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5 Minute Trick to Ensure Faster Album Finalization

Tips & Tricks
Align Legacy Book

Ok photographer friends -- let's get real. This is a safe place. Our clients don't read this blog. So let's hash it out. What is the longest you've gone between a wedding and placing the album order? Months? Years? 
 
If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that I am not only the Founder of Align, I'm a wedding photographer as well. And friend -- I'VE BEEN THERE! Boy, have I ever! 
 
I've been shooting weddings for 2 decades, and I've got some stories :). In 2007 I shot a wedding for a sweet couple. He was in the military, she looked like Barbie. The wedding was great and everything went smoothly. But I had a hard time getting ahold of them after the wedding. They had included an album in their package, and by then I was pre-designing. So I sent them a link to the design like I normally do with instructions for revising and approving it. Nothing. No email response. I followed up. Still nothing. Six months went by, I called to leave a voicemail since email was unproductive. The bride's voicemail box was full. A year later I FINALLY received an email from the bride letting me know they'd had some medical issues in the family but that she was committed to finalizing the album in the next week. That's the last time I've heard from her.  
 
It's been 15 years.  
 
This sweet couple never received their wedding album and I'm sad about that. Sometimes life gets crazy and getting back to your photographer after the wedding gets pushed lower and lower on the priority list. If that couple were to come back to me today I would be obligated to produce a wedding album for them. At the time I had nothing in my contract pertaining to this type of situation. But I've learned my lesson. Let's say that couple did come back to me in 2022 and asked me to produce their album. My costs have gone up since then. My album company has raised their prices many times over since 2007. But that wouldn't matter. I would need to fulfill my end of our agreement without any additional charges to cover my costs. 
 
So I'm guessing I have you all beat with this story. But I know it's all too common for photographers to wait on clients for months and even years to be given the thumbs up to order their album. I have one stellar tip for you that will take you 5 minutes to implement and you won't run into this issue ever again. It is a two-step process: 
 
1 -- Add a clause to your contract with these words (feel free to copy and paste -- this is exactly what is in my contract): 
"The client is responsible for finalizing their album design no later than 6 months after their wedding. After 6 months, if the album design is not finalized by the client, the base price of the album will increase by $500. If after one year the album design is not finalized, the base price of the album will increase by another $500." 
 
2 -- Add a task to your calendar to email the client 5 months after the wedding, letting them know they have one month left to finalize their design and referencing this clause.  
 
Done.  
 
The purpose of this clause is not to get more money out of your client. The purpose is to motivate them to finalize their album so you can get it ordered for them in a timely manner. Since I added this clause to my contract years ago I've never once had to charge my client the additional money. But I have had many people go right up to that 6 month deadline. The magical thing is that no one goes over and I have no albums hanging over my head from years past.  
 
It's human nature -- we all operate better with fixed deadlines. Do yourself and your clients a favor -- give them one. Rather than following up endlessly, follow up one time with a deadline that motivates action. Then sit back and experience the freedom and peace of not having album orders hanging endlessly over your head. 
 
 
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5 minute trick to faster album finalization -- no more albums hanging over your head for months and years!
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! 

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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Using Incentives & Deadlines to Close the Sale

Tips & Tricks

Hey guys! Melissa Jill -- pro 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: 
 
WHY UP-SELLING ALBUMS SERVES OUR CLIENTS 
3 TIPS FOR UP-SELLING YOUR ALBUMS THE RIGHT WAY 
HOW TO COVER YOUR ALBUM DESIGN COSTS AND MAKE A BONUS PROFIT! 
 
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! 

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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 pro 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!
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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! 

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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 retired 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! 

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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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Why up-selling albums serves our clients

Tips & Tricks

Hey guys! Melissa Jill -- wedding photographer and Founder of Align -- here! I've been sharing over the past months some of my experiences and tips on album sales and workflow that have allowed me to really build an efficient and profitable workflow and serve my clients well. Today I wanted to step into some really exciting territory -- the topic of up-selling. 
 
If you've never considering up-selling your albums, you should. Up-selling can be done well or it can be done poorly. When done professionally and for the right reasons, up-selling can be a great service to our clients and increase our profit. 
 
The reason we should up-sell albums to our clients is that we want them to have an ideal, gorgeous family heirloom. We know that in order for them to have the album of their dreams, it will need to be larger than what we can reasonably expect to sell them before we show them any photos of their wedding. We can show them a beautiful sample album in their initial client meeting and maybe persuade them to include $1,500-$3,000 toward their album in their wedding package. But once they SEE their wedding photos, they will likely want many more of their images in their album than we can include for that price. Our job as photographers is to design an album that is ideal -- that tells the whole story of the day in a beautiful way that isn't too cluttered or busy -- and then give the client the opportunity to purchase the ideal upgraded album, or stick with what they committed to in their original package. This isn't a bait-and-switch tactic, this is a service provided to our client that gives them options. They are not forced into spending more money, but they are given the opportunity to purchase something better. 
 
I design all of my albums with more pages than the client orders. And I don't keep this a secret. My client is informed of this service before they even hire me. If a client orders an album with 17 spreads in it, I typically provide them an initial design with 25-35 spreads, just depending on what is ideal for that particular wedding. They then have the option to narrow down the spreads to just the 17 included in the package, or they can choose to upgrade at that time. Most of my clients choose to upgrade by at least a few spreads; many upgrade to the full design presented to them. 
 
Jessica, the bride in the above-pictured album, was on yearbook staff in high school. She highly valued photography and made sure to communicate that to me. I remember at her reception, her mother pulled me aside and told me that I needed to design Jessica a very large album because she was going to want all of her photos in it! I'd never heard that request from a mother-of-the-bride, but I took her words to heart. I designed what I thought was a HUGE album for Jessica. She ordered 17 spreads in her package, and I had her initial design created with 36. Over double. I sent it off to her and waited to hear back. Jessica replied to me within days and raved about the album design. She told me she loved everything about it, but there was only one problem:  
 
It wasn't big enough.  
 
She had me add 3 more spreads to the design and ended up purchasing a wedding album with 39 spreads (78 pages) in it. She spent $2,000 towards her album in her initial package and an additional $2,100+ afterwards in upgrades and parent albums. This experience solidified for me the power and importance of up-selling. We need to show clients what they will ideally want, but might not be willing to commit to before they see their photos.  
 
If you're interested in learning more about up-selling, check out the next posts in this up-selling series: 
3 Tips for Up-selling your albums the RIGHT way 
How to cover your album design costs and make a 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!
You should consider up-selling your albums. Here's why.
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! 

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Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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