Wedding albums part 3: sales

posted in strictly business, tutorials, weddings at March 31, 2010

When I was shopping for auto insurance, I met with an insurance agent. I had intended to get some recommendations only for auto insurance, but he put together a package that also bundled together homeowner’s insurance.

In the end he convinced me to get a auto/home package that gave me better coverage for less money than I was spending before. In short, he up-sold me. Far from being annoyed, I was pleased. They key was that he was up-front about what he was presenting to me, and I ended up getting something better than expected.

That’s the way it should be done. However, just about every single wedding photographer I’ve talked to is leaving lots of money on the table when it comes to album sales. This problem is easy to correct.

Here’s the way I do it:

(1) Start out by including wedding album credits in your packages, not actual albums. I learned this from Gary Fong. By the way, if Gary Fong is not on your list of photographers to admire and emulate, he should be. He was earning $10k + per wedding at a time when it was simply unheard of.

Okay, back on topic. For example, instead of including a 30 page, 10×10 album in your wedding package, include an album credit. If you charge, say, $40 per page for a 10×10, then include a $1,000 credit instead.

Why credits instead of actual albums? If you include a 30 page 10×10 album in the package, then your clients will expect a 30 page 10×10 album. The “30 pages” becomes imprinted in their brains. They begin to think that a wedding album should be 30 pages, nothing more. Any attempt to get them to buy more pages will give them the impression that you’re just trying to bleed them for more money. By contrast, an album credit leaves the # of pages to be an open possibility.

(2) After the wedding, design the first draft without any client input. Two reasons: first, if you wait for your clients to select images then you could end up waiting for a long time. In some cases – years. Second, your clients have never designed an album before so how would they know which images would make the best design?

(3) I tell my clients up front that the 1st draft is my ultimate album design. The design I would make with the images if it were my own wedding. A no-limits design. My clients know up front that my 1st draft averages 50-60 pages. I also tell them that they are free to make edits, add or remove pages.

(4) A few weeks after the wedding I email my first draft album design. I again remind them that they can edit the pages, remove pages or add pages. Usually they make a few image substitutions and also typically cut out a few spreads. That’s okay.

(5) After a couple of rounds of changes, they are usually left with an album around 40-46 pages. Since my album credit included in my best selling package (your best selling package, by the way, should alwyas be your “middle” package) is only enough to buy 24 pages, I usually end up with an after-wedding up-sell of about $1,000. This is an extra $1,000 that most photographers leave on the table. And the client is never surprised or upset. They want the extra pages, because they have had time to emotionally bond with them. And they were expecting a big album up front.

That’s pretty much it. I’ll be discussing this topic and many others in greater depth at my May 22 Starting a Profitable Wedding Business workshop.


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  • Mia

    Great tip! Thank you so much! I love your blog! (March 15, 2011 | 08:25pm)

  • Jennifer

    Who do you use to print your albums? This series has been wonderful! Thank you so much! (March 30, 2011 | 10:32pm)

  • admin

    I use Finao and Visionart. (March 31, 2011 | 07:58am)

  • Lauren Noon

    Great article! You bring a lot of light onto print products in the photography industry, which I still think are really important for photographers to offer in their business. Your theory of how to sell is amazing! Thanks for the article and the inspiration. (March 09, 2012 | 03:50pm)

  • Corrie

    Can i ask. Do you include engagement images in the wedding album design (if a session was shot)? Or do you keep it purely wedding images? (March 21, 2012 | 05:41pm)

  • admin

    @Corrie: just wedding images, unless the client asks otherwise. (March 21, 2012 | 06:37pm)

  • Sherei Jackson

    Thank you for this great post! I have a quick question. At what point do you let the client know that you are charging $40/page. Do they ever feel lead on when you show them a 50+ page spread that there $1000 will cover it? (October 13, 2013 | 12:01am)

  • admin

    @Sherei: my price list includes my prices for albums. The key is to tell the client UPFRONT that the 1st design is the 'no limit' design. (October 13, 2013 | 05:01am)

  • Anthony

    Hello, I really like your advice. I've read a couple of your pages now. I was wondering, how do you create an album for your clients to view? Do you do it with a program or...? I am curious because I really like the idea, but I am uncertain how to utilize it. Thanks so much! ~Anthony J (December 15, 2013 | 03:10am)

  • admin

    @Anthony: (December 15, 2013 | 12:01pm)

  • Dorothy J

    Thank you so much for the valuable information. Being a new photographer I do not currently have a website (only Facebook). I would like to be able to have an online image gallery where I can export album drafts for clients to approve. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance - Dorothy J (March 04, 2014 | 02:15pm)

  • admin

    @Dorothy: there are lots of solutions to upload images into a gallery for client approval: smugmug, instaproofs, etc. Lots of options for websites as well: livebooks, bludomain, squarespace (March 04, 2014 | 02:24pm)