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Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Lesson 10 of 41

What Products do You Want to Offer?


Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Lesson 10 of 41

What Products do You Want to Offer?


Lesson Info

What Products do You Want to Offer?

So now we're gonna start talking about products. Once you have kind of a general idea of what your feel is then we can start talking about specifics and what you want to offer. And this is super important because in this day and age of photography everybody can create a great image occasionally. It's not the images that are going to draw your client. They can create-- They're there all the time. They can capture all those magical moments that happen in life with their phone often. They're pretty good. So it's not the image alone that's going to set you apart so that you're different from your competitors. What is it that's making this fish stand above the other thousands of fish that are down below it, right? So what are you going to offer that is distinctive. So there's a lot of different kinds of products that you can offer. From digital files is always the first one that comes to mind-- They're our prints. It's the traditional bread and butter of the photography industry. And then t...

here's wall art. There are different kinds of applications, different types of materials that you can print on. You can hang things in different configurations on the wall. The main thing about wall art is that it's big and it's the focal piece in a room as opposed to a traditional print that could be something on a desk or-- It's just a different application. Albums are great for displaying a body of work. So if you have an experience like a wedding or an adventure or something that tells a story, an album is going to be your best application for a product. And then cards. Cards are kind of a funny thing. And by cards I mean greeting cards, holiday cards, thank you cards, folded paper cards. We didn't offer these for a long time and once we started offering them they were one of the things that caused people to book a session with us. So we use this more as marketing, a reason to get people in the door year after year after year. It wasn't our final goal for our sale but it certainly was a good impious to get people to come into our studio regularly. And then there's all kinds of specialty products that are out there. There's jewelry and handbags and blankets and cups and all kinds of different things and you can decide how those apply to your business. But in general, these are kind of the core of any photography business whether it's fine art, portraiture, weddings, commercial. Everything kind of falls into these categories. So let's take a look at some specifics. Digital files, the product that everybody wants and no one wants to pay for, right? (laughter) And so this applies to almost every genre: weddings, portraits, seniors, editorial, commercial, pets, everybody wants the digital files. So nobody really wants to invest a lot of money in digital files because everybody can create one, right? It's pretty easy. Click your phone, got a digital file, right? However, these are your most coveted assets in a photography business. Once these leave your possession, you no longer have the power to sell anything. Let me say that one more time cause it's critical. Once your digital files leave your possession, you no longer have the power to sell anything. Someone else has taken that power and they can do anything they want with those digital files. Okay? So you have to guard these. These you hold close and you only let them out in a very controlled way. Okay, we'll talk about specifically how to do that. So digital files, keep an eye on those guys. They can make or break your business. Prints. Oh my gosh, 30 by 40, 24 by 30, 20 by 24, 16 by 20, holy moly which ones do you choose? Right? There's a gazillion different sizes. So if you show your client this, their eyes are gonna cross and they're not gonna buy anything because there's too many choices. Think about going to a fine restaurant versus going to a diner. When you go to a fine restaurant, you have maybe four or five restaurants to choose from and that's it. And they're really amazing. When you go to a diner, you might have 30 or different things on the menu and it takes you 20 minutes just to read through the whole thing, right? Very different experience as a buyer. So as you are communicating with your clients, think about the experience that you want your buyer to have. Do you wanna have the diner experience with every size imaginable? Or do you wanna have a fine dining experience with your buyer? Let me explain this to you a little bit. I can create any of those sizes but I offer my client this configuration. So what this means is the grande, 60 inches. What does that mean? 60 by what? It doesn't matter. I'm the photographer. I'm gonna crop the image to the perfect composition. Could it be 20 by 60, 30 by 60, 40 by 60? It doesn't matter. I'm holding control of that. My client doesn't need to decide that. I'm the artist, right? Okay. Same thing with any of these sizes. Let me help my client make the most perfect art piece for their home. That's not their decision to make, that's my decision as the artist. Okay? So, all I can say about prints and sizes is simplify, simplify, simplify. Keep it easy to understand, help your clients make good decisions that best represent your style. Okay. Now, wall art. This is where things get cool. So we're gonna take a look at some products in just a second and we're gonna talk about fine art papers, canvas, metal, wood, acrylic, there's so many different options. So let's go ahead and look at some products now and talk about what advantages those have for our clients. Okay. So, there's so many different materials that we can print on. This little guy is acrylic. It has a metallic photograph on the background. You can see that it is about a quarter inch thick along the edge and it has a really modern, sleek feel to it. It also has a three dimensional look. If you shine a light on this, you get so much depth to this particular image. You can mount these so that it is completely flush and it looks just like this hanging on the wall or you can put aluminum brackets on each of the corners so that it stands out from the wall a couple of inches and has a totally different look and feel to it. This is not something that your client can have printed just anywhere. They can't go to Walmart and have something like this made. This is a unique, interesting, brilliant product that can be a focal piece as part of someone's decor. Okay? This piece needs to be printed big and beautifully on the wall, okay? If you notice, I have a tiny little sample piece here. This gives my client the idea of what this looks like so that they can envision it big on their wall in their home. They can touch it, they can hold it, they can hold it up, they can adjust it and tilt it in the light, they can interact with this tiny little piece, okay? An acrylic is an amazing option if you have bold, vibrant images. Okay? Can you see what kind of style this would fit of images? Alright. Let's talk about this type of product. Kenna? So, quick question-- Are these acrylics and some of the other things you're gonna show us things that can be offered in all those different sizes? Absolutely. So these are the products that fit in this range of sizes. So some of them go up to 60. All of them go up to 40 inches. And so these are the type of wall art pieces that we offer to our clients as a custom decor piece for the home. Okay. So this is a photograph that's printed on aluminum. And if you look from the side it's very thin and there are a couple of different options whenever you're printing on aluminum. You can make it so that the white is white on these images or you can leave the white blank so that you can see the aluminum through, the metal through in the print. Which gives a really neat kind of washed out look a little bit. Not really washed out but you can just see the metal. It's more of an industrial look to it. Again, you can have this mounted so that there's nothing on the image and it just stands out from the wall a little bit or you can get the aluminum cleats that go in each of the corners that give it a real modern feel. So again, modern, sleek, vibrant. Can you picture the kind of images that would look good on this particular product? Could this be an edgy urban image? For sure. Could this be a bold, adventurous image? Could this be a soft, traditional photograph? Maybe. Just depends if it aligns. Would you want a handpainted image on this? A traditional hand painted photograph? Maybe not, right? So pick your style, pick your products appropriately. This image-- Traditional print. It's mounted on gator board so that it doesn't warp over time. This is the most sturdy of all substrates to mount on. This is a fine art, henna mule print. It's the most archival of what we offer. It's gonna last for generations. When I talk to my customers who really collect art and appreciate that, they know about this paper. They know about this. And I can educate them as the premier archival product. Okay? This is the same type of paper, the same quality, but it has a pearlescent quality to it. So if you have a light shining on this particular paper in a home or in a gallery, it's going to be vibrant and bold and beautiful. So my clients who have art in their home with lights shining on them, this is the paper that I would recommend for that. Okay? Can you imagine what kind of style would be good with this type of paper? This type of presentation of your art? Lots of applications. These two particular papers, you can print just about anything on them. And there's all kinds of fine papers that you can print on that have textures and different depths of color, density, all of those things. You can choose the ones that best fit your style. And this one is really neat. This one is printed on wood. And so you have the natural wood here and you have a beveled edge and then on the back of it you have little cleats where you can hang it as a group or individually on a wall. This is one of the products that doesn't print as big because of the natural materials but it's a really neat product to showcase more of a natural style. An authentic, organic type of image. Yep. And then you have a traditional canvas. But this isn't your traditional canvas. This is printed on metallic paper so it has a luster and it has a sheen. Canvases you can print very expensively all over the place. Anybody can get a canvas made, right? This is not a specialty product. But not anybody can get a metallic canvas made. And not anybody can get a canvas of this quality made. And so when you talk to your clients you need to be sure that they understand that this isn't the same thing that they can order online for $20. You need to be able to explain to them that it's a different material. It's gonna last longer. It's more archival than the inexpensive canvases they can get online. These are such a neat way to sell a clean, large group of images as a focal piece for the home, okay? So as I just walked you through all of these products, could you envision how they could be used in a home? Could you picture that on your wall somewhere? These are the things that you need to do for all of your products so that your client can also envision them in their home. Why is this canvas worth $800 when somebody can get it for $40 online with their image on it? Or, heaven forbid, if you gave away your digital file that they could make one with your image on it for $40 online. So as you think about your products, think about the ones that align with your style, the ones that the people who appreciate your style would appreciate in their home, and then those are the products that you offer. You don't need to offer everything under the sun. You're an artist. You get to choose what best aligns with your images and what your clients will really like. So those are pieces for the wall. Now, we also have-- Let's see. So we talked about different papers, we talked about canvases, metal, wood, acrylic. It's a custom product that you make in any shape and size, any configuration you can put them together in groups for your walls, for your client's walls. It's a really great product. It's a high end product that you can charge a lot of money for. So, albums. We talked about those a little bit. Those are great for weddings, events, a portfolio perhaps. Different experiences. So it's the perfect product if you have a large group of images. So let me show you a little bit about our albums. We have three different sizes that we offer. There are a million choices but we chose three. And this is what we call our simplicity album. It's a small eight by eight album. It just has a simple faux leather cover on it, it has names embossed or anything that you want embossed on the cover. And then it has an image that goes across all of the pages. There's not really a gutter in any of these albums so that we could print a single image all the way across or we can do a custom design. The pages inside are laminated so that they're protected. And even if somebody spills something on these they can just carefully wipe it off so they're very durable. They're sturdy, they're not gonna ripple over time, they're mounted on a heavy, thick paper. And so this is one of our custom albums. So albums are another thing that your customers can order online for themselves. There are lots of different options out there. However, they're not gonna be able to order an album just like this. This is a super high quality. When you hold this it has heft to it. It feels good, it feels valuable. Okay, and this is our small one. So we always have three sizes so that people can buy in the middle. Let me show you our medium album. It's a little bit different. It's bigger, it's ten by ten. It has a cameo image on the cover. We choose that. And the insides are exactly the same. This is a little bit different look and feel than what you saw in our other images huh? Okay. Still relationship. The inside of this album is the same paper, the same protective covering. This one we had a mom that journaled a lot and so we included some of her journals in there. So it's still about relationships. So this is our medium album. And then the last one-- This is our premier album that we offer. This is what we call our organic album. This sucker is heavy. It has heft. It feels like it's high quality. This has an exotic wooden cover. It has beautiful leather on the outside. This is the one that all of our clients want to buy. Think about our clients-- that adventure, that outdoor, that relationship. This is what they gravitate to us for. Same thing. So, has the same custom design on the inside, same kind of paper. So the quality we haven't sacrificed on the images. And any of these three different options that we offer quality is the same. The size is different, the cover materials are different, the images on the inside are the same. Cause it would be really hard for me to look at my client and say well if you buy this one we're gonna give you really good images but if you can only afford this one we're gonna give you kinda good images. That doesn't feel very good to a client, does it? So as you're thinking about the products that you wanna offer, be sure that you can describe their features and how they benefit your clients, why you're the best person to provide those to your clients, and then what you think they would like and what best suits your style. Okay, so that's albums. And then we have these cards. So, again this is a funny thing that we never really thought that we would offer but people come to us time and again for our cards. So they're for holidays, events, announcements. We have done wedding invitations. They're all beautiful quality, same image quality, they're all custom designed, and they generate demand for sessions. And that's the whole reason we offer them. We don't have a lot of markup on them because we look at them more as marketing than we do as a product. Okay. So we've walked through these different kinds of products that are possible. Now let's think about which products are you going to offer and how do they align with your style and target customer? So in this product development guide that is part of the bonus materials, there are a lot of questions that walk you through how to describe your products, what words you're going to use. I really want you to articulate why a product is best for your clients. If you can write that down then when you're communicating with your client either online or on the phone or in person, that's gonna come out and they're gonna see that you are professional, you've thought this through, that it aligns with your style, that it aligns with your business model. If you take that time to clarify everything upfront then your clients will see that you are the real deal, that you are a professional. And it won't matter if you have a commercial place or a home-based business or an RV business, they'll know that you have your act together as a business. Okay? So, we talked about what we offer to our clients and there are basically three things. We offer decor. So that's the acrylics, the metals, the wooden prints and we make them big and bold on our client's walls. They're all custom. We design them unique for each client. That's the decor. We offer three different albums to our clients. They often buy in the middle because that's the easy choice. And we use those for weddings, high school seniors, we use those for portfolios sometimes for people. Sometimes we use those as a portfolio for us when we are working with commercial clients. And then these are the things that we offer as an afterthought. That's what we sell-- These we offer because our clients demand them. Cards, that's how we get people in the door oftentimes and then this dude, digital files. So, whenever somebody calls me often times they ask if they can have the digital files. And I want to say yes because otherwise they'll hang up and call somebody else. Yes, we offer digital files. They start at $199. Then, my next thing that I say to them is why are you having images made? What caused you to call me to book a session? And then I start listening to what they really want because they really aren't asking me for a digital file to post on Facebook. They're not gonna go to all of the effort to call a professional photographer, get their family together, get dressed, get there, all of the things that are surrounded by that. That's not why they called me. And so it's my job as a business person to figure out why it is that they really wanna have these images made. And probably they don't really know what to do with the images so it's also my job to tell them what the possibilities are. Oh, do you have a particular wall in your home you're wanting to place these images? What does it look like? How big is it? What colors are in your home? We should really think about the time of year to photograph you to match the colors in your home. That's a powerful statement, right? All of the sudden we went from I need a digital file to whoa I need-- That wall is empty, I need something on that wall. And this person is not only going to create a beautiful image but they're also going to pick the right environment at the right time of year to compliment my decor. All of a sudden we're talking about a furniture investment instead of an image investment. What just happened psychologically to that client? Dollars just went up. In one statement. Decor for the home, that's thousands of dollars. Whereas an eight by ten, you can get those at nine bucks at the mall. Right? Very distinct and subtle but very, very important. So we'll talk more about digital files but keep that in the back of your mind. Anything you can do to steer your clients away from digital files subtly, answer their questions, and then shift it to something that you actually wanna create for them.

Class Description

When starting a new business, you will make hundreds of decisions, and many of those can be costly and affect the future of your business. Most photographers have little direction available on how to take these critical first steps to set themselves up for success.

Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter have built multiple photography businesses over the last 15 years. Kathy will share what they have learned so that you won’t waste time, money and resources trying to find the perfect formula.

You will learn how to:

  • Define your brand
  • Set up social media channels and a business website to support the vision of your brand
  • Develop an effective strategy for marketing to your ideal client
  • Develop a product line and profitable pricing structure
  • Develop a sales strategy to maximize your time and sales average

This class is for anyone who is standing at a crossroads, wanting to start a photography business, but not sure exactly how to go about it. You’ll not only learn how to get you started but also how to turn a profit through your photography in your very first year of business. Skip years of trial and error and invest your precious startup dollars in strategies, tools, and equipment that will immediately start making you money.


Amanda Beck

Kathy was a wonderful instructor. She was engaging and someone who was precise and incredibly helpful. We have a full time photography business and are always looking for new ways of running our business. Her information was insightful and forced us to have conversations about our business that we have haven't had in several years. She is fantastic and someone who has the information needed to help you start or expand your business. Thank you for a wonderful class!!


Thank you Kathy for yet again another very thought provoking class. You are such an inspiration, teaching us the right questions to ask ourselves so we too can be brilliant photographers / entrepreneurs. I was a fulltime RVer for seven years, traversing 44 states and seeing some of the most beautiful places on our planet. It gave me a great opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and to hone my photography skills. Now I have put down roots in Stapleton - Denver, CO and am soon to launch my own Family Lifestyle Photography business. Your course has definitely given me the courage to just charge ahead and go for it!

Tristanne Endrina

I am VERY impressed with this class! The structure of the class is well done. Each segment was thorough and backed up some knowledge from the previous segments. Kathy breaks everything down into understandable knowledge and also makes it very enjoyable to watch. I HIGHLY recommend this class if you're unsure about what to do to start your photography business. $3000 may sound like a lot of money, but you'll going to find yourself in a determined state to raise that money if you're REALLY passionate and serious about starting your photography business. Thank you, Kathy & Creativelive, for this class. I'm excited to get the ball rolling and build my photography business.