will allow you to share your passion for albums during the meeting and again, help your clients to see what their own wedding album could be like. 
5 -- Keep it simple.  
Clean, simple, timeless design is key! Being intentional and selective in what you include in a sample album allows your images to stand apart and be appreciated as art. Your images themselves are interesting. You don't need to make your sample album design overly complex to create a beautiful album. Let the images shine and be your resume for potential clients!  
Having an album you are excited to share with your clients at their initial meeting will only help enhance your passion for the product. When you are excited about the very product you hold in your hands, are proud of the work featured within, it will show! When you believe in the quality of the work that went into designing it and are touched by the story held within it...your client will be that much more likely to say YES to an album of their very own!
I hope you've found these tips helpful!  
----------> If you are overwhelmed with design and want to give outsourcing a try, click here to find out more about the design styles that Align offers. We have 3 standard design styles but can definitely customize to meet most needs. So don't hesitate to send us examples of designs you like and let us know what your preferences are, and we will design to those specifications. After you take a look at our design styles to find out which one would work best for you, click here to sign up for a free account with Align. When you do so, we'll send you a free welcome gift -- our "Top 10 Most Popular Album Companies" Resource List. That way you can find out which album printing & binding companies are the most popular among photographers who use Align, and more importantly, WHY. We'd love to be a part of creating beautiful heirloom albums for your studio and clients!
What every professional photographer should include in a sample wedding album!
Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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The #1 Key to Selling Albums

Tips & Tricks
the #1 key to selling more wedding albums

The number one rule in album sales is:
the number one rule in wedding album sales

If you want to sell albums, you have to show clients physical studio samples. This can be a tough pill to swallow when albums run anywhere from $300 - $1,200 in costs for the photographer. And that's just the printing and binding. That doesn't take into consideration the costs and time investment in getting it designed and ordered. Yes, studio sample albums are an investment. But they are an investment that will pay off. 
A few years ago I decided to start offering Queensberry Duo albums as an option for my high end clients. These albums are gorgeous -- high end mat paper surrounds images that are inset in the pages, and images can even be mounted flush to the edge of the page. So it is a more contemporary version of a matted album combining both matted and flush-mount features into a high end custom product. The album I chose to offer is 18x10 inches horizontal with a dark brown micro-leather fabric. The cover material is so soft, I am tempted to use it as a pillow. The album is INCREDIBLE. But it's not cheap. The studio sample I wanted to get was over $1,000. Yikes! Not only does that money come out of my bank account, but that means I have to charge my clients $3,500 for an album of its kind. All sorts of fears went through my head. What if no one else loves it as much as I do? What if my clients don't see the value and aren't willing to pay the high price tag?

I swallowed my fears and took the leap. I ordered my studio sample and said a prayer right before my first client meeting in which it rested on the ottoman in my office. Kari, the bride, came in and we started out the meeting chatting about her upcoming wedding. When it came time to share my two album options, I showed her the standard, lower-priced album that comes in all of my packages, then I showed her the Duo. I explained its features and told her the price. She fell in love with it as she turned each of the textured mat pages and felt the micro-leather. At the end of the meeting she told me that she didn't have the budget for the Duo but that she wanted to see if she could move some things around to be able to increase her photography budget and include it in her package. And that's just what she did.  
The expensive Duo is not for everyone, but it does appeal to a certain segment of my clientele. And if they see it and love it, they are often willing to increase their budget, even though they never intended to spend $3K on a wedding album when they first walked into my office.  
You can't sell it if you don't show it. But if you DO show it, you might be able to sell something that your clients didn't even realize they couldn't live without until they touched it. That's the power of a studio sample album. 
Not sure where to start with creating a sample album? Read up on 5 features that should be included in every sample album in order to win the hearts of your clients and get them to say YES to their very own album! 
To help even further with your sample album needs, we've created this Resource List for the Top 10 Most Popular Album Companies used by Align clients, along with testimonials from photographers who use each of them. Also included on the list is a general idea of what each company charges for a standard 10x10 album. You can download it for FREE today by clicking here and signing up for an account with Align -- no order necessary! Or if you already have an existing Align account and want a copy of this resource guide, you're welcome to email us for a copy.
the top 10 best album companies for printing and binding wedding albums

Take the leap. Invest in sample albums. Make them beautiful, unique, and exactly what you would want if you were a bride or groom. Then show them to your potential clients and see the investment pay off.
The #1 key to selling more albums
Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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How many album options should I give my clients?

Tips & Tricks
I once learned a valuable lesson in sales when I was remodeling my house.  
I purchased my current home eight years ago. When I bought it, the family room looked like this:

I had a bunch of plans for fixing it up, including new wood flooring, new trim, fixing up the built-in, and covering the fireplace hearth in brick. Now if you've ever been through a home renovation, you know how exhausting it can be and how many endless decisions you have to make. In many ways, it's like planning a wedding. You don't have a whole lot of experience or knowledge of the industry, but you need to make gazillions of choices that will impact the end result you get to live with for a long time to come. No pressure :).  
Being the efficient and decisive person I am, I wanted to work through my checklist and get the process moving. One day I took my mom along with me to a local brick store to pick out the brick for the fireplace. I knew I wanted a basic red brick that might look like it was original to my 50s ranch home. I figured I could be in and out of that store in 20-30 minutes tops with one less thing on my list. We walked into the small store that wasn't much bigger than the family room I was remodeling, and found ourselves alone with the store manager. He was friendly and talkative. On all of the store walls hung one-by-one foot samples of various brick styles:

I filled the manager in on my project in hopes that he could help direct me to the best options for me. As I looked at the brick, attempting to envision them on my fireplace hearth, the manager continued to chat, giving me more and more options. It was clear that he was excited. This guy loved his job and was completely geeked out on all things brick. I loved his passion, but as I was browsing, I felt my blood pressure begin to rise as he piled on the options. I did everything but say the words "I'm sharing all of this with you so that you will help me make a decision," but he wasn't picking up the hints I was dropping. In the end I left the store feeling overwhelmed and confused. I had walked into that store that day fully expecting to give them my money. Instead, I walked out empty handed. The way that store manager had directed his passion and excitement for his specialty had unknowingly cost him a sale.  
A few days later I did go back to that brick store. But I put my blinders on, didn't talk to the manager, and picked out some brick in minutes. I was bound and determined. And this was the end result of my remodeled family room:

This experience taught me that customers don't want too many options. They look to the experts for help in narrowing down those options.  
As a wedding photographer, I am excited about wedding albums. I go to trade shows and geek out on all of the paper and cover options. I love to feel and touch them. But even though WE are excited about albums, it behooves us as photographers to realize that our clients aren't nearly as passionate about them. They want a great album to cherish for their lifetime, to be sure, but they want to be able to see what they are looking for, point to it, pay for it, and cross one more thing off their list.  
If we want to increase our album sales and serve our clients well, we need to make choices easier on them. Just because the album company I use gives me 5 paper options, 10 cover options and 5 album styles, doesn't mean I have to pass all of those options on to my clients. If I were to do so, I would be putting up an obstacle to a sale and unnecessarily complicating my clients' lives. Instead, I have picked out one album size, one cover option and one paper type that I LOVE from my album company, had a sample album created with it, and that is one of the two options I give my clients. The other option is a completely different album from another company -- again with one size, one paper type, and one cover option. That way my client has two choices and can point to one or the other. If they ask for more options on the cover or size of the album, I can always offer those. But I only do so if they ask. Typically they don't. They fall in love with one of the two options, point to it, and sign the contract. DONE. 
In your album sales process, make choices easier on your clients by picking what YOU love and showing it to them. Offer one or two options. They will love you for walking them through a world that is foreign to them and for being the expert that guides them to exactly what they are looking for.  
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
the number of album options you should give your client in order to close the deal
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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How to pick an album company

Tips & Tricks
Align Legacy Books

We get questions all the time from photographers (especially those who are just starting to offer albums to their clients) about which album companies we recommend. Choosing an album company for printing and binding can be a daunting task. After all, there are more than 100 out there to choose from -- all with numerous album styles and options. It's completely overwhelming -- where does one even START!? 
There are two suggestions I have for finding a good album company to partner with: 
1 -- Ask other photographers who are further along in their journey who they would recommend. Chances are, they've got some experience with a number of companies and can tell you some pros and cons about each that might end up saving you valuable time and money. 
2 -- Do some research at trade shows. Trade shows like WPPI are a great place to touch, feel, and compare various products like albums. I believe I counted over 20 album companies represented on the WPPI trade show floor. Because albums are so tactile, it's helpful to be able to see and touch them in order to get a sense for their quality and whether or not they will appeal to you. 
When you are talking with other photographers or with representatives from various album companies at a trade show, there are two things I would be on the look-out for when it comes to album companies:

By and far, these are the top two things I look for in an album company. I want to offer my clients a good quality product that will stand the test of time, and I want a hassle-free experience when I place my album orders. Oftentimes you can assess the quality of an album by handling it at a trade show, but the only way I've found to get a sense of what kind of customer service I can expect from a company before using them is to talk with their current or past clients. That's where talking with other photographers who have tried out various companies comes into play. From my experience, photographers are usually more than happy to either rave about their favorite company, or out a company for sub-par service. 
Since I fall into the category of the aforementioned photographers, I'm happy to share with you the two companies that I currently use for my albums: 
Align Legacy Books (Pictured Above) 
Queensberry has amazing quality and customer service. But it comes with a price. And I'm a little biased about our books we offer here at Align, but I think it's telling that I also offer them to my high end photography clients and they LOVE them! They are more moderately priced than Queensberry, so more accessible to more of my clients. I love being able to offer two very different types of albums. Click here to see a full blog post featuring my Queensberry and Align Legacy Book Sample albums! You can even click through the full designs at that link! 
I think it's also helpful to see which album companies are most popular among Align clients. We've created a Resource List for the Top 10 Most Popular Album Companies used by Align clients, along with testimonials from photographers who use each of them. Also included on the list is a general idea of what each company charges for a standard 10x10 album. You can download it for FREE today by clicking here and signing up for an account with Align -- no order necessary! Or if you already have an existing Align account and want a copy of this resource guide, you're welcome to email us for a copy.

I hope you've found this helpful! If you are reading this post and have a favorite company, please share why you love them in the comments below!
Where do you start with all the options? Tips for how to pick an album company.
Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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