Holiday cards tend to bring up responses that are as passionate as the digital file debate. Love them or hate them, you definitely need a plan for them in your business. While they can be time consuming to create and have a pretty low profit margin, especially when compared to your regular portrait offerings, they don’t have to make you want to run screaming from the building pulling your hair out.
What is the biggest benefit of offering holiday cards in your business? Marketing! Think of holiday cards as free direct mail pieces directly into the homes of your best client’s friends and family. This alone often makes the hassle of selling holiday cards worth it, but I have a few tips to make it as painless as possible.
1. Make sure your name is on the card! I simply place my website discretely on a bottom corner of my custom cards. If you are selling the digital files only and clients are making their own cards you are missing out on this important free marketing benefit! However, did you know that photographers can be an affiliate for Tiny Prints or Minted? These are great card companies that offer a very nice product. Simply send your clients to your “storefront” and they can purchase their cards directly from the manufacturer ….and the cards will have your website on them!
2. Develop a workflow. Cards can quickly become a monster time suck during your busiest season so it’s imperative that you have a system to handle it. I use card templates from Design Aglow mainly because they offer a free holiday card booklet that I customized with my prices that showcase all of the designs that I would like to offer my clients. I simply send that pdf to my client, or view it at the ordering appointment, and they choose the design they like. We choose the pictures and they tell me the signature wording. Pull up the template and it takes 5-10 minutes. One complimentary proof and it’s off to print.
3. Sure it’s marketing but make sure you are compensated! Just because these are great marketing pieces doesn’t mean that you should take a loss or work for free so price them right. Price them high enough to absorb the cost of reprinting if there is a mistake. Include one complimentary edit to the card, but don’t be shy about charging a “revision fee” for multiple revisions. That is a great motivator for your clients to make, and stick with, a decision.
If you are simply doing an affiliate program then charge your clients a “usage fee” of $25-75 to compensate you for your time uploading the images. That “usage fee” is if you didn’t already sell them the digital files. The affiliate programs allow the photographer to upload images for your clients to use in the cards so that you aren’t releasing the files directly to the client. If you have sold your client the digital files already, simply point them to your storefront so that your name is on the card and you will receive a slight commission.
What is your holiday card marketing plan? Don’t forget to include past clients, new clients, and possibly clients that are simply looking for holiday cards and not a full session. This is what I’m doing this year….
1. I create a special offer for my newsletter list gifting them with 25 complimentary cards if they book their fall session by the end of July. It gives them motivation to get on my calendar now as I really hate having to turn people away, especially when those people are past clients or newsletter subscribers.
2. I will ask about holiday cards at every ordering appointment starting August 1st. For those clients from the first part of the year I will reach out to them individually to see if I can help them with holiday cards. They receive complimentary corresponding address labels when ordering their cards before the end of September. Again, keeping my workflow in mind as I’d like to get as many of my past clients cards done before the onslaught of fall craziness.
3. I am offering mini-sessions* this year on two dates especially for those clients that are mainly interested in holiday cards. I do not want to give a full session time to someone that just wants cards, I lose money when that happens. I don’t necessarily want to turn those clients away though so I created mini-session packages that are profitable for me and give them what they want most; cards and a few prints. They pre-purchase the packages and the lowest package is still something that would be profitable for me if everyone only did that one.
*If you want to see the details of what I’m offering in my mini-sessions you can find them on the Nicole Begley Photography Facebook page. Marketing template design by www.go4prophotos.com.
I hope this gets you thinking and planning early for how you can handle holiday cards in your business and keep your sanity! If you have other suggestions that work for you I would love to hear them in the comments below!