Author Topic: Digital Only...  (Read 2065 times)

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Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #100 on: June 21, 2017, 05:01:53 PM »
I think it's total a fallacy to automatically assume a lost sale is due to a cheap client / lowballer. This is a mistake I used to make all the time and one I work hard not to make any longer.
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Offline Joe Federer

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #101 on: June 21, 2017, 10:18:20 PM »
But sometimes it is right...

I mean, if Todd's averaging 1k per client (or whatever) and someone comes and says "I've got a hundred bucks to spend..." ...

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #102 on: June 22, 2017, 06:27:17 AM »
I think it's total a fallacy to automatically assume a lost sale is due to a cheap client / lowballer. This is a mistake I used to make all the time and one I work hard not to make any longer.

Well, the guy in question was offered the session and a single image for $100 and that was too high.  In fact, he used a few expletives when I said it.

I just think he hadn't bothered to read all of that annoying text and info on my web site that would've indicated that he probably wasn't going to get stuff ultra cheap.

Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #103 on: June 22, 2017, 06:33:54 AM »
I think it's total a fallacy to automatically assume a lost sale is due to a cheap client / lowballer. This is a mistake I used to make all the time and one I work hard not to make any longer.

Well, the guy in question was offered the session and a single image for $100 and that was too high.  In fact, he used a few expletives when I said it.

I just think he hadn't bothered to read all of that annoying text and info on my web site that would've indicated that he probably wasn't going to get stuff ultra cheap.

Oh, well that's not how it was described. I suppose when someone moves on to cursing about prices then maybe it's not an assumption they don't want to pay much.

Otherwise, I stand by my statement. It's OUR job to at least lead the horse to water.
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Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #104 on: June 23, 2017, 06:15:23 AM »
Another example:

www.lauradark.net

She seems to only provide digital.  I noticed this package:

Quote
ULTIMATE HALF DAY

($200 deposit)

This session includes 3 sessions in one!  2 hair styles, 2 makeup looks, 3 wardrobe changes, pose coaching, 20 hi res images, a lay flat book and a print release

HALF DAY SESSION: $689

1 pinup or boudoir look

1 Ethereal or Victorian look

1 Gothic look

1 lay flat book

20 hi res images

So, she's doing all of this for $689.  I'm not sure how she might get a $1500 sale, or even a $1000 sale with add-ons if she's already giving away the hi res images.  She might, but it's probably rare.

I don't think she cares.  She appears to run on volume.  In many of her sessions, she's shooting people for 30 minutes and getting a few hundred dollars.  It appears they're being extracted and dropped into pre-planned backgrounds, then they get 4 hi res images.  She has 90,000 likes on Facebook, so I'm assuming business is good.

Thoughts?


« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 06:28:21 AM by Todd Muskopf »

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #105 on: June 23, 2017, 06:33:53 AM »
I think it's total a fallacy to automatically assume a lost sale is due to a cheap client / lowballer. This is a mistake I used to make all the time and one I work hard not to make any longer.

Well, the guy in question was offered the session and a single image for $100 and that was too high.  In fact, he used a few expletives when I said it.

I just think he hadn't bothered to read all of that annoying text and info on my web site that would've indicated that he probably wasn't going to get stuff ultra cheap.

Oh, well that's not how it was described. I suppose when someone moves on to cursing about prices then maybe it's not an assumption they don't want to pay much.

Otherwise, I stand by my statement. It's OUR job to at least lead the horse to water.

This is what I offered:
Quote
do a short session for $25 and you can buy digital files, one for $75, 5 for $300, 10 for $500."  He flipped.  "I thought I could just pay $150 and get everything".

I really don't want to be doing a short session and handing a hi res file for less than $100.   When you think about it, $75 is dirt cheap for the file.  I'm charging $50 for an 8x10.

Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #106 on: June 23, 2017, 08:30:25 AM »
It's not dirt cheap if you limit the file size.

It's about use. For me, value in digital comes in a few forms. Personally, I want digital for the following reasons:

1) A digital copy to preserve forever.
2) Ability to make a print whenever I need/want.
3) Ability to easily share, post, email, etc.

These three needs alone could be price differently. I don't expect full res for #3. I expect full res for #2 but only if I feel the image warrants a larger size. I have several cherished images of my daughter that I would never, ever print larger than 4x6 for any reason. So if a photogrpaher wanted to charge more for a 16x24 image, I would just opt for the cheapest digital size offered.

I think you're still comparing apples to oranges.

Honestly, while I recommend having a digital delivery menu for studios like Todd's, I don't think it will be very successful. I think you either shift pricing and focus on digital or you don't. The in-between just doesn't compete well. I think the best way to compete at a higher level would be to charge much more up front and offer a nice digital bundle and not be so stuck on prints.

Just think of any prints you sell as gravy that you don't need.

Otherwise, I think it will always be a struggle in this day and age to do both. To be successful, I think you either have to compete at the highest end of the volume shooter model or you go old school and be different. I think those who have struck a balance are very, very rare.
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Offline Houston George

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #107 on: June 23, 2017, 08:56:26 AM »
Quote
Thoughts?

Maybe you should get some wolves?  ;)

Seriously though, I have a question concerning this whole digital only pricing thing that's become somewhat of a dilemma for you. Do you feel you're losing business because you aren't offering digital only? My impression, based on your posts on this forum, is that you do very well and stay busy with your current offerings, correct? Did you toil as much in arriving at your current pricing? I'm sure you're not the cheapest photographer in your area, but you appear to do quite well in spite of that which tells me people come to you for other reasons (superior quality? superior CS?).

So why the concern now for what the competition is doing or charging? Are you seeing a steady decline in business because you aren't offering digital only? or do the inquires just create pressure to offer digital? Is it fair to say maybe you're trying to fix something that isn't broke? If your current  business model is working, and you enjoy a steady diet of clients who DO order prints without demanding digital files, couldn't you do more harm than good if you start offering digital only? Couldn't you possibly end up selling digital files to clients who otherwise would have been happy ordering print products through you but opted for files because they are now offered?

Obviously, if you settle on pricing that negates the loss of print sales then everything I said is null and void. It just seems that you're struggling with pressure to price down for files, but maybe my impression is wrong. 
Houston

Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #108 on: June 23, 2017, 09:39:54 AM »
Another example:

www.lauradark.net

She seems to only provide digital.  I noticed this package:

Quote
ULTIMATE HALF DAY

($200 deposit)

This session includes 3 sessions in one!  2 hair styles, 2 makeup looks, 3 wardrobe changes, pose coaching, 20 hi res images, a lay flat book and a print release

HALF DAY SESSION: $689

1 pinup or boudoir look

1 Ethereal or Victorian look

1 Gothic look

1 lay flat book

20 hi res images

So, she's doing all of this for $689.  I'm not sure how she might get a $1500 sale, or even a $1000 sale with add-ons if she's already giving away the hi res images.  She might, but it's probably rare.

I don't think she cares.  She appears to run on volume.  In many of her sessions, she's shooting people for 30 minutes and getting a few hundred dollars.  It appears they're being extracted and dropped into pre-planned backgrounds, then they get 4 hi res images.  She has 90,000 likes on Facebook, so I'm assuming business is good.

Thoughts?




First of all - I think her website is terrific for the product she offers. Pay attention to what she's done here as you look to get your CBP website out of the 90's as well.

I see she has a "team" of go-to people. Her net profit would appear a bit strained given a modest payout to all those people. The scheduling manager probably works for peanuts and/or is a friend/BF/relative.

Based on the FAQ, it sounds like the MUA and stylist could be prepping more than one client at a time. Not sure.

Pricing model - not as bad as you think. 20 images probably equals 20 layflat book pages and we know how cheap those are to produce. It would take a few seconds to create that book once the editing is done. Upload, purchase, ship. Simple.

So she could easily make good $$ on the additional image offerings. I don't see how much she is charging for those.

She could also be pushing pinup parties - lots of $$ to be made on those as the individual participant fee is enticing and she can quickly rotate the girls through to maximize # of images available for purchase. Good way to get some a la carte where she normally wouldn't.
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Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #109 on: June 23, 2017, 09:47:50 AM »
Quote
Thoughts?

Maybe you should get some wolves?  ;)

Seriously though, I have a question concerning this whole digital only pricing thing that's become somewhat of a dilemma for you. Do you feel you're losing business because you aren't offering digital only? My impression, based on your posts on this forum, is that you do very well and stay busy with your current offerings, correct? Did you toil as much in arriving at your current pricing? I'm sure you're not the cheapest photographer in your area, but you appear to do quite well in spite of that which tells me people come to you for other reasons (superior quality? superior CS?).

So why the concern now for what the competition is doing or charging? Are you seeing a steady decline in business because you aren't offering digital only? or do the inquires just create pressure to offer digital? Is it fair to say maybe you're trying to fix something that isn't broke? If your current  business model is working, and you enjoy a steady diet of clients who DO order prints without demanding digital files, couldn't you do more harm than good if you start offering digital only? Couldn't you possibly end up selling digital files to clients who otherwise would have been happy ordering print products through you but opted for files because they are now offered?

Obviously, if you settle on pricing that negates the loss of print sales then everything I said is null and void. It just seems that you're struggling with pressure to price down for files, but maybe my impression is wrong.

I get this "digital only" question for CBP or seniors about once a week, and I've always said no, but I just thought it would be a good thing to discuss. 

I'm still leaning towards keeping things as they are.

I think digital only would work well for people who want to simplify their processes and eliminate the vast majority of the sales session-- Pick your 4 photos.  Do you want to add any more?  OK, we're done.  Boom! 10 minute sales session.  No ordering or layouts to worry about.  Take this and good luck.

Keep the volume up and the price doesn't have to be overly high to be very profitable.

I can see it.

Just not for me.  It's not what I want to be doing at this point.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #110 on: June 23, 2017, 10:00:43 AM »
A thought:  (no wolves harmed in the making of this thought).

Figure out your average total sale, everything included, remove your costs of materials and charge that for digital only.  Base the number of files delivered on your average number of files sold as prints or albums.

Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #111 on: June 23, 2017, 11:37:29 AM »
A thought:  (no wolves harmed in the making of this thought).

Figure out your average total sale, everything included, remove your costs of materials and charge that for digital only.  Base the number of files delivered on your average number of files sold as prints or albums.

That thought's on post #2 and elsewhere on thread and so far no wolves...lol...
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Offline Houston George

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #112 on: June 23, 2017, 05:28:59 PM »
The more I digest all of this, I'm thinking Darren is probably right in saying that digital and print packages don't coexist well. Jeff's formula is perfectly sensible, but would result in the "up front" cost being more for digital delivery. As ridiculous as it is, people would probably have a hard time wrapping their brains around spending $1200 up front as opposed to $800 followed by another $500 in prints a month later. Human nature is fickle that way.

At the end of the day, this whole discussion at least brings to light the reality of more people wanting, or expecting digital files. I've shot two digital only weddings so far this year and have a third coming up in September. It's a first for me. I must say it's nice not spending the time building albums. 
Houston

Offline Duck

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #113 on: June 24, 2017, 01:14:43 AM »
[..]I must say it's nice not spending the time building albums.

Well, you could always build digital albums complete with background music and fancy wipes and charge a fee for that.
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Offline Nanette Reid

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #114 on: June 24, 2017, 02:25:30 AM »
Well, you could always build digital albums complete with background music and fancy wipes and charge a fee for that.

We do this for our hotel clients - the very best "hero shots" as a slideshow. They get used in their marketing materials and in some of their hotels, they run it on a loop in the lobby or the elevators.

With some slick muzak, it works a treat!

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #115 on: June 24, 2017, 08:51:23 AM »
Houston's observation is certainly accurate.  As someone who primarily delivers digital these days for commercial use, charging 50% up front and 50% on delivery, I've found little difficulty with the occasional retail client by breaking it into thirds.  1/3 to reserve, 1/3 at the shoot and 1/3 on delivery.  The final cost is the the same, but in smaller bites.  Smaller bites reduces objections enough to make a difference.  Most want digital, as we've witnessed, so I got a nice presentation box made for USB drives with my logo and collect in thirds.  I believe the presentation helps in perceived value.

Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #116 on: June 24, 2017, 09:03:27 AM »
Gorgeous, Jeff. If you're going to deliver a thumb drive, do it right! :)
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Offline DouglasB

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #117 on: June 25, 2017, 04:30:21 PM »
Very nice indeed, Jeff.

From what I believe, perception can be a huge element.

I know an artist that does the same 1/3 increments as well as it is working well for them, too.

Offline Joe Federer

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #118 on: June 25, 2017, 11:19:54 PM »
Another example:

www.lauradark.net

She seems to only provide digital.  I noticed this package:

Quote
ULTIMATE HALF DAY

($200 deposit)

This session includes 3 sessions in one!  2 hair styles, 2 makeup looks, 3 wardrobe changes, pose coaching, 20 hi res images, a lay flat book and a print release

HALF DAY SESSION: $689

1 pinup or boudoir look

1 Ethereal or Victorian look

1 Gothic look

1 lay flat book

20 hi res images

So, she's doing all of this for $689.  I'm not sure how she might get a $1500 sale, or even a $1000 sale with add-ons if she's already giving away the hi res images.  She might, but it's probably rare.

I don't think she cares.  She appears to run on volume.  In many of her sessions, she's shooting people for 30 minutes and getting a few hundred dollars.  It appears they're being extracted and dropped into pre-planned backgrounds, then they get 4 hi res images.  She has 90,000 likes on Facebook, so I'm assuming business is good.

Thoughts?

I haven't sussed through the rest of this thread...

But I've got two points --
1) Finding one person/business that is making something work/fail doesn't prove anything.  For example - what works for me, would fail for others.  (I suspect meeting clients with zero example images while drinking a few beers in a parking lot of an old A&W-turned-brewpub and expecting them to commission a 5-10k booking (depending on where I was in my career) is probably not something that's going to be a good model for everyone... but it works really well for me) that will result in nothing more than a download link in the end... probably wouldn't work well for a lot of people and copying me would fail).  We need to be careful putting too much credence in what a single other person is doing (or not doing) and just make sure what YOU are doing works for YOU.    For every person doing a $100 full day session and giving away 50 files... I can find a person charging 2k for 30 minutes.  (okay, maybe not 1:1, but you get the point)

2) Even with point #1, do the math.  If she's paying $100 for the makeup/hair person and has $89 in materials, and other things (say it's all just batched and she can average booking a client a day and doing the editing within the 4-5 hours the 'other half' of the day offers.  I mean, with 90k likes, you know she's got a foolproof workflow.)...  and she does one 'half day' session a day ... she's still pulling in 10k/mo ... even without a single additional sale.  Then factor in that, like you said, most of her sales are probably smaller but have more profit/hour.   Tweak in some slow months and vacations and such and she's still doing amazing.  To somehow claim that making 100k+ per year with digital-only sales is "giving it away" ... shoot, I'll give it away all day! hah.    Even if she only shoots every other day, doesn't even OFFER add-on sales, and all her bookings are this 'bulk discount' half-day affair... she's still making more than the average photographer (average photographer in the US makes 48k).   The delivery mechanism doesn't seem to be slowing her up.... in fact, it's probably making her more money.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 11:26:23 PM by Joe Federer »

Offline Houston George

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #119 on: June 27, 2017, 07:52:23 PM »
Quote
We need to be careful putting too much credence in what a single other person is doing (or not doing) and just make sure what YOU are doing works for YOU.

Very sound advice right there. I once worked for a company whose owner was constantly visiting like businesses all over the country to see how others did things. He would often return and immediately implement different strategies based on what he had seen elsewhere. More often than not the changes made us less efficient and did more harm than good. He was locked into a mindset that anyone doing things differently must be doing it better. The proverbial grass was always greener on the other side, even when it wasn't. 
Houston

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #120 on: July 24, 2017, 11:04:40 AM »
Todd, I just received this add from Profoto.  Obviously it's what you're doing as well.  If this guy can get mileage with a gear manufacturer, so can you. 

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #121 on: August 22, 2017, 12:32:13 PM »
Follow up:

I decided to make a group of "top tier" packages with an album or book, canvas, set of prints, and full res digital files.  This is the only way to get full res from me.

One of those sold for $2500 yesterday.

Offline Jeff Behm

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #122 on: August 22, 2017, 12:43:03 PM »
There's your answer!

Offline Todd Muskopf

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #123 on: August 22, 2017, 02:02:04 PM »
I saw Skip Cohen talking about Chris Knight, so I checked him out.  He has a book out that I bought on Kindle.  I'd recommend not getting the book.  It's called "The Dramatic Portrait" or similar.

The first half of the book is art history about portraits.  The second half is basics on lighting, modifiers, etc.  Pretty boring stuff, at least for me.


Offline Nanette Reid

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Re: Digital Only...
« Reply #124 on: August 22, 2017, 11:05:07 PM »
Follow up:

I decided to make a group of "top tier" packages with an album or book, canvas, set of prints, and full res digital files.  This is the only way to get full res from me.

One of those sold for $2500 yesterday.

Bingo!! Everyone wins in this scenario - well done, Todd. :)