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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 a home in Phoenix back in 2010. 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.  
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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 have used 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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One thing you must do to serve the high-end client well

Tips & Tricks
One thing to keep in mind if you are a wedding photographer who is considering raising your prices

photo by Alicia Lacey Photography 
Hey guys! Melissa Jill here! I'm the owner of Align Album Design and a former wedding photographer.  
Question for you: Are you seeking to break into the high-end market? To serve a clientele who values the art of photography? To make more money for your time?  
One of the ways to reach these goals is by DOING ALBUMS WELL.  
I've found in my experience as a photographer in the Phoenix market that there is a shift in the type of client around the $3-4K budget range. Back in the day, my studio had 5 photographers total and we served clients with a photography budget ranging anywhere from $2,000 - $14,000. When a client came to us with a budget of less than $3K, one of the first questions out of their mouth was, "Do your packages come with the high res images?" Not only that, but this was typically the only product they were interested in. They figured if they had the images, they could create other products themselves.  
But clients who have allocated over $4K for their wedding photography are a different type of client altogether. They are not nearly as interested in the digital images. Oftentimes when I mentioned that they can include them in their package, they looked at me like, "What would I do with those?" And it seems like the more money people have, the less interested they were in them. Instead, they want something custom, something hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind, something they couldn't create themselves. Over the starting budget of $4K, clients in my market wanted an album. It's their priority and they take it for granted that a custom album is the final end product that they will have to tell the story of their day once their experience with their photographer is brought to completion.
when does a client want the high res images and when do they want an album?

The budget at which this shift occurs in your market may be different than mine, but I guarantee it exists. If we are interested in meeting our clients' needs AND in targeting a specific market, it's important that we as professional photographers are aware of where this shift occurs in our own market and make adjustments based on it.  
One of the adjustments I made when I raised my starting prices above $3K, was I replaced the high res images that I once included in all of my packages (because that's what my clients were wanting) with an album in every package. The album in my lowest package was a low-entry-point album that didn't cost me too much so I was able to keep it reasonably priced for my clients. In reformatting my packages, I still offered the high res images, but only included them in my middle and top packages. My packages were always customizable, so theoretically clients could still take the album out of the package and add the high res images. But I wanted to make sure I was presenting my packages in a way that would meet the majority of my clients' needs AND would show them what I think is most important. (As I mentioned in my last post -- clients will be more likely to prioritize the album for themselves if you are passionate about them and prioritize them on your website and in your initial client meetings.) 
If one of your goals is to raise your prices, then doing albums well is going to be an integral part of making that transition -- because the high end bride wants an album. They want something beautiful and custom and one-of-a-kind. And they want it delivered with exceptional service. They want quality AND service. That's the ticket to their hearts and their referrals.  
It sounds so simple, but while it might be "simple," it's far from EASY. There are SO MANY pitfalls and issues that can arise. But since offering quality albums with exceptional service is a key to reaching the high end bride, it's definitely worth the effort to overcome these obstacles.  
In the coming weeks I will continue to share some tips for doing albums well and setting up your workflow for profitability and efficiency. Make sure to sign up here to receive emails about all of my album sales and workflow tips straight to your inbox! Stay tuned and join in the conversation in the comments below! I'd love to hear what has worked for you!
Wedding Photographers -- do you want to raise your prices? This is one thing to keep in mind!
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 Tips for Getting Your Clients to Value Albums...and buy one

Tips & Tricks

photo by Elizabeth Gelineau 
How many of you wish you could sell more albums? Do you find it difficult to find clients who see the value of an album and are willing to pay the additional cost to include one in their package? 
This has been a dilemma I've dealt with as a wedding photographer as well. What I've found is that if I don't value albums and prioritize them for my clients, they typically won't value them either. If you want to sell albums, you have to prioritize them. Here are a four tips for how to do so: 
1 -- Share your passion for albums with your clients. Let them know that out of all of the products you offer, this is the one YOU most want them to have. After all, a wedding album should be a couple's first family heirloom. It is the one photography product that they can purchase that will stand the test of time. Long after prints are taken off the wall, children are grown, and grandchildren are running around, an album will be there to tell the story of their love for generations to come.  
2 -- Include them in every package. Communicate through the structure of your pricing that the album is the #1 product your clients will want to have.  
3 -- Create a space on your website to share your passion for albums. Here are some tips on how to create a space for on your website. I have done this for my own photography business, and you can view the album page on my website here for inspiration.  
4 -- Talk about your passion for albums during your initial client meetings. You can do this in any number of ways. If you have a personal story about your wedding album or lack-there-of, or your parents' album, and how that experience has shaped how you value albums, these stories from personal experience can be very powerful. Or tell a story about one of your past clients and how their album has been a blessing to their marriage. And then don't pass up the opportunity to show your clients beautiful samples, allowing them to touch and experience each one while you share what you love about them. Click here for my other blog post about tips for introducing albums during your client meetings. 
I believe in the value of a wedding album; I'm passionate about them. And my clients know it. They know it when they look at my website and read about albums. They know it when they see my package info. And they know it when we sit together looking through albums in their initial client meeting. They become excited about their wedding album, in part, because I'm excited about it. 
And you know how I talked about the power of story above? This is my "why" story behind my passion for albums: 
This is a photo I grabbed off of the Instagram feed of one of my past brides, Ashley. She and David were married in 2008 and now have three children. This is their youngest, Carson:

A few years ago, Ashley and I were catching up and she told me a story about what their wedding album meant to their family. She told me that their daughter's "favorite book" is mommy and daddy's wedding album. She regularly asks them to "read" it to her -- to flip through the pages while she sits on their laps, and tell her all about the people in its pages. When they get to the page with mommy and daddy's first dance she always asks her dad if she can dance with him.  
If that doesn't paint a picture of the importance of having a wedding album, I don't know what does. 
I'm convinced in my heart that wedding albums are important. And every married couple should have one. Having this passion and communicating this passion to your clients is step one of selling more albums. 
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4 Tips for Getting Clients to Value Albums -- And Buy One!!
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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