How In Person Sales Drastically Changed my Portrait Photography Business

Note from Cole – the tutorial & photographs are written / provided from Twyla Dawn Photography.

I am sure by now lots of you have seen and heard the term IPS thrown around quite a bit in groups and discussions. IPS is In Person Sales which is referred to as a customer service based business model. In this article I will share with you how in person sales drastically changed my portrait photography business.

What is IPS:

As I mentioned In Person Sales is a customer based business model. It means you make your client feel like they are the only ones you are working with at that time. You talk to them on the phone, you discuss all the details, you hear them and you help make their ideas come to fruition with your style. It means you are selling an experience not just digitals. They are number one at all times throughout the process and after. It does take more time and is personalized for each client. Your workflow is streamlined and you make more money off of one client then busting your butt on several.

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Before transitioning to IPS:

I chose to do IPS because I wanted more out of my portrait business financially. I was all-inclusive and only making $250 a session. At the time, I thought it was great but once I realized I was spending hours on design, the session, editing and final delivery I was making less than minimum wage. I needed to make a profit. I needed to be confident in myself to charge what I needed to, to be even a little successful. Now if I were a wedding photographer I personally wouldn’t choose this for my business. I would wrap all the cost into packages. I am a portrait photographer so I needed to capture an income and shoot and burn was not for me. I was working my butt off for no money.

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The transition:

I spent hours researching IPS. I wanted it to work for my business and me. I got mixed information, however I knew what I wanted to do for ME so I got started on my business model. I knew I wanted to offer prints, canvas and albums. So once again I researched every lab and attended WPPI. I got my hands and eyes on everything, and it was so much fun! I knew that I still wanted to offer digitals because everybody wants them. I just wasn’t going to make them easily accessible at a low price point. Digitals are my cow, and from that cow I get milk, cheese, yogurt…my products.

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The Now:

I figured out all my pricing and I knew immediately that I wanted to charge a session fee separate from prints and products. The session fee is based off of what bare minimum I needed to make to sustain my studio and overhead.  In my state session fees are not taxed, so that was kind of a no brainer for me.  Then I made my price list, which is charged separately from the session. My first price list included 3 collections with product and digitals.  The client getting was slow at first, then picked up. I noticed a trend. Everyone was choosing my middle package, which was $400. It included a 16×24 canvas and 10 digital images. So I was making the session fee, the $400 for a total of $600 a session. Wahoo! My average sales per session for 2015 were $800, not including the session fee. I left my prices in place until the beginning of 2016. I went to a create your own collection pricing. Bookings have been a little slow but inquiries are up and I am still booking. Patience is so important when you change to IPS.

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So I leave you with this. You are worth more. You can make a profit in your business. You can supplement your income and eventually make this your income. My prices will continue to go up the better I get. I know for some people that $800 is not a lot of money, however for me it’s a fantastic start!

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