I recently had the opportunity to chat with Teri Fode, a senior portrait photographer from Sacramento, CA. Teri is truly an inspiration. She’s been in business for 15 years and along the way, she’s figured out how to turn every client into a customer for life. Tune in to hear how she handles pricing, email marketing and why she never tells anyone that she’s a professional photographer.

(Here are the highlights, but you can watch the full conversation below or listen to the episode on the Momentum podcast).

What Do You Do For a Living?

It’s a simple question. A question that we’ve asked and been asked a hundred times. The way you answer it though can make a huge difference for your business. Years ago, someone asked Teri’s young daughter what her mom did for a living. She responded, “She’s a photographer.”. It was the correct answer but the response from the person asking, “Oh! My sister’s aunt is a photographer!” got Teri thinking. If everyone’s a photographer or knows a photographer, how can you make yourself stand out?

Since that time, Teri has never responded to the question, “What do you do for a living?” with, “I’m a professional photographer.”. Instead, she uses the question as an opportunity to tell people what she does, why she loves it, what’s special about her work and what her clients love about working with her. Trust me, you have to hear her response for yourself. It’s so good that you will want to come up with a response of your own. Lucky for us, Teri generously offers a FREE step-by-step guide for creating your own brand statement on her Voice Your Brand website for photographers.

Have a Conversation About Pricing

A lot of photographers make the mistake of sending a lengthy PDF to potential clients who ask for pricing. If this is how you handle pricing inquiries you are missing an opportunity to sell yourself to potential clients. Terry makes an effort to get every person who asks for pricing on the phone. Why? Many times people are asking for pricing because, even if it’s not their main factor in choosing a photographer, it’s the only question they know to ask.

While she’s on the phone with potential clients, she sends them an online pricing guide that she created with StickyFolios. You can view it HERE. You’ll notice, it does not include her full pricing and there are no products listed. Instead, she shares her three session options, location possibilities, a short video and her brand statement and manifesto. Full pricing is shared when they come in to meet with her. The goal of the online guide is to give people a taste of what it would be like to work with her and to get them and excited about the experience. In Teri’s own words, “I’m not the cheapest photographer in town, but I’m worth it and (with this guide) I just showed you why.”.

Using Email to Create Clients for Life

Today, Teri doesn’t have a marketing problem. 80% of her business is from referrals or repeat clients. This wasn’t always the case though. There was a time when Teri watched clients who loved her hire someone else when it was time for their next child’s senior portraits to be taken. It was confusing and frustrating and is the one thing in her business that she wishes she could redo.

What would she do differently? “Stay in front of the client who has come through the door and spent money and never let them go”. Teri discovered the hard way that people will forget about you if you don’t stay in front of them. The easiest way to stay in front of people is with email.

Every 30 days, Teri sends an email to her list. It’s not a newsletter or a sales pitch. It’s just an email letting them know about her latest content-rich blog post. She writes about fashion, makeup, popular colors, anything that her clients are interested in. The email directs them to the blog post and ends with “PS: By the way….” followed by a call to action. Clients routinely call to book sessions as a result.

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