1 model call. 2 clients. a nice cash injection in my business.
I know that I share a lot of photography business tips here on the blog, but today I want to switch gears.
I am going to break down EXACTLY how I was able to make more money with 2 photo sessions than I ever had in the previous 5 years of my business.
But, before we get to the juicy details, I want to point out that this all started at the beginning of a major brand change that I made in my business. So, it’s not like it took me years and years to figure out this perfect sales tactic. It was a simple method that just WORKS, even if you have no experience – like I did.
Here’s how it all unfolded.
I went from being an all-inclusive digital photographer to a full-scale print photographer selling to my clients in person.
It was a complete 180 change for my business and I was honestly scared to death that it would fall flat on it’s face. I was so scared of losing my bookings and watching my business crash and burn. But, I decided to go full steam ahead and here we are now.
For one, I HATE selling.
I just don’t have that type of personality to lead people to buy things they might not want. I later discovered that I didn’t HAVE TO hard sell anything – that my photos sold themselves and that I was just merely helping my clients make the best purchase decision.
Helping them pick out photos felt better and made the “sales” much easier and lighter for me.
Secondly, I was scared of losing all of my clients.
I had built my photography business up for nearly 5 years with the all-inclusive model and I was scared that none of my clients would follow me with the re-brand.
I knew that this was probably unavoidable, so I took my chances and guess what happened? My intuition was right.
I did lose most of my clients.
I don’t share this to scare you – especially if you’re considering a brand or pricing change. I share this to be candid with you, because it does take work to get your business off the ground.
Even though I lost many of my old, “dedicated” clients, I gained a lot of amazing new clients. Clients that were willing to pay top dollar for my services and products. Clients that didn’t try to barter my prices down. Clients that swooned over the entire photography experience.
So this story starts with how I made this income from 2 completely new clients.
I put out a model call so I could add more photos to my portfolio.
Now, I didn’t just go blasting this all over social media. In fact, I didn’t share this on social media AT ALL.
Instead, I wrote a very specific newsletter and sent it to my email list.
At the time, I had complied a list of over 300 people in my area. I knew that that the majority of the people on this list either had sitting babies and/or young kids (the requirements that I was searching for) . I knew this because I had collected these 300 email addresses roughly 9 months prior to this model call at a trade show.
I attended a baby trade show in my area the summer before and hosted a giveaway at my booth.
In order to enter the giveaway for a free maternity session, they needed to enter their email address. At the time, it was a costly way of collecting emails (as I spent nearly $2,000 on that expo including the booth fees, props, and setup), but I had an amazing list at the end.
This specific email list has also gone on to help me book THOUSANDS more dollars and dozens of new clients and referrals. So, it was worth the investment in the end.
I sent out an email to this list JUST ONE TIME. I explained what I was doing, what I was looking for, and how they could participate. With their participation, they would receive a free session plus a $150 print credit (a total value of $300).
I made sure that I shared all of the important details upfront and had them fill out a questionnaire.
I made sure to provide clear instructions for 2 reasons:
- I wanted to choose clients who could follow direction. It might seem like an easy thing to overlook when putting out a model call, but you wouldn’t believe how many people DIDN’T follow my specific instructions. I even made it clear that they would only be considered if they followed the directions – so it was an easy way to sift through the responses.
- I wanted to choose clients who were eager to work with me. It’s no secret that people are more invested in something when they VALUE it and have skin in the game, and this helped weed out the clients who didn’t make the cut.
By the end of the next day, I had chosen 2 NEW clients to participate in my model call.
I was still a little nervous because I had just finished mapping out this exact strategy and it hadn’t been tested in my business yet, but I went full steam ahead anyways.
I made sure that I connected with them before the session.
One of my requirements for participating in the model call was paying a $100 retainer. I explained that the retainer was refundable AS LONG AS they showed up for the session. I told them that this was to ensure their participation and how it would only be fair to others who didn’t get to participate.
There was no resistance there.
I talked to them on the phone before the sessions to discuss everything in detail, including my print pricing and how they’d have the option to buy more prints afterwards if they wanted to – but it wasn’t a requirement.
This prior connection made all the difference.
We were able to connect and make sure that we all were on the same page. I believe it also was a big factor in the final sale since we discussed it beforehand and they were prepared to invest more.
I put on my best hat and did the work.
Since these were new clients, I did everything in my power to make sure that they felt comfortable and confident during their session.
I made it a priority to try new locations, poses, and prompts to give them a lot of variety in their photos. Plus, it was extra important for variety in my portfolio.
Roughly a week after the session, I visited them at their homes for the photo “reveal” and selection. I chose to meet them there for a few reasons.
1. They didn’t have to travel or make babysitting arrangements during the hectic work week.
2. I would be able to help them figure out the best pieces to hang on their wall.
I brought my giant portfolio bag full of my print samples to show them and my ipad to display and sort their photos. I have the proofshare app installed in my ipad along with their shoot and sell app to help them select their photos.
remember how I said I hate selling?
Bringing along samples and software that helped showcase my work did all the selling for me. No icky feelings were involved.
The proof share app is a great way to display the photos and organize the ones they want. It makes it easy for me to keep my client photos organized for when I go to make albums after the sales meeting. The shoot and sell app is great for showing clients what wall art will look like in their home.
This was a huge hit
With the shoot and share app, I was able to take photos of my client’s walls and design a custom layout for their prints and canvases. This easily doubled my sales as they were able to see what the final result would look like in their home. Instead of guessing, they knew exactly how it would look, which made their decision so easy.
My first sale was for $1,350.
I made over $1k with 1 client with my new business model. I couldn’t believe it. Let alone I couldn’t believe this was from a model call!
My second sale was even more at $1,475. That was more money than I had made in the previous quarter of the year prior.
Without selling prints and showing my clients how their prints would look in their home, I doubt my sales would have been as high as they were.
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t make great sales with an all-inclusive digital model.
You absolutely can, but you have to be very strategic about your pricing structure for the session.
In fact, I made over $1,000 from 3 mini model sessions last summer – during the great pandemic.
During the height of the pandemic, I put out another model call during the summer. Same method as before, except different requirements. This time, I was looking for families with older kids at a new location that I wanted to promote sessions at and I needed examples for my website.
I needed a quick session boost since I hadn’t made any money in 2 months. But, since we still had pretty tight restrictions on business, I decided to show my clients their photos on an online gallery with digital photo options instead.
While the sales didn’t make over $1,000 per session like they would have with products and in-person sales, I was able to make easy money with clients who value me – ON DEMAND (and without leaving my home for a sales meeting).
That’s the beauty about model calls.
You can create income on demand and have people lining up out the door wanting to work with you.
You can determine the time, the place, and who you work with (which is the complete opposite of a normal photo session).
But, you do need to focus on one main thing.
You need to have a strategic plan in motion to generate leads and clients and stick to the process so that you can earn money with these sessions.
Here’s what you need to consider when planning a profitable model call:
- How you will weed out the freebie seekers among the people who value photography
- How you will put the word out to attract the clients that value you
- How you’ll ultimately select your clients
- How to setup a special model price system that pays
- How to make additional money from your model sessions
- How to use these sessions to attract even more clients down the road
- How to promote these without cheapening your brand
There is much to work out when planning the perfect model call, which is why I have created a 5-part system for this.
Complete with email pitches, ad copy, questionnaire files, and the magic model call pricing system that generates income and up-sells from free sessions.
When I discovered just how simple this process was, I couldn’t just keep it to myself.
I knew that if I could make these kind of sales in my location (southern Ohio where the cost of living is cheap and the average salary isn’t that impressive), then ANYBODY could do this.
I’m not some marketing and business guru. I don’t have a ton of sales experience. In fact, the only kind of marketing that I was taught in photography school was how to make cheesy looking flyers and business cards.
The thing that makes this work is grit and not giving up on your passion.
(well, and a little bit of strategy too)
Over the past 8 years, I have learned from experience what works in this industry and what doesn’t – and this model call system WORKS let me tell ya!
This isn’t some dime-a-dozen smoke and mirrors sales pitch (because by now, you should know how I feel about that).
This is the real deal from a real Mom in real need of making money. And now I am sharing it with you. You’re welcome.
What I teach is the EXACT system that I follow to book new sessions out of thin air and that landed these 2 mega sales in my business – with zero previous selling experience.
Why plan a model call?
- Model calls keep you, as the business owner, in control of the session. You determine the time, place, AND the clients you work with.
- Model Calls help you create buzz & excitement in your business by generating new leads – even during a pandemic.
- Model calls give you the opportunity to work with new clients who are eager to work with you AND pay you for your services.
I’ve laid out this system so simple that all you have to do is plug and play into your business.
First, you’re going to learn what exactly a model call is (and what it is NOT) and why you can leverage them to quickly book sessions, meet new clients, and build your business. Even if you’ve struggled booking in the past!
You’ll also learn how to price & scale your model calls to sell your photos without hesitation. You’ll learn how to package them JUST RIGHT that makes these sessions both irresistible to your audience and profitable for you.
I will show you how to weed out clients who simply want a freebie and zone in on clients who are eager and ready to pay full price for your services. Client finder approach & swipe files included.
And you’ll also learn the EXACT booking formula that I use on autopilot to generate new booked sessions out of thin air.
You don’t need a ton of extra time to make this happen…
The name of the game with this system is simplicity & speed – not over-thinking and overwhelm. That’s why I’ve laid it all out in quick workshop with an easy-to-implement assignment each day, for 5 days.
Even if you only have an hour to spare during the late hours after the kids go to bed…
Or a few minutes here and there during the day while you juggle the rest of your business & life tasks…
You can plan your Money Makin’ Model Call and make sales…fast (just like I did).
This strategy is specific.
This isn’t random.
This isn’t about luck.
This isn’t about throwing out info about free sessions and hoping to make sales.
It’s better than that.
It’s the tried and true method that I use in my business all the time to create income out of thin air. And it’s all yours for the taking.
I know by now what you’re thinking about. If you’re here reading these words right now, then I know you have that desire to make this your very own business reality. I know you desperately want to make this work so you can earn what you’re worth while doing something you love doing!
I am here to tell you that you totally can. If you’re ready to make some money in a pinch, then grab a seat in Money Makin’ Model Calls and let’s get started. Because I know that if I can do this, then so can you!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
- How I made $2,800 with 1 model call
- 4 ways to sell our your mini sessions
- How to be a more confident photographer
- 5 reasons why you need a marketing plan