Growing your photography business with ips
These three little letters can drum up a ton of controversy in the photography world and for good reason. However, we don't think you can go wrong either being a IPS or shoot-and-share photographer.
We believe there's one key factor that gets left out of the IPS discussion on a regular basis, so we've brought it to you in this episode.
IPS stands for “in-person sales” and there is some controversy surrounding whether this is something photographers should offer. On today’s episode, we’re diving into the whole issue of shoot-and-share and IPS sessions. When most photographers start out, they typically fall into the shoot-and-share category by sharing all the images digitally to the client. However, running a business this way can be exhausting and photographers began offering IPS in order to raise their prices and shoot less. Wedding photography is a whole other type that has their own way of doing things, so we’re mainly focusing on senior, family, and newborn session.
Printed photos and milestones
Today, everyone has a camera on their phones and can choose to take photos of their families at any given time. But with milestone photos, there is usually one official photo to mark that milestone like your children’s official second grade photo. When you think back to your elementary and senior photos, you most likely received an order form of print photo packages and it was easy to see the value in those yearly photos.
Shoot-and-share: Looking at the numbers
If you’re looking to add a substantial amount of income to your family’s finances, you can’t just shoot and share your images without any additional sales. You will have to shoot a lot of sessions or have an amazing client experience to charge what you need to make. We believe and teach that a family session with digitals only is worth $250. As a community of photographers we have to create and educate others on what the standard is regarding sessions and pricing.
If you want to make $30,000 a year (gross, not net), and you charge $250 a session, you will need to do 120 sessions; thats 10 sessions a month and about 2-3 sessions a week. This means you have to schedule and communicate with 120 people. We understand that $250 seems like a lot for those sessions, but the value that your clients put on their yearly photos is huge. If your goal is just to have some fun money and see what this whole business thing is about, then this is a great place for you to be. It really does all go back to what your end goals are. To make $100k a year without doing weddings, you will have to do some sales in order to get there.
IPS and the numbers
There is some controversy on this topic because people believe that if you’re doing IPS, then you’re holding someone’s images hostage that belong to them. But there are plenty of clients out there who want to hire someone to manage all the printing, color correcting, frame and canvas options for them. People will spend money on what they value; so if they value their family photos, they will pay for the prints and for someone to do it for them. Newer photographers may feel like they can’t charge for prints because their work isn’t ‘their best yet’ but trust us, you can still do IPS with the photos you’re taking right now. The thing to consider is not your photos, but where you get them printed and what you’re printing them on. Cinnamon tested several different places and found out that Costco was the second best place to get photos printed, after White House. (pro tip: Walgreens is the worts). IPS can feel like a beast because there are a lot of moving pieces in this model. You have to set up extra time to re-meet with them, test your printing, deliver the photos, etc; but, you also have to shoot less sessions than you did when you were doing the shoot-and-share method which gives you time to add those high-end touches on the sales side. Look at the numbers again: If you decide to do IPS and charge $2500 per session, and you shoot twice a month, that’s $5,000 for 2 sessions versus 10 sessions for $2500 a month.
Making this transition is difficult, especially when you have repeat clients who are used to your old pricing structure. You can set it up in a way where you can educate them on why you’ve raised your prices and what you offer now. It doesn’t matter where you live or what your market is like, there are people who will pay to have their photos printed for them. You can even ask all of your past clients if they’ve ever printed their images from you and if they’d rather have it done for them. They may surprise you with how much they’d love for you to handle all of that for them.
Some photographers hear that word ‘sales’ and cringe because they don’t want to seem pushy in selling something no one wants. You’ve got to switch your mindset because you know they want these photos or they would not have hired you to take them. This also goes back to educating your clients on the front end. Let them know before they hire you what all goes into the session and the prints they can get too. It is when photographers do this on the backend that the clients feel like they’ve been scammed.
Neither of these options is wrong, please don’t misunderstand us on this. It just goes back to what your goals are and how you want to run your business. We encourage you to take time today to think about your business model and how you can continue to make it successful.
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