Where does the time go? We're all busy with clients, shooting gigs, and trying to manage the business of our studios.
Whenever I hear about the opportunity to reduce my workload and make my life easier, I approach it with skeptical optimism. Lots of products out there make claims of simplifying the workload for photographers, but I want to tell you about one I've found that actually lives up to the hype.
Two years ago, while waiting to pick up my print orders at the counter of my local lab, I overheard another photographer raving about what a great online proofing system Pictology is. He was talking about how fast and easy it is and how much more money he was making in reprint sales. So when I got home, I checked it out. Pictology has become a vital part of my business—saving me time and generating new revenue.
Posting and Selling Is So Easy
Now that I'm using online proofing, I can reach a much bigger audience than before. I can make event photos easily accessible to my clients and their extended family and friends around the world, which has really boosted my sales. A great trick I've learned is that if I design a simple handout with the Web address, event code, and password, it's an easy way for everyone at the event to know how to find the photos and, hopefully, order them.
After an event, I upload the photos with Pictology's simple wizard-based software. Pictology takes over from there. Anyone who may have tried to view the pictures before I uploaded the event will get an email letting them know as soon as the pictures are online. Pictology also handles all of the credit-card processing, which means I don't even need a merchant account. Running credit-card orders was never my favorite part of the business, so I especially like that feature.
Pictology is also a great marketing tool. Almost one-third of the weddings I shoot nowadays are for clients who found me while viewing my work online. I never expected that when I started putting events online, but it has turned into a big boost for my studio.
Another trick I've learned: Offer discounts with my online events. I like to offer clients a 10 percent discount for buying photos within the first two weeks that they're available. This helps drive demand with a sense of urgency. After all, nobody likes to miss out on a good deal. Pictology will automatically show that discounted price for two weeks, post a message when the discount is about to expire—which is great because it prompts customers to order—and then adjust the price after the discount period is over.
Processing Is a Snap
Before using Pictology, when I received an order I would need to track down the photos and either FTP them to my lab or burn them onto a CD and hand-deliver them to the lab. I never realized how much time I spent doing this until now—because now Pictology does it for me.
One of the best time-saving tools is automatic order-processing. Before, when a customer sent in an order, I had to hunt for the photo, folder by folder, on my computer. Now when a customer makes an order, I get an email that says, "So-and-so just ordered an 8x10 of img_3982.jpg from the 'Johnson Wedding.'" When I launch Pictology's software to process the order, the image is there for me to edit, and with the click of a button I can send it off to my lab for processing.
That's it. Once my lab processes the order, I can expect to receive a check within two weeks. Pictology even handles paying the lab using the money from the customer's purchase. They pay the lab and send me a statement detailing the orders that have been processed.
I'm lucky, because the lab I always use is plugged into Pictology to receive my orders. They have a bunch of labs to choose from, but if you don't want to use their labs you don't have to. I've spoken with several photographers who complain about the print quality with some of the Internet labs. Pictology lets you choose. They also have reasonably priced service plans that make sense when compared to some of the other, higher-priced services out there.
My studio and my work style have changed quite a bit over the past couple of years. The best change is that I've been able to reduce the amount of time behind a computer while spending more time behind a camera lens or in front of a prospective client.
I recommend you check out Pictology. It's been great for me. See if it will work for you, too.
For more information about Pictology, visit go.pictology.com.