Monday, July 11, 2011

MRS Monday Q&A: How do I negotiate with Photography shops?

Each Monday watch for a new Q&A.

Our first question today is from "A" who writes: "Photography: This is something I've been wanting to branch out and do with my shop's items, but I don't know how to get started, and have very minimal funds, so I couldn't pay a photography to always come in and shoot my items on models. I was wondering if you could give me some pointers on how to best negotiate with Photography shops, where I could get professional photos of our items, and not have to spend a fortune. Do you trade your item for free photos, or give discounts to the Photographers on your items?"

Great question "A" ! I think most business owners learn to appreciate great photography when they decide to launch a new product for the first time - especially- if they suck at it capturing it on photoshop. You might be great behind a sewing machine but really stink behind the camera. You know that old clichei- "A picture is worth a thousand words"?, well in our case a picture is worth a thousand dollars, or 10,000 dollars, depending on how well it can sell your product.

                                                 I can't believe my rosettes looked like THAT!

my first photos in 2009

Taking my own pictures worked from 2008-2009. It even got me to THe View and GOOD MORNING AMERICA, but it didn't sustain sales. Soon I became a little dissatisfied with my store- it just didn't look good. I started to look around at other shops: I began to feel a little anxious because my competitors had WAAAAAAY better pictures than I did, and that made me really mad and frustrated because I had done all I could with my Canon Rebel and Picasa 3 and to be honest I was scared to even try Photoshop.

I sure got that white glare down

I am a full time mom, trying to run a business and NO time to take a class and try to do it myself. I needed more to stay ahead and really prove with my pictures that I was better than my competitors- that I was the BEST! I really understood now that a photographer would be my next best friend. And that's exactly where my real adventure begins.
the infamous Giddy-up Bib Necklace 2009

In 2009 -10 I recieved emails from local photographers Cassie from PinkPaisleyPhoto and Tasha at Reflections asking to purchase hairpieces. I sold them at a discount, but after posting the pictures on Etsy and making better sales, I felt that a trade would be better for both of us. The pictures were brighter, the camera was better, dang! Why didn't I think of this sooner? But that's not the end of the story there. It gets better!

                                             photography credits:

                                              photography credits: Reflections by Tasha

Then  I discovered FB in 2011. I'll be the first to say I was really late with FB, but what the heck. I soon discovered so many wonderfully talented Photographers that I couldn't control myself and I asked if they'd like to trade photos for product. Straight across. No dollar for dollar or paperwork. I send products, you send me pictures. They keep the product and I use the pictures in my store, online, etc.
And they all said YES!

I'll admit it was a little crazy trying to run a business and send new designs to photographers week after week, but soon enough, little by little, the appearnce and appeal of my shop improved, my sales improved and I began to make friends with wonderful photographers. (See, they become your best friends! I told you)

Now lets break this down under my neon pink MRS microscope so that we understand each other:

1. Get on FB, or blogs, or Twitter, or WHATEVER , and find out WHO took that amazing shot. Find them. Follow them. Make comments on their walls, their blogs, and make yourself be know. Don't be a stranger.

2.. Do they have a lot of followers? If they do, SCORE! When they post your pics on their wall, you gain not only great pictures, but an entire new audience- THEIR audience!

3. ASk them if they'd like to do products for picture trades. It should NOT cost you do trades. If they cost, find someone else. Because that's not a trade is it?

4 Ask what their turnaround time is. You might have pictures in 3 days, or 3 months. Are you willing to wait?

5. Send them new designs. Something fresh.

6. Let the photographer work their magic. Don't tell your photographer what to do. Trust them.

7. Be patient while waiting for photos. Don't bug him/her. They won't like you.

8. When you recieve your pictures, post on your walls, or twitter, or what have you. Thank them. Over and Over!

9. Didn't like their work? No problem! Send the identical piece to the photographer who sells the best in your shop.

10. Keep a file of all your photographers addresses, and the dates of when you promised to send your products. I haven't always been so good at this, but eventually I did get everyone on my list. And what's really nice is now they email me for products for their upcoming photoshoots. And that's when the fruit of your labors really pays off - you've built trust and established a relationship with a great photographer where you BOTH win. I am now sending products on a weekly basis, so this will keep you reallllly busy.

Got it? Now go for it!

Other great subjects coming are:

Copyrights- is it worth it?
Is there a magic bullet for better sales?
Can  I do anything about  those pesky copycats?

Remember, opinions expressed by me, Lori ward aka Miss Ruby Sue, are just that. You may have something better that works for you, or have other questions.

You can always send those to me at

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