Chapter 3: Albums & Products
Asking yourself whether your should offer your clients books and/or other products as an extra service after the wedding is a relevant question.
The first thing to do is to consider carefully if you even WANT to. Do you truly LOVE putting these books together?
If this isn't your favourite thing but a dreaded task thing on your to-do list, you have two options.
Simply don't offer books! Just refer your clients to the best quality consumer access design service and company out there.
If you think a book is a great service to offer your clients and a big part of your high end brand, outsource your album design!
If putting your images together in a book to tell your clients' story is one of your favourite tasks, there are still a few important things to consider.
I will never recommend that you offer low quality or easily accessible books from cheap suppliers online in the beginning of your business. The quality just won't last. They can make those books themselves. Rather wait to start offering books at all until you:
Are creating consistent quality images at every single wedding.
Can afford to order at least one sample album.
Are at a price point where it makes sense for your clients to also invest in a high quality book exclusively available to pro photographers.
Pricing your books:
Next, how do you price your books? You have to price the book in a way that ensures you have an actual profit. And you should at least factor in the following:
The number of hours it takes you to locate/handle the photo files, design the pages, order the book, check it for mistakes when it arrives and ship it on to your client.
The actual amount the company charges you for making the book.
Shipping from both the company to you, and then from you to your client.
Depending on where you are based vs where your book supplier is based there may be a toll/import fee
My clients choose their 250 favourite images in their online PASS gallery, which I can also access from the backend of PASS.
When they tell me they're ready with their selection, I send them the invoice. You should always! ask for payment upfront, at the time the client places the order. I cannot tell you how many times I've been let down in my early years, spending hours and hours creating the design, making adjustments and changes based on the clients requests, emailing back and forth, only to have the client back out of the deal right when I was about to place their order for printing or simply "disappear" and stop responding to my emails once I sent them the invoice. For the past many years I have not started the design process until my clients have paid their invoice.
Once the money lands in my account I locate the corresponding bigger size files of their favourites in my harddrive and create a folder with them on my desktop.
I then create the page design in my albums provider's design software (In advance, my clients have been made aware of the fact that I will use my eye and experience to determine the sequence and combination of images, so they will not be able to make changes to the final design, and that I may or may not need to eliminate a few images to make the overall design flow) They have their part of the control in the sense that they choose the images that go in the book, and are completely fine to let me create the final book (another great advantage of working with clients who are not "bridezillas" or control freak types and who have complete trust in my abilities and artistic eye)
Unless you have a very good reason not to, I will always recommend not to use the drop-ship feature but have the book sent to you directly and then send it on to your clients afterwards yourself. Here is why:
-You have the chance to check that everything is as it's supposed to be, thus avoiding your client receiving a flawed or wrong product.
-It gives you the chance to add a personal note or greeting to the package.
-You can photograph the book for your website/blog or info pdf.
When/if you are ready to start offering albums, take a tour of the websites of different suppliers (you can find a list of the very best in the Resources section) and decide which would be the best match for both your clients and the types of weddings they put on as well as for your brand, values, and taste.