How To Profit from Selling an Album  |  Product Graphics  |  Album Samples
These tips, written by Clare Kubota, have been very successful in their studio and have been gathered from years of working with professional photographers all over the world.

© 2017 AsukaBook USA: No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, without the prior written consent of AsukaBook USA.

Present yourself as an expert right from the get-go.

If your clients see you as an expert in your field they will loo k to you for advice on everything – what to wear for their session, when and where to do their session, and of course what images they should or der and how their images should be presented. If they see you as the photography expert in every aspect, they easily take your advice on what to order.

Clients constantly ask, “What images are Kevin’s favorite?” when selecting images to order. Nine times out of ten they are looking for your advice and help, so be ready to give it to them by putting a bit of thought into your suggestions and explain to them the reasons behind your answer. By educating your clients they will begin sharing that infor mation with friends and family – and we all know word of mouth is the best advertising!

You sell what you show.

This is powerfully true in the photography business. You absolutely have to have samples of products you want to sell. Select the products you love, showcase your work the best, and are consistent with your style.

If you want to sell a larger album to the parents and a smaller album to grandparents, have samples in both sizes from the same session. If you want to sell albums to your high school senior clients, don’t show them a wedding album sample. Be sure you have a stunning senior album in the exact style you want to sell them; size, page finish, and de sign.

Many album companies offer discounts on studio samples. AsukaBook offers 50% off your first book, plus three 25% off discounts each year, so you can add fresh designs to your sample books annually.

Don’t give your client too many choices.

This tip goes along with the one befor e. Yes, you want to show actual samples of everything you want to sell, however, don’t overwhelm your client with options. We’ve all experienced the three-hour sales meeting where they leave without selecting anything. Ugh! Those ar e not fun. If you offer too many options you will lose them.

If you show them 30 different album cover options, get ready for another hour of indecision. No one needs 30 options! When album companies started coming out with all these amazing cover options, clients still selected the black leather for their wedding album 4 out of 5 times – it just took them longer to select it because they had to contemplate over all their choices first.

You can still have multiple cover samples, just keep them hidden away and only pull out the few you are fairly certain your client will like. If you have a client you know would love that cool red fabric; or the senior girl who only wears turquoise; then have the turquoise with embossed flowers option out when she arrives for your appointment. You get the idea.

Take advantage of the power of words.

Imagine being in a fine dining r estaurant and reading the menu. Then imagine going in to a fast-food r estaurant and reading the board of food choices. There’s a big difference between these two experiences. You’d probably be a bit disappointed if you took your special someone out for an expensive dinner, only to open a menu that said, “meat, a potato, and broccoli.”

Now think about the kind of experience you want to create for your photography clients. You’ve dedicated serious time, money, and craftsmanship into building your business. You want your clients to feel like they are special – like you are the artist to come to for amazing portraits and service. Don’t have a fast-food menu!

Think of your business like that fine dining experience. This wi ll be a great step in getting you on track for cr eating a lucrative business. Use words in your pricing list that drip with high-end essence. Don’t just say you offer a 20-page album. Refer to it as a handcrafted, custom-designed, heirloom album with a fine leather cover.

AsukaBook includes a pair of white cotton gloves (upon request) with your albums. We’ve had many customers tell us how impressed their clients are when they see them handling their albums with the white gloves. They truly feel like they are getting the white glove treatment. Their clients will then ask to keep the white gloves so they ca n use them when looking at their albums.

Packaging for the complete presentation.

When you’re presenting the final album to your client, be sure you are giving them some type of box or nice bag for them to take it home in. It not only stays protected in their car, but adds a great final touch. Most albums do come in some type of box, but many companies sell customized bags and boxes.

All AsukaBook products come with some type of customizable presentation case or box included in the price. One favorite is the designable box included with the Zen Layflat Impact albums. As you open it, the book is lifted out as if being presented to you. Little details like this help build the perceived value of your product, and your business.

Point out the details.

Whether you’re showing a sample for a potential order, or presenting a completed album, be sure to point out the finer details. Talk aboutthe unique page finish, the smooth lay-flat binding, and the beautiful print quality of the images. Let them know you’ve taken the time to find an album company you know will consistently provide high-qualitybooks that will stand the test of time.

Be sure your logo and web address are printed somewhere in the album.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be front and center unless the album is being used for promotional purposes. It can be small or discreet, but should be included every time. We typically put it by itself on the last page of the album. When sharing a beautiful book, you want everyone to know your studio created the album – and how they can get in touch with you.

How much should I charge for an album?

This is by far the most frequently asked question we get. So, if you have a hard time figuring out album pricing, you are not alone. There is no simple answer to this question because there are so many factors to take into consideration. Here are some tips that will help you be sure you are actually making a good profit when selling albums:
  1. Know exactly what your COGS (cost of goods sold) are. This includes much more than just the cost of the actual album. Be sure to include design time, labor, shipping, and any additional packaging you do (ribbon, thank you car d, tissue paper, etc.).
  2. Know how much time it takes you to select images, retouch each one, design the album, send to your client to proof, upload the order to the album company, recheck everything once you receive the album; then present it to your client. It can be a very time consuming process and new photographers often underestimate this – causing profits to plummet. Once you know the average number of hours you spend preparing an album, decide what you are paying yourself, an employee, or an outside service for each step and add this cost to your COGS number.
  3. Know ALL the numbers for #1 and #2 BEFORE you meet with your client or put a price on your albums. If you’re good with Excel, create a spreadsheet. If you want something simpler and more tailored to your photography business, try software specifically for managing your photo business. Depending on your overhead, your COGS should be approximately 30% of the price.
What if you do all this math and find out you should be charging $5,000 for an album? For some photographers, that may seem like too much compared to the rest of their products. You have a couple choices: raise your prices across the board to make sure you are actually profitable, or reduce your COGS.

If lowering COGS is your goal, consider outsourcing the most time-consuming parts of the process. Look at ordering supplies in bulk, and/or research products that will help streamline your album-building workflow. Knowing how much you need to cut from the cost, as well as what the individual items in your COGS are, will be a huge help in getting your pricing in line to make a profit.

Price per image.

Many experienced photographers charge per number of images in the album. Other photographers charge per page, which may not be the best way to go. When you show clients a proof of their album design for approval, they may love the design, but knowing they pay per page they ask to add as many images as possible to the page – cluttering the design and adding to your retouching and layout work. Cluttered album designs rarely showcase your work beautifully!

Adding additional album pages is relatively inexpensive compared to the time it takes to retouch and include several more images. By pricing per image you have a good idea how many pages that album will have as well as the amount of time it will take to do post-processing and design for that many images. If they want more images, have a set price for each additional image.

Recap...albums are great!

Albums can be a great money maker for your studio. They are not just for weddings anymore. For years we’ve sold albums for almost all of our sessions including families, seniors, engagements, and all types of events; and they have increased our bottom line significantly. The key is how you present and price them. Take the time to select books you love and create a streamlined workflow. It will pay off!