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Align's Owner Melissa Jill: My Album Story

Tips & Tricks

Hey guys! I'm Melissa Jill -- the Owner of Align!  
I wanted to take a second to introduce myself to those of you who may not know me. 
I started out my career as a professional photographer based out of a Phoenix, Arizona where I shot weddings for 16 years. Four years ago I moved to Huntsville Alabama where I am continuing to shoot weddings part-time but focusing even more of my energy on Align Album Design. I started this album design company back in 2012 as a way to help other professional photographers get a handle on their album workflow because I know from experience how tough it can be. Small business owners have A LOT of balls in the air at any one time.  
I really value albums and always highly encouraged all of my photography clients to include one in their package. But my relationship with albums hasn't always been a happy one. I struggled like many photographers to learn how to sell albums profitably and efficiently and at times it was a rough road! More on that later!  
I now live in Huntsville, Alabama with my husband, Bruce, and our four year old little boy, Beau. They are my world:

Our days are filled with raising a human, running a business, pouring into our church, and keeping up with family and friends. Oh -- and eating my husband's amazing cooking! I totally lucked out in that department! 
So that's a little about myself. I LOVE what I do, but like many photographers, album design and workflow has been a pain point of mine. I remember sitting down to do my very first album after a client requested one during my first year in business and thinking... "This is going to be easy, I'll just throw this together." Turns out it wasn't so much. There was a HUGE learning curve and every time I thought I had one thing mastered, another issue popped up.  
First there were gazillions of options -- which company do I use, which style album do I pick, which cover, which paper type? Do I design it myself or outsource it? Which software do I use or which company do I outsource to? How do I manage proofing with my clients? In addition to all of these choices, I hit so many obstacles with my client workflow. I waited FOREVER for clients to pick their images. Then when I figured out I needed to be pre-designing, I waited FOREVER for them to finalize their design. There were endless rounds of revisions, clients wanting to stuff every last corner of the design with images, and the list goes on and on. I was left wondering -- IS IT EVEN WORTH IT to sell albums?  
Clearly I answered that question in the affirmative. And I've lived to tell about it. And not only that, but I figured out how to make albums PROFITABLE. For the last couple years we were in Phoenix, my studio's yearly profit from albums was close to $25,000. I share this only to encourage you that it is possible. And it IS worth figuring out how to navigate through the obstacles and frustrations! 
Over the coming weeks I hope to share a few things I've learned along the way that have helped make my album workflow profitable and efficient. These tips will apply to Align clients, but they will also apply to those of you who design your albums yourselves. And while what I share has worked well for my studio, it's not the only way to do things. I hope this blog can be a place where we can have a conversation; where we can learn and grow from sharing our knowledge and experiences with one another. Life is always better lived in community. So I hope you'll join me, follow along, and share your insight in the comments!  
To make sure you don't miss out on any of the upcoming tips in this series -- many of which I guarantee will be life-changing! -- click here to sign up to get them sent straight to your inbox! 
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