If you are just getting started, starting over in a new place, thinking about making the leap to full time or wishing that there was a way you could give back to your community with photography, you must listen to today’s show with photographer Michelle Simmons of The Suitcase Studio. Michelle shares SO MUCH good information about her pricing journey, using social media for marketing, her email workflow and how she’s using StickyFolios to market and book special sessions for tweens.
After doing photography part time for 8 years, Michelle moved from Orange County CA to Bend, OR and she made the leap to being a full time photographer. Before the move, Michelle started tagging her Instagram photos with hashtags that were being used in her new community. By doing this, she was able to meet other creatives and small business owners and build relationships online. When she arrived in Bend, she was able to hit the ground running and the didn’t feel like the new kid in town. With the help of social media, she’s also been able to keep a presence in OC. She recently went back and did 22 session there in one weekend!
The “Who I Am” Project
With her background in psychology, art therapy and working in group homes for children Michelle has a photography project that she is passionate about. Through the “Who I Am” project, Michelle does sessions for kids between the ages of 10 and 12. The images are presented as a slideshow with quotes from the child’s parents, teachers, coached, etc…To reserve a spot on her calendar, it costs $99. That money is then treated as a credit towards products.
One of my favorite parts about this conversation is how honest Michelle is about her pricing journey and the fact that it’s still evolving. While Michelle wants clients to have something tangible and not just the digitals, because of her session offerings and the fact that she works in OC and Bend, Oregon she has a wide range of clients and some of them are harder to sell products to. She currently considers herself an “in between photographer” selling both products and digital files. While she has done in person sales in the past, and saw their benefit (her sales doubled and even tripled) she currently doesn’t have time to do in person sales sessions with everyone. What works right now, and may change in the future, is selling sessions with digital files to most of her clients. She’s available for in person meeting and extra hand holding if a client wants that or needs it. Doing this, frees her up to create products for her “Who I Am” clients, which is what she loves and enjoys doing most.
Michelle’s been told that communicating with her is the best experience that people have had with any business. Prior to each session, clients get three different emails from her, including a 48 hour reminder with last minute details. Each email has a link to her pricing so that it’s in front of them every time they hear from her and there is not sticker shock at the end when it’s time to make the sale. By breaking the important session details down into manageable chunks, it’s more likely that people will actually read them.
We mentioned earlier that Michelle recently did 22 session in OC in one weekend. Just hearing that makes my head spin! It seems like so much to keep track of! With the help of StickyFolios, Michelle was seamlessly able to market session, book them and collect session fees and then used her client management software to automatically send out emails. She used Folios Mini Session Template to advertise the sessions and collect interest, the Pricing Template to share pricing and products and then after the session and orders were placed, each client received a StickyAlbum with their slideshow embedded in it. All of these Folio products link to each other, creating a marketing funnel and allowing the cycle to repeat itself over and over. By breaking the big ask of “do you want to be my customer” down into baby steps, she is able to gradually share and nurture until prospective clients are ready to buy.