For a portrait shooter, the main way to improve profits is an in-person ordering session after the shoot. The sooner the better.
CDs only work well for events where you are dealing with hundreds or thousands of images. Your only leverage with a client is to not hand them images. You don't want to be the cheap guy that gives away everything because that's the client base you will build if you start doing that.
The way that I handle portraits is to offer a session at 1/3 of what I want as a minimum take away from the client and offer incentives if they spend the other 2/3 of what I want. For example. If I want $450 as my average sales, I'll offer the session at $150 and then at the ordering session offer to give them all the images for orders over $300. The images can't do prints above an 11x14 so they still have to come back to me for wall prints.
I wish more people understood that. It makes it tough to start a business, but if you're having a wedding or other one time event, those photos are one of the main things you'll remember. And likely the main way you have of remembering who was there.
I really like this idea. It's an incentive to buy prints and other merch but at the same time they don't get ripped off, and I guess that was probably an initial fear that they'd feel like they were getting ripped off and that's not my intention. My intention is to make us both happy but I'm not happy if I get the short end while the client prints off tons of photos for next to nothing at walgreens or walmart.
Admittedly my frazzledness is due to lack of planning. I hadn't expected to get clients, when I did I had to figure out a price to give them. You see, I haven't advertised outside of facebook because I'm moving and there was no point for me to locally advertise when I'm moving to a completely different region. I have realized a class or two might not be the worst idea and I've got a lot left to learn.
Thank you for the insight! It seems like a good way to make a profit and make the client feel like they're getting a bonus for ordering prints. I like it.
Doing shoot+burn shoots burn not only the client (who don't get the benefit of your expertise) but also the Photographer because they deny the client the chance to see the value in the work. Unless you know better you have to assume the client is coming at this from ignorance and that you'll have to do some education. They come to your for your expertise and to shoot images and then burn them on to a disc and send them on their way is malpractice as far as I'm concerned because you just put more value on the disc instead of your artistry and craftsmanship.
The last project I did, I had the client purchase a USB Drive/External Drive and I loaded them there. I feel that it is actually a more "high quality" way of delivery and doesn't limit size if you wish to include RAW and JPG, or alternately in my life, the RAW footage.
Raise your day rate and include the cost of the CD plus a small markup in your fee. If your clients aren’t interested in buying prints (and that’s a trend I’ve been noticing quite a bit lately, what with Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and everybody’s iPhones, Blackberrys, Android devices, tablets and laptops) then you can either charge per finished image delivered and/or charge a flat rate that covers your costs and provides you some profit.
If you haven’t already, I’d consider taking a small business admin course, preferably one specific to photography.
I actually took one through a local elementary school board. They offered it as a continuing ed class and it wasn’t all that expensive. You learn about taxation issues, business structures (sole proprietership vs. incorporation vs. limited liability partnership), how to manage finances, how to estimate start-up costs, and lots more. The course I took was general-purpose for small businesses of all sorts; the only thing they couldn’t really go into was job estimation, which is a bit more specific to each business, but I was able to pick that up on the go.
I haven't personally, but the times I've dealt with that the CD is essentially included with the service. As in the photographer was charging for the time or the images and the CD was included in the price.
If you're taking regular photos and selling them on CD a la carte, that's going to be really difficult to make work. I'm not sure in a case like that it's going to make any sense unless you're mass producing them as a set or making money on royalties.