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Strategies for Designing Parent Albums

Tips & Tricks
wedding album

above photo by Rebecca Sehn  
Last week we talked a little bit about parent albums and the benefits for offering them. In that post, we touched on how offering exact duplicate copies of the bride & groom's album requires very little extra work for photographers because the design work is already done! While that strategy keeps things simple, some clients desire to have the ability to customize their parent albums.  
So what is the best approach when your client is asking for alterations to the original design for their parent albums? Today we are going to break down the design/revision strategies successfully used here at Align to help photographers just like you painlessly create multiple album designs for the same wedding...without anyone losing their minds!  
Here is a list of how Align can help you maximize your profits with minimal extra work for you, the busy photographer!   
1. Duplicate copy 
The most direct and simple option is that clients order an exact duplicate copy of the bride and groom's design, typically just in a smaller size that has the same proportions. This would be appropriate when there are NO requests for modifications. Many album printing companies will even allow you to order a smaller album using the exact same design files you uploaded for the large version (i.e. using 12x12-sized layouts to print an 8x8 copy as well). However, if your album company requests separate files for each version, just reach out to your Align designer! Depending on the size you need, we may be able to export the new files immediately or we can use another revision round to resize your design. 
2. Take advantage of those unused revisions 
Every Align Album Design order includes 3 rounds of revisions in the price. Once the bride & groom's design is approved, you can use any unused revision rounds to allow the parents to submit their changes. As long as you don't use more than 3 revision rounds total, there is no additional charge! But if you need more than that, the cost is $50/round which is still typically less expensive than placing a new album design order. 
3. Multiple versions of a single spread  
Alternatively, if you know for sure that ONLY ONE spread will be changing between the versions (such as the family portrait spread), we could simply design multiple versions of that one spread from the start (at our usual $8/spread price). For example if you need three versions of a 15 spread album, Align could actually design/bill/deliver 17 spreads total. And then you would place three separate orders with your print company and just switch out which version of the family portrait spread you upload to them.  
4. Separate design orders  
Some clients like to place separate design orders for each album. This is the best method if any of the following circumstances are in play concerning the albums: they utilize different image collections, they have different dimension ratios, they require different design styles, they won't have many spreads in common, etc. This is also the method to use when you simply want a fresh start after you finish the original design.  
As you can see, depending on which approach best fits your workflow/client needs, there is a way to keep the design work simple while still giving your clients exactly what they want. There is nothing quite as satisfying as knowing you have delivered an amazing product and service to your client while paying close attention to their unique requests. At Align, we are more than happy to help you achieve this end goal!  
We hope you've found these tips helpful!  
----------> If you 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 an 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!
Strategies for customizing parent albums or multiple albums for the same wedding while keeping the design and revision process simple
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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The Benefits Of Offering Parent Albums

Tips & Tricks
wedding album and parent album

Hey photographers, it's Align founder and pro-photographer Melissa Jill here! Let's talk about something I believe every photographer should include as a part of their service and offerings -- parent albums! 
Parent albums are duplicate or slightly-altered copies of the main album you've already created for the bride & groom. While they usually have the same design on the inside pages, the size of the album is typically smaller and more light-weight than the bride and groom's album. If you are NOT currently offering parent albums as a core part of your photography packages, I would encourage you to do so!  
I feel strongly about offering parent albums for a few good reasons that can be separated into how they benefit not only your client, but also YOU!  
BENEFITS FOR THE CLIENT:BENEFITS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS:Pretty straightforward and hard to argue, right?  
Offering parent albums as part of your ever-evolving photography service is a no brainer and an instant win-win. Your clients will be thrilled to have the option to purchase something so beautiful and significant for their loved ones, the value of your service will increase with the additional product, and there's very little effort needed to bring in some extra income! 
If you found this post helpful and would like to receive tips like this straight to your inbox, click here to sign up!
The Benefits Of Offering Parent Albums
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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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 in business for about 16 years now, 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 twelve 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 2020 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.  
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! 

Blog post written by: Melissa Jill
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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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