The photography industry is as crowded as ever, and it shows no sign that the influx of new photographers to the market is going to slow down. The pet photography industry especially is in a state of exponential growth. When I started my business over 5 years ago there were just a few other photographers offering pet photography services in my area.   Now I see a new photographer every few months offering pet photography in my city.

It’s now more important then ever to stand out in a crowded market and build value in the eyes of your prospective clients. Obviously offering beautiful and technically correct imagery is one way, but that is not enough.

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What happens after a potential client contacts you? I always try to call my inquiries back….and yes, I HATE the phone. It is amazing the difference that I see in my bookings when I stop being lazy and pick up that phone….even if I just end up leaving a message.  You can read an old article here on converting client inquiries to bookings.

After I talk to or leave a message for the client I send them an email reinforcing what we talked about on the phone. People have short attention spans though so if you send them a giant wall of text they are going to gloss over it at best. We are visual professionals…let’s send them something visually stunning.

Sending your prospect a beautifully designed PDF builds value in your business, highlights your products, and validates your pricing. The client becomes more connected to you and your business. It is an easy way to quell objections before the client writes off the experience because “my dog will never sit still for photographs.” There are so many benefits that I believe that it is no longer an option to create this for your business…it is a necessity.

I know that I was overwhelmed when I first tried to create an inquiry PDF. What do I include? How do I design it? How do I email it to people? OMG it’s 150MB! How on earth do I shrink that down? Ugh. That compression looks terrible. Now what? Oh no, I’ve pulled out all my hair.

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I believe I spent a good 3 weeks one winter putting together my first inquiry PDF and it was exhausting. The good news is that I’m here to walk you through the process and give you some tips and tricks that can save your scalp!

Step 1:

Decide what to include.

In my guide I include:

  • Cover
  • Welcome page with an introduction to me and what makes an experience with my business unique
  • Testimonials
  • Details of the experience
  • Highlight your signature product
  • Address common objections or concerns. Such as leash removal is includedin final images so it’s ok that you dog must remain on a leash. It’s also ok that your dog is not an obedience champion!
  • In the press or any features
  • Session information
  • Collections or product prices. Include photographs of your products!
  • The next steps to book a session. It would be ideal to include a hyperlink to your booking page here, but I have not yet found an easy way to do that without purchasing Adobe Acrobat. If you know of a way please let me know!
  • Make sure to include lots of gorgeous imagery throughout your PDF!

You do not have to include all of this in your first guide. Start small. Add pages later. It’s all digital so it’s EASY PEASY to update it!

A word of caution, do NOT include a table of contents. Why? Then your client will flip directly to the pricing pages. This defeats the goal of helping to build value in your brand before they get to the prices.

 

Step 2:

Write the copy for each section. Have you heard of the Hemingway Editor app? It’s just a few dollars and it is a great tool for those that are grammatically challenged, like myself. Even if you are a grammar superstar, when you look at the same page for a while you miss some pretty obvious mistakes!

 

Step 3:

Unless you have a background in graphic design, find a template. There are lots of great options out there from places like Magazine Mama, Design Aglow, BP4U, and Etsy for starters. Customize as needed.

I create my pages in Photoshop, but if you have InDesign I imagine it’s easier since that is what it was designed for! Don’t forget to keep your master pages in the PS or IND file.

Whatever you do…do NOT flatten and save as a jpg as if you ever want to make a change you will have to recreate it!

Simply make a jpg copy of the original.

Step 4:

Create a PDF.

I use Preview on my mac to create PDFs with the jpg copies. Open the cover in Preview and click on the thumbnail view.

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Drag and drop the all of the other pages, which you can do as a group, into the column on the left.

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Click print on the menu bar so that the print window pops up.

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Manage the paper size so that it does not save your PDF with a white ring around the page. You may have to create a custom paper size.

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Click PDF in the lower left corner.

Choose save as PDF.

Heads up…it will be a GIANT file. Mine is around 150 MB. This is the part of the process in which I pulled out the most hair when I first did this….until I found www.smallpdf.com.   Oh my word.

They have some secret formula for compressing PDF files and keeping the images looking great. The other suggestions that I found online made my pictures all compressed and pixilated. My 150 MB file was compressed to 3 MB and it looks fabulous with smallpdf.com. Magic….and free!

You can upload your PDF file onto a page on your WordPress website or attach it to emails. I prefer to keep it in a Dropbox folder so that I can access it anywhere and attach it to emails as needed.

Good luck! I would love to see what you created! Feel free to share with us at the Hair of the Dog Facebook community!  Don’t forget that if a photography business is no displayed on your personal profile in a prominent manner you will not be approved.  This is due to the large number of trolls out there….but if you don’t have a business yet you are still welcome to join.  Please just contact me and introduce yourself so that I know that I should approve you and you aren’t going to try to sell everyone hair extensions.