Have you considered switching from offering digitals, to in-person sales? Here is our list of what you’ll need to consider!

In-person sales (also known as IPS) is the act of meeting with your photography clients in person, to preview and sell your photographs. This varies greatly from providing your clients copies of high-resolution digital files via an online gallery, like Shootproof. In-person sales aren’t new, in fact, if you think about it, you’ll realize that it’s actually how things have been done for a LONG time. The world of photography has just recently changed in the last 10 years towards more technology-based sales.

Why in-person sales is a recent “throwback” trend?

in-person sales

Many photographers have decided that IPS provides a different and more specialized experience. As a business model, it can be EXTREMELY lucrative, as it tends to attract higher-paying clients. They are paying for a custom experience with custom products, that are often very marked up significantly.

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Therefore, having a really defined business plan and a marketing strategy can be VERY useful in this type of market. You’ll also want to explore how to gain more clients that ideally fit into your “ideal client” profile!

Time consideration.

IPS can be a LOT of work, but you’ll most likely have fewer clients since you’re talking about a higher-end market. You’ll likely have to schedule a lot of meetings with clients, say at coffee shops or the like.

I’ll give you an example: Millions of people are willing to pay for fast food. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s cheap and it satisfies a need. This is why McDonald’s is successful. There are the most Michelin star restaurants where I live, and they are JUST as successful. And let me tell you, they DO NOT have the same volume. In fact, I went to one and there were only FOUR tables. FOUR. On a Saturday night.

So while you may not have the same amount of turnover in terms of clients, you can make MORE with the few you DO have, but it may take more time.  There are some IPS photographers that make $5-10k on EVERY client, this includes basic portrait sessions. As you can guess, this service is HIGHLY customized, meaning you are spending more time with each client. Here are things to consider when thinking of in-person sales.

  • The time it takes to research product pricing and your cost of doing business. This can take a TON of time. You have to be very detailed in your costs to make sure that you are profitable.
  • You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your clients. This includes your initial meeting, the actual photography session, in-person sale meeting and ordering, overall correspondence time, travel time to meetings, and creating and delivering the final product.

in-person sales for photographers

Check out our Podcast all about in-person sales here. 

Some serious research!

IPS takes some major research. You have to decide what products you will offer, how much they cost, and the amount you plan to mark them up.  It’s always wise to look at many different professional labs and have them send you information about their products. You can then narrow it down based on what you want to offer.

The recommendation is to not make things too overwhelming for you OR your clients. This means you may want to find some core products you’d like to offer, and only offer very few variations (for example two types of album covers).

The more options you give, the more difficult it will be to choose! Your goal is to get your client to buy DURING your in-person ordering session! The longer they wait and contemplate, the less likely they will be to purchase your products. You’ve been there, you’ve maybe thought about something a little too long and then you manage to talk yourself out of it? We don’t want that.

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A price list and samples.

Your clients want to know what they are getting for their money. Having a solid price list and samples is KEY to selling yourself as an IPS photographer.

You’ll want to go over pricing and samples BEFORE you book a session, as you don’t want to shock your clients! The sticker price of these products may narrow your clientele, so making sure your clients know the ballpark of what they’ll spend may help avoid a headache after a session is complete! Many professional labs will offer special prices on sample prints, albums, and other products.

A strategy that I’ve heard from many IPS photographers is that you can print an extra canvas, album, or print and try to upsell those to your clients after their ordering session. If they choose not to purchase the extra product, you simply add it to your sample items.

Serving your clients by showing what you want to sell is a great part of the sales process. Therefore, your products and prints should be the largest size of your options.  You don’t want to display an 8×10″ print in your studio if your goal is to sell a larger framed print. People need help visualizing what will be in their homes, so help them as much as you can!


A way to display your images!

There are two types of display techniques used by IPS photographers. For those that have a higher budget, they invest in a projector to display images on their client’s wall, or their studio wall. The second way is via a computer or iPad.  This allows you to show your clients their gallery of images to choose from, and also gives you the ability to show your images on a virtual wall! Apps like ShootandSell do this and are GREAT tools to get your client envisioning your work in their home.

preview of wall art

Some courage.

Making the change from shoot and burn to IPS can be tough, especially when you have people whispering in your ear that it’s not possible. IT IS possible. There are a ton of photographers (some in lower-end markets) that are doing VERY well for themselves with in-person sales. It simply takes a little more effort on the front end, when it comes to defining and find those ideal clients in your market.

couple kissing

Read on here if you’d like to learn more about a first-hand IPS experience!

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