Do You Give Your Clients Digital Images or Prints?

What’s your number one question when it comes to building your photography business?

Every week I get email asking various questions about the business. I do try and answer everything that comes through, though I will admit it might take me several days at times to go through everything.

Last week I received a great note from John. And since he ended by saying, “I’d love to see a blog post covering the topic”, here it is.

Hi Lori,

I read your blog all the time and truly enjoy it!  I’m just starting out in the photography business.  I followed your advice:  Networked with my co-workers here on FaceBook, showed my work, became enthusiastic and passionate about it without pandering to people.  Well, today it happened;  I was asked the question:   “So, if I were to hire you to take some pictures of me and my girlfriend….etc..”  Bad news:  I didn’t really have an answer.  Today’s younger crowd, with all the time they spend online, don’t really want prints.  They want digital images.  So, what’s the answer?  How does one set a price for what your time is worth without chasing off a potential client?  I’m sure this is in your Six Figure Course,…but I’d love to see a blog post covering the topic.  Thanks for any help you may be able to provide!!  ~John

First of all, you are correct about covering it extensively in my Six Figure Photographer. I dedicate several modules to discovering what your client wants, and giving them what they ask for. It really can help you build up your business in the shortest amount of time possible.

That said, let’s talk for a moment about expectations.

What did your prospect want? Instead of having an instant answer for your prospect, turn it around and ask what they want. Chances are he knew exactly what he wanted.

  • “Photographs outside, a couple of images for my digital frame, and an image I can use on my social sites.”

Now you know he’s thinking digital, and you can offer a package that includes images in digital format to use in any way he chooses.

While digital images are an important part of our lives today, not everyone wants digital. Many people still love a large image framed and ready to hang over the fireplace.

As a photographer, you have to have a variety of options available for all types of clients. They will like and hire you because of your artistic eye. But what you offer them is completely up to you.

No matter what you offer, proper compensation is a must. You can’t expect to build a full time business by charging $50 per client, and handing over a full set of digital files. With little hope of making any additional sales, a package like that could quickly put you out of business. You would need 2,000 clients per year to build a Six Figure business, which amounts to almost 6 clients per day, every single day of the year.

So what do you do? Keep it simple. I’ve always been a believer in less is more.

Charge a creation fee, or sitting fee, and get paid for your time and production work.

Charge a deposit fee, and have it apply to any purchase a customer makes.

These two fees guarantee you a decent income, at whatever you determine to be the lowest compensation you will accept.

Then create an ala carte and a package plan for your clients to purchase. In today’s world, I do believe you should have “digital files” right along with the price of an “8×10”. If they want it for their website or for Facebook, they’ll be willing to pay for it. The key is to make sure you are fully compensated for releasing the digital file to them.

[I do invite you into the Six Figure Photographer program. This year I’ve made it 100% digital, and extremely affordable. It’s designed to help everyone from an amateur just starting the business, to a part-timer desiring to build the Six Figure business. The number one reason I became a Six Figure business owner was because I chose to bring mentors into my life, and buy into their programs to learn a ton in the shortest time possible. It worked for me; I know it’ll work for you too.]

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About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • http://www.zenologue.com/blog/ Nigel Merrick

    An interesting article with some great points that are very pertinent. Personally, I’m not a big fan of giving away, or selling digital files – my work is judged on the quality of the final prints and I like to keep control of that part of the process.

    However, for those who do want to offer digital media, your article makes perfect sense.

    Good job.

    Nigel

  • Virtual Photography

    I completely agree. As an artist, you should always build your business up and sell your work as a final product.

    In today’s world, especially with business portraits, or high school senior portraits, it is important to understand they may want photographs to use online. If you have an option for digital files – just to use on websites/social sites – and charge appropriately, you’ll be staying up with the times.

  • http://www.christacobbphoto.com Christa

    Speaking of selling digital images – there are two types – the small size, low res images that are suitable for online sites and not good for printing, and the hi-res printable images. I only sell low-res images that I have sized small(with my web site imprinted on the image = free advertising!) with a minimum purchase. This way my client’s can share their images online, but not print them. I never sell my hi-res images because I want to control the quality of the printing. This way I make a profit and my client gets what they want.

  • http://jgpix.shutterfly.com John Gaughan

    Thanks Lori!

    You answered my question and sparked my interest in learning more…!

    I appreciate your time!

  • Virtual Photography

    Christa – very good, I agree. Always remember your output, or final product, is what leaves a lasting impression. Do they share flimsy, poorly printed pictures with their friends, or a canvas backed, framed portrait? First impressions are everything.