Most people start their businesses because they have a passion. I started my business because of my passion for photography. Ever since I was a young girl, I loved taking pictures, developing them, and making albums. What a wonderful concept--working for myself and doing what I love and enjoy. I tried different types of photography and found that I loved photographing weddings. Photographing couples in love and capturing their emotions on their special day is so rewarding. However, I realized that I needed help setting myself apart from all the other wedding photographers in the Los Angeles area.
There are thousands of wedding photographers in the L.A. area alone. How could I make my company so unique that it would stand out. How do engaged couples choose a wedding photographer? What can I do to get them to select me? I looked online at other wedding photographers' websites--[and found] people are getting bombarded with information overload.
After much soul-searching and online research, it became apparent to me that since there are so many wedding photographers in the Los Angeles area, I needed to offer something special to set myself apart. My photo packages all include a complimentary engagement photo session. These photos are used as gifts for guests or as a sign-in board at the wedding.
I decided to offer a custom-designed guest book for the wedding reception, which would incorporate my clients' engagement photos. Instead of boring, plain, lined sign-in pages, I use page layouts and backgrounds from a company called Picaboo to design the guest books. Picaboo's program is downloaded to your computer; then just upload photos, select pages and layouts, and your book is produced. Each album is unique because there are 10,000 backgrounds available, and you can also use your own background images. In addition, there are more than 240 page layouts available.
The cover page always features the couple together and can be viewed through a window opening on the front cover of the book, which can be ordered in linen or Italian leather. When you open the cover, the date of the wedding and name of the couple is featured on the first page. The rest of the book features photos of the bride-to-be and groom-to-be and various romantic poses of the couple from the engagement session.
After the first guest book arrived, I knew I was onto something great. My clients loved the customized album, and their wedding guests commented on what a unique and wonderful book it was to sign. The bride and groom felt that this book was an awesome keepsake that would be proudly shown along with their wedding album, instead of just being shoved in a drawer and forgotten.
Once the guest book is produced, you can save the book as a PDF that can be shared by the bride and groom via email to their family and friends. You can also share the book via your own website, email newsletter, or email blast to potential clients. What a great way to market yourself to future brides.
By offering these customized guest books, my revenue has increased by 20 percent. Prices for the books start at $29.99 for a 20-page 11x8.5 fine-linen-cover album with glossy archival-quality paper. Professional photographers can join the Professional Photographer Program, which entitles members to discounts on all orders, VIP support, and no Picaboo branding on the products.
Now when I meet with prospective clients, I show them the sample guest book along with the wedding albums. The guest book creates additional revenue for my studio and provides another tangible item to add to their memories. It also gives my clients another perspective of my work, and a memory of their casual, fun, pre-wedding excitement.
By diversifying my product offerings, I have increased my profits and offered my clients something that they wouldn't get with any other photographer. It has been so successful that I am now planning to offer custom "save the date" cards, engagement cards, and thank-you cards to clients. I would recommend that all small-business owners research new applications for their work, offer something unique that no one else is offering, and make existing products more unique.
FELICIA TAUSIG (www.photosbyfelicia.com) of Photos by Felicia in Valencia, CA is a member of WPPI and the Santa Clarita Valley Photographers Association, as well as a recipient of national and international PPA awards and an Accolade of Excellence from WPPI.