Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones and this is episode 129 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.
Okay, this week’s episode comes to you courtesy of Facebook group member Dan Ritchey, who is an excellent photographer. His Milky Way photos are incredible.
Anyway, he posted this a little over a week ago and for context the customer he mentioned had a low-resolution digital file of the image with Dan’s watermark over it.
This is his post …
I have a client who wants an image of mine printed on canvas, a large print 35×48, they asked for a few light modifications to the photo (that’s fine) but after pricing my cost and using the 3X formula the print would be costly. I sent an email letting them know that due to the size and shipping of a print that size it was going to be expensive and I understood if they wanted to go with a small size.
The return email was not pleasant and was followed by the client doing a little internet research finding the cheapest canvas printing company and having the print shipped to their house.
Now that eliminates me from the equation and all that implies (learning the craft of photography, equipment costs, post-processing time and equipment, and so on). It has been frustrating, to say the least, I don’t print the cheapest thing out there and I still need to run a business, is this common, has anyone else run into this type of situation?
A commonly recommended markup for photography products is 2.85.
Your other option is to follow a basic principle of pricing goods, that is, charge anywhere between 2x or 7x the COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) price.
Right, let’s start with the …
The Problem Customer
This person thinks that he should be able to get a canvas printed at cost because he deserves it.
He doesn’t see the value in Dan’s work, or that Dan has spent thousands of dollars on equipment and travel expenses. Not to mention the years of learning how to take quality photos.
This kind of customer needs to be avoided, you don’t need this in your life.
So you need to …
Qualify your Customers
Now, I first heard of this twenty years ago from a realtor. If you have ever been on a realtor website and wanted information, you sometimes get a short questionnaire to fill in.
How much are you looking to spend? What is your timeline for buying? That kind of thing.
The reason for this is to weed out the tire kickers and stop people who have no intention of buying, from wasting the realtor’s time.
Now, I’m not saying do a questionnaire, but you do need to put some information out there that will make people stop and think.
Make them understand what they have to be willing to do before they can hire you or put some of your artwork on their living room wall.
This is where you are going to put the information that is going to weed out the customers like Dan’s. They are going to take one look and instantly decide to book you or walk away without causing you a minute of stress.
Websites aren’t only about telling the world how great you are. They are also a place for you to decide who can and can’t have access to your talent and services.
So what is this mysterious website information that is so powerful?
Show your Pricing
It is so simple. If you sell prints of your work as Dan does, put some price examples on your website.
So next to one of your photos give some prices. Like Canvases from $300 to $899. Framed prints from $450 to $1200. Also, mention available sizes, like 11×14 to 36×48. Of course, you could post a full-price list with all your options, which would work even better.
Let’s think about Dan’s client. He had to contact Dan for a price and was shocked that he would have to pay for the massive print.
If Dan had all the options and prices posted on his website the client would have instantly known that there wasn’t a free or low-cost option.
A simple thing like “prices from” can qualify customers. If you listened to last week’s episode I talked about pricing your work and getting as much as you can for it.
Dan mentioned multiplying the cost of the product by 2.85. I think 3x or 4x is fine. So if a 16×20 canvas costs you $70 plus $15 shipping, $85 total. You sell it for $255 (3x) or $340 (4x).
Don’t be afraid of pricing high, you are aiming your work at people who are willing to pay for quality artwork. Not some guy that thinks he knows what you should charge him.
Now just putting a scaled-down version of your photo on your website doesn’t tell the viewer much about your work apart from it’s a nice image. You are also making it easier for people to steal your work.
If the image on the website was of the photo framed on a wall in a home, then that tells the potential customer that someone else has it on their wall.
Seeing that makes the next step of buying a framed print for their home easier. You don’t have to physically print, frame, and then take a pic of it on your wall. There is an app for that, well a few apps. I have an Android phone and use the WallPicture 2 app. It automates the whole process and it’s free.
One thing Dan said got me thinking and that is his image was watermarked.
Years ago I sent some files to a Photo Lab for printing. Some were posters that had “Copyright Andy Jones Photography” down the bottom. The lab called me and said they wouldn’t print my work because it was copyrighted. I explained that I was Andy Jones and it was okay to print them. They sent me a form that I had to fill in giving them permission to print the posters.
So if you are going to use a watermark use “Copyright” somewhere in the watermark, or even “do not print”. If it doesn’t deter people from stealing the image, it might stop the print lab from printing it.
If you use frame mockup pics like I mentioned earlier you might be able to get away without a watermark.
Files or Products?
I just want to quickly go over selling the files and selling products.
Selling files to customers is handing over ownership of the images, and they are free to print whatever they like.
If you are a landscape photographer you should never sell image files. Instead, you should be selling the prints from the file, and keeping total control of them.
If you sell only digital files, they are your product when a customer is comparing photographers. Products make the customer look at your work and focus on image quality.
So to avoid contact with cheap-minded customers put your prices on your website and don’t be scared of 3x or 4x-ing the amount you pay for the products. It’s your business and you can charge whatever you like, remember it’s all mindset.
Okay, that is my take on qualifying your customers. Thanks to Dan Ritchey for asking the question in the Facebook group and thanks to you for listening to me waffle on.
If you need any help you can join the Facebook group or contact me through Messenger.
Right, talk to you soon, bye.