Post Wedding Client Care + Album Design
Up until this point in each lesson we have talked about the things that we do as wedding photographers and now we're going to kind of head into final stages of the client relationship. So, we came on and we know how to prepare clients for an amazing wedding day, we know how to manage expectations and then we learned how to deal with expectations when the day does not unfold the way that we had anticipated and then we also know how to deal with those unplanned events. So, what I think I want to do is to talk about how we maximize each of those opportunities to in turn help our businesses by marketing and then help other businesses. So, we want other people to market their services by way of our photos. That is where we are up to now and this brings us to, I'm gonna get the keynote on, which is the post-wedding client care and wedding album. So, this right here is an opportunity for us to close out the relationship on a high. So I want to talk about how we go about doing that. So, I want...
to keep this presentation as linear as possible which is kind of like my zhuzh. If you're anything like me, you like to take notes with different color pens or highlighters, add stars, glitter, stickers. I mean, this is how I do it. In case you don't have that we're gonna walk through this as linear as possible in three sections. One, I'm going to talk about email, how I prepare my clients for their wedding album and then we can talk about how I include my album instructions and what those look like and three, I am going to talk about a thank you gift. So, that's the trajectory and that's where we are headed right now. So, the thing I want to focus on is this process. This last intimate process is done with intention. I have made the decision early on and I'm going to talk about this in a future lesson in regards to pricing. But I have made the decision to be a service-based photographer not a product-based photographer. We're gonna dive more into what that means and how that looks like in a future lesson but I want to say that this was done with intention. This means that product for me is a part of my business but it does not hinge, me making money as a service-based photographer means I'm getting paid handsomely for my services and if the client opts in for a product then great but I do not have a long product line. I do not have metallic prints or Afghans with photos on them. I don't have mugs, I don't have key-chains. We are laughing because we know that these are options. We do know, right? So, instead of me getting tied up with the minutia of planning out these small things, I empower my clients with their images to get that. Now, the things that they cannot get on their own like a wonderful beautiful album is where I wanna take the reins. Now, the album is the only product that I am hands on. So, remember through a gallery my clients can order prints, which is fantastic but again it's a hands-off process for me. The only hands-on product that I offer in my entire line, would be an album. So let's talk a little bit about what that looks like. So, the first part of this section is an email. Now what I wanna do with this email is, you guys know, I love my template emails. So here is yet another template email. About two weeks after I release the wedding gallery, so I need to give my clients time to go through their images, experience them. I don't want to give them a task to do because a lot of the time my clients are on their honeymoon when they receive their gallery. Not all the time, a lot of the time. So I don't want to send an email saying "Here's your gallery. Here's album instructions." I simply wanna say, "Here's your gallery, enjoy." Then they get back, they get settled into married life and then I follow-up two weeks after the gallery and I say, "Here is the album instructions for what "is going to happen." Now here an album... Here is my album instructions and what I think I hear a lot of photographers get frustrated with, is that there's always some sort of miscommunication in the process. Maybe the bride didn't understand or you didn't do it effectively. So I veer on the side of being a little bit of an over-communicator. I wanna outline everything in advance so it's super clear. But this goes back to what we talked about in lessons two and three, you want to exceed expectations. So how do you exceed expectations? You manage expectations. How do you manage expectations? By outlining what's in store. Now, I have email templates. You can find every email template that I've ever spoken about. You can find on jasminestarstore.com. My exact album template is on jasminestore.com but if you want to write one for your own then what I want you to do is walk through an outline. I'm gonna talk to you about my outline and then you can fill in the pieces. Now in case you wanna write one for yourself, the first thing you want to do is you want to instruct clients to log into the gallery and choose their favorites. First things first. Every gallery is different but as you've seen me work through Pixieset, I tell my clients to use the heart icon to choose their favorites. So it might seem like minutia, it'd be like, Let me teach you how to select your favorites but listen, over-communicate. Secondly, I want to give permission to choose photos that they like. Not what they think they should have in the album. I tell my clients, because a lot of times in the beginning, I was getting brides who were saying, "Oh well, my mom really thinks it should be this." Or, "Do you think I should have this traditional photo?" And I was sort of thinking, if I'm not giving my clients permission to choose what they want, I'm gonna lose them in the process. Thirdly, review how many images are included in their album. Review the size of their album and review how many pages in the album. Because when these clients booked you, there's a good chance that they had booked you a year in advance. They might not remember what exactly is in there. So instead of them being disappointed when they say, "Oh I thought I had it at 12 by 12." and you said "No, no, no, it was only 10 by 10." You run the risk of disappointing them. So out the gate you tell them, "This is what was included." In my albums, I tell my clients that they can have anywhere from 60 to 65 images. I then I say, "If you would like to add more images, "it will be $15 per image." Now I know that people will say "Oh, it's $60 a spread," or, "it's this." I have found, that if I'm not very specific, with my clients, I run the risk of misleading them. So if I say it's $60 a spread and a client comes to me and says "Oh I want to have these 12 photos "on this spread." Then I feel like I've compromised the integrity of the overall album so I say, "If you would like to add 15 photos, it'll be $15 at each of those photos." and I'm not that quick at math. So, but I use the calculator and I'll send that to her. Now then, what I want to do is fourthly, I want to explain the design process. We cannot assume that our clients know what they should be doing. First things first, how long it takes. So, I say, "Once you choose your images, I will get them and make sure that they're edited to perfection and then I'm going to loop in my album graphic designer. Yes, I tell my clients, I work with an album designer and then I explain, she's amazing at what she does. She's one of the best in the industries and my job is to be a photographer. And her job is to be a designer and she's a better designer than I ever could be, so she's gonna be a part of this process. When I tell clients that, they're just like, "Oh great, awesome." Then I tell her once I have the images, how long it will be before she sees the first draft of her album and then I explain, there's a total of three drafts only. So, I'm doing all of this work in advance so that there's never any questions after that. Fifthly, when the client is done I tell her to please email me. So when she emails me, then I know she's ready to officially get started on her album. That is the outline. Then you can plug and chug and put things as you so choose and add things that you think would make it stronger. So now what I wanna do is I wanna show you a sample of my back end for a client, this is a recent client album, this was my favorites folder on Pixieset. Now this is Kate and she married John and the things that I like is that I can download individual photos or I can simply download all of the photos that she's chosen. So I simply scroll back up to the top it says download all, I press that download all and it downloads directly to my desktop. This makes it beneficial for me because there's never any discrepancy what she chose. She was the one who navigated the gallery and chose them, she now knows how many images are in this gallery so now we're clear, everything's open. There was a point in time where I actually had to write down numbers of photos that people wanted, I know. We kind of laugh because we've all been there at some other point in time. This just makes life so much easier. So now what I want to talk about is the best advice that I have when it comes to the album process. Because for some photographers, especially me when I had first started, it was frustrating. I found myself very frustrated. Now I tell my clients to start in the favorites folder. The reason, anybody wanna take a guess as to why I'm asking them to start in favorites folder? Anybody, there's no wrong answer.
They're already retouched.
Yes, they're already retouched. That's why I'm saying, but I don't say start in the favorites folder because they're already retouched, I'm saying start in the favorites folder because it's the best curatorial perspective of your day. Included in your album are 65 images but if you start there and choose the majority, it'll help you tell the narrative and then you can add photos that you think I might've missed for sentimental reasons. So I'm coaching her to get what I want, which leads me to my next point. You have to explain why. If you're saying choose from the favorites folder, she may or may not adhere but by me saying from a curatorial perspective, these work well when it comes to design. Add for sentimental reasons and all of a sudden, it's freeing her to say "Yes, I agree. "You are good at what you do, I trust you, "I will defer to you." If we don't explain why, we're just going to assume that maybe she wants to go through 800 photos and choose what she wants. What I want you to do is, focusing on what this advice means, is that by you're going to start educating your clients and it's going to prepare them for success. Because what happens is when a client has to go through all of her photos, what you want to do is make the process less daunting. By simply saying "Start here, add this, good." I'm hoping that I'm gonna make it easy as possible. Now I think that the more that you educate your clients, the better your albums will look. If you are telling them why, if you are explaining the process. Sometimes I read from photographers how disappointed they are at way that their albums are being designed because the photos that the clients are choosing aren't the best photos. I have to ask you, what are you doing to prepare them? What are you doing to tell them, that this is what you need? Now here's the beauty of this, feel free to be as specific as you need. My business has matured that I don't have to be as specific, but if you're getting brides who just want 25 formal pictures at the church of family members, there's a chance you should start crafting your outline to be say, anywhere from five to seven family formal pictures is great. Like make your template email what you need it to be to start attracting the type of client who's gonna produce albums in the way that you want them. Now, the harder you work in the beginning, the more enjoyable the process will be. Now, once the client chooses the images and then I edit those images, the way the edit would be what I had showed earlier in my post-processing, how I edit in Photoshop, I'm removing flyaways, I'm doing skin retouching, I'm replacing bouquets or flowers in areas that did not have bouquets or flowers. Now once I'm done with that, I will get the 65 images and I will send them to my album designer. So, again you guys have noticed, I outsource my post-processing and I outsource my album design. So earlier in my career I had made a decision to work with an album designer and a lot of times, people ask me why. I had made mention of his earlier. I had so much to learn. I had Photoshop, I had QuickBooks, I had Kimiiro, I had to learn how to shoot, I had to learn how to pay taxes, I had to balance my job. There were so many moving pieces that I decided, I needed to play to my strengths not my weaknesses. And my strength wasn't really a strength, I was trying to learn photography but I wanted that to be a strength. I knew I never wanted to design albums. If I could just focus on what I wanted, I knew that that thing would eventually come back to me. Now, the thing that I wanted, my focus, was freedom. In the previous lesson we talked about success. One of my key components to success is freedom. I could focus on my business or I could focus on how to design an album. I wanted to focus on my business, I wanted to focus on photography. I did not want to get better at something I felt was a distinct weakness. This is what I want to explain a little bit deeper. One of my key components for success is freedom. One of my key components for success is being able to travel the world. Here is a story where both of those meet and it benefits the client, it benefits me. I hire a graphic designer, she works, her name is Amy with Albumesque. We're gonna talk a little bit more about how the role that she plays. So Jady and I took a trip and we were in Australia and I'll never forget we were sitting on the Gold Coast. The ocean's blue, the sand was hot and it was white and there was Australian lifeguards. None of them better looking than my husband but they were there and I'm thinking this is enjoyable, this is life and I promised Jady that I would not check my email on the beach. While he was in the water and my phone was just like there and I was like, "He won't know." Because I internalize my business, I take it with me. And I said, in Australia boo on the beach, me and you and that's it. And all of sudden I was like ding ding, I was like okay. So I went over to my phone and I got an email from a bride and she had seen her first draft from her album and she's like, "I love it "but I forgot to tell you that, this happened "and this happened and this happened. "So here are a list of changes I need made to the album." and when I looked, I was like (gags) There was like 20 changes to the album. And then I realized I don't do my album. I forwarded the email to my graphic designer and I said, "I'm in Australia here are her changes" and I went back to reading on the beach and my husband was none the wiser. I want to be a photographer, I don't want to be an album designer. That stress that I would carry with me for the next five days of our trip, having to get home and be like wang wang wang. Gotta do my album design, gotta catch up with email, gotta do this, that's not the business I want. I want to play to her strength, I want to play to my strength. Am I as profitable as on my albums as I could be? Maybe not monetarily but time-wise, heck yes. Let's talk a little more about how that looks. What I want to do is I'm going to get online, right about now I'm going to show you, so, here's the thing; once I send the images to Amy, what she's going to do is, she's going to arrange them chronologically. Now, I have to be, because she's amazing. I got images back and I said, "Amy, lets put together an album "for the night room wedding. "Let's show people what it would look like." So when I get the images, Amy will design them for me and she uses a tool called Album Exposure. Album Exposure is fantastic because this is a way to keep all of the client comments and amendments organized in a single app. Now, a couple things I want to point out, is that when Amy sends it to me , I must first approve it before I send it to my client. So, I will go, and I'm gonna walk you through this process. I will go through all the images and if I have notes for her, I write them here and I press add and then I'll tell her to revise. When she revises those, then I send it to my client. Like, I hardly make any revisions because she does such a great job. Once is I see this I say accept and then what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna send it to my client. We're gonna talk about what that process looks like. This is what a client would get. Once I've already approved, then we send this link and I said, "My graphic designer and I finished it. "Here's what you have to do, just leave comments." Now, Album Exposure has a template email built into the system, I simply just personalize it with their name and it's like, here's your album and it outlines all of everything you have to do. So if Samantha wants to change the picture, she's like please change the picture, add. And then all of a sudden when she aggregates, all of her details, she press send, we get an email. Amy gets an email, I get an email about what those changes are. So, let's walk through what this album would look like for Sam and Taylor. This is a 12 by 12 album. They would open it up and this would be, once they turn the cover over, this would be the first page. And we could set this to music but I decided that it's just better for effectiveness. I have told Amy that I prefer stylistically a lot of white space around my albums and if there's not white space, I want full bleed. I don't like a lot of mixing of patterns and I don't like more than four pictures on a full spread. That's max unless we're doing a dancing grid. So you'll see the pattern, here are four pictures, three pictures, two pictures, you guys get the point. We have noted, I like to keep the color and the tonality the same within pictures. So let me back it up one tiny bit. See how this picture is lighter than these pictures? That's why it on its own page. I have a hard time mixing those two. It's just a personal preference and she knows that. When it comes to bride and groom photos, I really just like one on each page. Again, it's a personal preference. So, those are the pictures that I wish I could do over but at the end of the day, will the bride like them? I believe that she will. So, average photos are about 65 photos. If a client gets 800 images, they're putting about 8% of their photos in a wedding album. So, on this page you'll see that there is more photos but usually for reception photos we might add more to kind of create a vibe and what that would look like overall. Amy produced that for me, in her timeline, I'm gonna pop back into the keynote. I'm gonna talk a little bit more about what that looks like. You want to play to your strengths, you wanna focus on your specialty and you wanna focus on freedom. Okay, so what we want to do now is we want to make sure that we want to complete the experience. So now we have; shot the engagement session, we've shot the wedding, we've turned around timeline, we've done emotional marketing. Now my album designer has the album draft for me three days, three business days after I have sent it to her. So I'm turning things around quickly. I'm turning around the edited photos quickly, I'm turning the around the album design quickly, my clients feel like they're being very well taken care of. Now, when a client makes revisions, the client will get revisions back in 36 hours. Now working with the designer has been reflective of my brand. I know that there are other album editing software, I know that people can do it on their own, that's awesome. And I want you to do it if it plays to your strength. Album design did not play to my strength therefore I hired somebody to help my brand improve. Now, once Amy designed the album, Amy's fantastic because she orders my album for me too. It is a completely, am I spoiled? I'm sure I am. I pay her for it, I consider her a part of my business and that's great because I don't have to do it. So she orders my album and then she has the album drop-shipped to the studio. When I get it in the studio, I make sure I go through it, I package it and I send it with a hand written note. Now for all intents and purposes this officially concludes our experience and the business transactional sense. I'm happy with it, I'm proud by it and I stand by it. But, I have a surprise for them. Later on that year, I plan to send them a personalized gift. And so, I wanna talk a little bit about what that looks like. Now, these are wooden boxes that I ordered from White House Custom Color. This is my print lab of choice. I absolutely adore the quality that they produce for prints and products and they're a perfect fit for my brand. Now in early November I start getting all like, I usually shoot my last wedding of the year, most of the time, the second week of November. And truth be told, that's how it's ending up for this year. So around the second week of November, I'm aggregating all of my clients information, I'm ordering these boxes in the middle of November so that I can get them in early December. But let me show you a sneak peek into what one of my boxes look like. Now, this is a five by seven personalized box and it has their photo on top and inside it has six five by seven prints and they are mounted on a 5'6 of an inch styrene. so they're thick, you can wave them, they won't bend. You can even stand them up on their own. Now, I ordered the boxes in the middle of November so that I can have them delivered to me at the beginning of December and then I send them off to my clients. Why am I sending them at the beginning of November? I want my clients to have them on display when their friends and family come over for the holidays. This is another opportunity for marketing in a printed capacity. And the best part, is that when my clients receive this it's not too close to Christmas so that they're receiving other gifts but it's not too far away for Christmas. Anytime that they receive a gift after December first, they are stoked and it makes them feel that it was personal and it was special. So what we do is we get these boxes, we order them, we send them to our client along with a Christmas card. But the best part of this situation which is always what I hope for an ideal situation is that they share this box on social media. If they are getting the box and they can show the box to their friends and family, that's a win. If they share it on social media, it's a double win. Now a lot of the time my clients are tagging their spouse in the Facebook post and most of the time, people have their Facebook and Instagram linked up, at least my clients do. So if they share on Instagram, nine times out of 10, they're sharing on Facebook too. I want to show you a few of what those examples look like. So, this was from Adrienne and she writes, "Came home tonight to this beautiful printed wood box "full of pictures from one of the best days of my life. "My photographer and sweet friend Jasmine Star, "surprised me with this gift, #my photographer is the best, #the gift of friendship #love my Scott, with her husband and me. That's powerful so between Scott and Adrienne, they had close to 1000 friends. So to be able to run into those networks was fantastic. And not only did she think she had a great experience, she's actually taking a picture of the box. That is a commercial for me. Rachel Farley, "Admiring the lovely gift I received today." she tagged me, she tagged, Jady, she tagged her hashtag from her wedding and includes her adorable dog. This is exactly what I want. Because when my clients are updating their status, they're tagging me too, total win. Now this guy Brian, guys are a little bit more shorter with words. (audience laughs) "Thanks for the awesome gift we love it, high-five. With me and he tags my business page and that is okay. I'm totally fine with that but are you guys seeing the pattern? That this is marketing? Okay. Here we go. Let's have with this one. Look at the date, December 20th 2013, about 2 years ago, cool. Here we go, "Thank you so much Jasmine Star "for the most beautiful wood-built wood box "filled with some of our favorite wedding pictures. "What a wonderful surprise for the holidays. "You never cease to amaze us with your talent "and creativity, love it." Cool. Look at this, I didn't screen capture of this and I didn't realize this until a couple of days ago. Kiersten Barash Sloss liked this. I shot Kiersten's wedding in December of 2014. That wedding that I had showed in a previous lesson of the Keyhole designs card, that was her wedding in Chicago, that will now be featured in the Knot Magazine Chicago. Can I say that this box booked me the wedding? I don't know but I think it helped tremendously. How much was this marketing investment? It's about $100 depending on what you get. Depending on what you get, anywhere from $100 to $150. If I book one wedding as a result of this social media coup, I've covered my costs and then some. This is the action of what we do and how we do it. We tie things up with bows. So I want to round out this lesson and I want you to see the pattern. The pattern is one, we wanna set our clients up for success. The pattern is two, we want to manage expectations. And the pattern is three, we want to educate clients to get what we want. If we're not getting what we want, we are not educating our clients in the way that we need to. So once this is done, once we follow the pattern, you wanna personalize the album delivery and if possible after the album delivery, you wanna send a personalized Christmas gift as a way to drum up the end of the year marketing. You wanna know what happens at the end of the year? Any guess what happens around the holidays between boys and girls? Proposals, that's right. When do you want your marketing, naturally as a coup to happen? In December, when are most people, photographers not shooting all that much? December, so what can we do? Create the zhuzh. So, I think this is an action that will guarantee success. Not one thing, all we have gone through, all of these processes through this boot camp. It is not one piece it is a litany of hundreds of pieces that are all working together. I think that this litany, the process, this patroquil, all of this is working together, its prices for what we can do with our businesses. Tell me if there are any questions that you guys have in regards to this right now.
How to make to your client interesting about wedding album and how to explain the value about good quality of wedding album compared to one creepy and more cheap. (audience laughs) Because a lot of time I hear that, "I don't care about good quality I take like one magazine, "it's fine, but I want to try to explain about the value of a nice wedding album to have.
I don't think that this is going to be the answer you to hear, but I'm gonna say it. If I were to go in and I were to buy a car. A very nice car, right. I already think that by me buying a designer car is enough. If the salesperson is trying to say, "But you really need the extra horsepower and you really need," I was gonna say eight disc CD but who has that, I mean the eight track is amazing or they say, if they try selling you on 22 inch rims, it's kind of like, if I don't find value with it, please don't try to sell me on that. If my client wants to make a magazine of her images, do I want that? No, but it doesn't matter what I want. It's her wedding, her curation. Will I facilitate in the magazine making? No, will I facilitate in a less than amazing perfect album experience? No. You can do that on your own. If you want a high-end album, and when my clients see this, and here's the thing, if you're not meeting your clients in person, I have done this heavily because I am now booking a lot of destination weddings. I blog at least twice a year what my albums look like. When a client is deciding, I don't know if I should have, sometimes we have a, what we call our studio fee, our shoot only collection which us to shoot and the client gets the digital negatives and then later on she's like, "I'm not sure if I want an album." I will send her links to all the albums so she can see them online, so she can see what she would be purchasing. I do as much as I can the on the front end but at the end of the day, it is my client's choice and I'll absolutely adhere to that. I know there are a lot of people that disagree with that. It's your first filming heirloom. These are the things that stand by you for the rest of your life. We could say this until we're blue in the face but I would rather maintain the integrity of my relationship with my client by educating her, then giving her options and saying, "You can make the decision that's best for you."
In your experience are more the client that pick the album compared to the client that says, "I don't care, I don't want?"
Oh yes. Yeah. I mean I would probably say nine out of 10 clients are choosing an album, yeah. And even when the clients choose to start up because maybe budget considerations, they'll hire us for a shoot only. At a later point in time like six months later once like finances are kind regulated, they will order one. And I'm more than happy to facilitate. Awesome. I think we're gonna go here and then here, if that's okay.
I'm curious if you do any parent gifts like if the parents are paying or if you include them into the gifts at all.
That is a great question. The general answer would be that due to my, in the beginning we talked about defining who your client is. And I know who my client is down to a Te. And I also know that my client, or vast majority are paying for the wedding on their own. So no, I wouldn't be sending, I send gifts to where the money comes. If you are in a younger demographic, so traditionally brides around 19 and 25, they're having their parents pay for the wedding and if the money tree at that source is the parents and absolutely I would send something small, absolutely. Absolutely, you want her parents talking to her friends parents about what they paid you and how great of an experience they had with you. So, generally no but if you feel like that's a benefit to your business, absolutely. Doesn't have to be as extensive as the wood box, No, but anything thoughtful will really go along way.
How do you manage expectations about albums where you have a client who's ready, they've got their favorites but yet you're working on the last two weddings that you have and I feel like that's my priority to get those finished, edited, returned to the clients and these clients wanting you to start working on their album.
Okay, let me back that up. Okay, so I am total, I am like a nerd to, I am like the president of nerd club. I listen to podcasts all the time and one of these podcasts, I was listening to a very interesting interview about a psychologist who talked about relationships and experiences and you can go... The story he had said was, you can go to Europe and have a fantastic trip with your spouse. Two weeks of insane moments and delicious things and sweet smells and beautiful visions. But if on that last day your flight gets delayed and you're sitting in the airport and you're upset and you missed a meeting and the babysitter's late, you're gonna look back at that vacation and remember the end. Do not drop the ball. This is the tying of the bow. If you had to choose a priority, my first thing would say outsource. If you can't stay above water, get a life vest, get a life saver thing, right. Is that what they're called? I wanted to just go, I wanted to start preaching. You're drowning, I see you. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. The longer you wait on that album the less satisfied that client will be. And a dissatisfied client, again another statistic that I learnt A dissatisfied client tells eight people and a satisfied client tells two. It is worse to keep somebody upset at the end of the game. Let me give you Amy's information, Albumesque. Yeah, it's Albumesque. A-L-B-U-M-E-S-Q-U-E.com and you will see she had a 50% discount for people who want to try her services for the first time. If you're buried, at least try her once. I mean get a little bit of your life back at minimum. That's a great question and I'm glad that you're open to reveal those struggles because you are one of thousands of photographers who are trying to balance it all. You have to ask for help, you do. You absolutely do. Are there any other questions? You guys thank you. This section is always 100 like we're in that last little kind of like sprint as we tied this up. I wanna thank you guys from the beginning to the middle and the end. You guys I appreciate you. I hope that when you guys design you albums, it's now a joyful process and an opportunity to create lots of marketing opportunities and happy clients. Thank you. (audience applause)