Photographers. Here’s why you should stop producing storybook wedding albums. Immediately!
As a busy wedding and portrait photographer myself, I am continually looking at ways of improving my workflow – and there are two key reasons why:-
1. To increase my efficiency
2. To increase my profits
And both go hand in hand.
Efficiency is an obvious one – You see, the less time I spend doing something IN the business, the more time I can focus ON the business, generating new leads and working on marketing and business growth strategies.
You’ll notice I mention the “P” word – profits. And I even used the word “Increase” in the same sentence.
Increasing profits is something that many of us seem to avoid – it’s almost like it’s a “bad” thing to do – but remember without profit, what are we in business for? Sadly these days, too many photographers seem to fail in the most basic fundamentals of business. You need to make money.
But firstly, let’s get things straight. Weddings are hard work. We all know it.
Never mind the physical and mental strain of the wedding day itself, there are the meetings leading up to the wedding, all the editing – cleaning the files to a consistent exposure and white balance, before the creative work begins transforming those flat digital images into something worthy of your brand. It all takes time. But we get there, don’t we.
And then we get to the album.
Oh the album! Oh boy do we love the album process, right? No?
You mean you don’t like all those weeks and months of further engagement with the couple tweaking this, tweaking that? Changing this, changing that? Swap that page, move that picture, etc etc until finally what seems like years later, they sign the design off. And when they do, it’s usually after they have wrecked your wonderful design – yuck!
Of course, even before the client gets a chance to look at it, albums can of course take a while to design – I watched a good friend of mine spend 4 or 5 hours designing a storybook wedding album for a client – it looked lovely – BUT 4 or 5 hours? Then add 3 or 4 client change requests and he probably has spent another 4 or 5 hours on the album – that’s longer than it took to shoot the wedding!
And you know who’s fault it is? Whoever came up with that pesky “Storybook Wedding Album” idea LOL
Now, to clarify – what I mean when I talk about a “storybook wedding album”, I am referring to one of those album designs laid out in a very haphazard way, where design rules seem to have been chucked out the window – with images in the background, lots of different sized images, every page different – by my definition, what I am really talking about here is a design style – not the physical book. And I see lots of them. At every wedding fayre, and as samples at wedding venues.
Storybook wedding albums (aka magazine style) are by their very nature an album whose design process will suck you in – you will tweak it here, tweak it there – until it looks just perfect. You try and try to make it look just like one of those Jerry Ghionis wedding albums you saw featured at a photography convention you were once at.
But you know what – that storybook/magazine album layout has four key design flaws:-
- It takes flipping ages to design
- Because the design is so fluid, your client can go wild asking for changes.
- As a contemporary product it is doomed to look “old fashioned” in years to come
- Most photographers are not designers, so this fluid design allows us to design something that totally sucks!
So, what’s the answer?
Stop doing them!
They are costing your business lost profits in time and efficiency.
Now, I’m not saying stop doing wedding albums – most certainly not – if you want to attract a medium to high end discerning client you need a tangible product and I think it’s almost criminal not to include an album – purely because that happy couple will most likely lose those digital files you no doubt also supply before their 2nd or 3rd wedding anniversary.
We won’t photograph a wedding without an album – just ask our friends at Loxley Colour who we highly recommend.
No, what I am saying is to ADAPT your product offering.
We all know that old saying “KISS” = “Keep it Simple, Stupid”.
So, why not simplify your album process?
Go back to the classic album layout.
A grid of 4 or less images on a white or black canvas (we use 6 images for the details) . Just like the old classics. But flush mounted – and in chronological order, just like your storybook album.
Make your albums the same basic way each time, and you know what, you will actually end up with a better, classier product that will take far less time to design.
It will also be timeless in its elegance and you will be able to charge more for it.
“It takes less time and I can charge more! WTF is this sh!t” I hear you say?
“But the clients see storybook wedding albums at the wedding fayres – they love them!”
Well yes, they do, but here’s how you change their mindset towards a classier, simpler product that will stand the test of time.
So, let me explain our Album sales process.
We have three Album collections – Silver, Gold and Platinum
“Silver” is our opening starting price album designed for smaller weddings – There is only one album in the Silver collection – it’s a small 8×10 format, 20 page, leatherette album (We rarely get a client selecting it – maybe one a year). Which is great as it proves my marketing works in that I am attracting clients that will pay more and will want a better album.
The Gold is our focus market – it’s our pricing and profit “sweet spot” – because of this ,we offer three albums, of escalating quality and price in that collection.
The first one of the three in the Gold Collection is the “Storybook” album – yes that one I don’t want to sell, and it takes ages to design and sucks into my profits.
It’s the least expensive of the three in our “Gold” offering, but I rarely, if ever, sell it.
Well, when showing the album I point out its flaws:-
- Firstly, it has less pages (30 as opposed to the 40 and 50 pages of the other two Gold Collection albums).
- I point out to them that it is indeed a “contemporary” album, so they need to be aware that it will actually “date” itself in years to come.
- And I also point out that storybook albums were all the rage 5 or 6 years ago and how brides are now moving towards the timeless “classic” style albums
So can you see what I am doing here – I am using the product to “unsell itself”.
Next, I show them my “Gold Classic” album which is a 40 page album with a simple 4, 3, 2 or 1 images-to-a-page grid-based template design. (Disclaimer: We also use a 6 grid layout for the bridal and table details.)
It literally takes 20 minutes to design – it looks classy and let’s my images speak to the client without some cluttered storybook style overcrowding the images.
I explain why it’s a better product:-
- It’s timeless.
- It will not date.
- The design won’t look like a 1970’s wallpaper does now.
- It’s a classic.
And you you know what, as soon as the clients see it and realise that the “fancy” storybook album will indeed date itself, I have them hooked.
So I gain two things. Firstly I’ve got my client right in the middle of my pricing guide – way above my entry price. Secondly, I’ve actually got them paying more for an album that physically costs the same as the storybook album. And it takes me less time to make. A lot less. That’s good business sense.
But what happens next?
Well I then us my “go large” McDonalds strategy (which you can read about here) to get my client to my target average Wedding sale – it’s the same classic design, but I add extra pages and include fine art printing – that’s the third Gold album in our collection – the one we really want to sell them. And you know what? They go for it – Every. Single. Time.
Now some of you may have noticed that we design these “classic” albums on flush mount, just like the storybook albums. Why do we do that? Well that gives us another potential ugrade to matted doesn’t it! (aka our Platinum collection).
So, photographers. Why should you stop selling storybook albums?
Less time to design = less costs = an improved workflow – That spells profit folks!
Let’s ditch the storybook wedding album and get back to the classic – you know it makes sense 😉
Disagree? Tell me why in the comments?
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