A boutique photography business model is also known as IPS — In Person Sales model. It means this model is about a complete client experience.
It includes the initiation call, personal meet-up, photo session, presentation, and delivery of the final fine-art image. It may include the installation of artwork in the client’s house.
But how do boutique photographers make money?
It is exactly what we shall uncover in this article. Today, boutique photographers aren’t limited to photography studios and loyal clients. There are several other ways they have opted for extra income.
We will discuss the functional approach of the Boutique Photography Business Model while uncovering freelancing, collaborations, digital product sales, stock photography, and more.
Let us start with the following;
“Boutique” is a striking term that usually refers to sophisticated, small fashion and accessory businesses. So how does it make sense in photography? Well, it is simple. It symbolizes a tailored, personalized, and custom in-depth experience for both customer and the photographer.
Boutique photography is about building a relationship with customers and getting to know them well before the actual photography session. It is not just clicking photos and handing them digital files in exchange for money.
Boutique photography is actually “clicking” with the clients. It involves you (the photographer) bonding with clients, knowing their expectations, likes and dislikes, and more.
It is about delivering a memorable experience during the shoot and creating heirloom products after the shoot.
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Boutique photography is quality over quantity, client experience over a bland photo session. It is not just limited to photo sessions; it goes far beyond. It goes as far as you scheming, designing, and placing the photograph settings to match their walls.
It is about delivering the complete photography experience. Wondering how it is done? Let us jump into the next section to find out.
As mentioned earlier, it is not simply scheduling a photo session and shooting photographs. The boutique model takes a lot of time to build compared to the shoot and burn or an all-inclusive (pricing for profit) model.
A boutique business model involves five steps that require patience, communication dexterities, an eye for photo settings, visualization of your after-work, and presentation skills. Let us uncover the steps one at a time.
It is the first step where you get in touch with the client for the first time. Make sure you leave a remarkable impression. You know the first impression is the last. Also, it is important to make it clear whether you want to work with them (or not). It is usually over the phone.
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You must wrap up everything like a professional within 20-30 minutes. Use virtual phone numbers for cheap call rates. Be precise, and don’t forget to schedule an in-person meeting. This meeting can be at least a week before the actual photo session.
An In-person meeting helps you understand the client. You get to discuss your ideas and their expectations. Visit their place and map out the illustration of photographs that go along with the theme of their walls.
Listen to their ideas and consult them on what could work better with their settings. It is the stage where you gain their trust. Answer their queries in the simplest way possible and make them see what you have visualized.
You can arrange a few in-person meetings without evading their (personal) time and space to build a strong bond. It helps you deliver a greater customer experience with a well-planned strategy.
It is the step where you shoot to sell. Take your time with the photo session. Do not haste to wrap up; let them relish the shoot experience. Make this particular day special for them, so they talk about it in the future.
It is how you impress your clients and encourage them for word-of-mouth marketing without asking them. Do you get me? You even let them take some photos for the sake of experience.
To reiterate, Boutique photography is about customer experience over a bland photo session.
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At this stage, you set up an in-person meet-up at your boutique photography studio or anywhere your client feels comfortable. Take at most 30-60 minutes to present your work in digital formats.
Ask your client to select the photos they like. You can also suggest your ideas with your selections and demonstrate where you would like them to go on the walls. Conclude the meeting without overwhelming them.
Give your client the date of the delivery of the final product and see off.
You should make sure that you keep your word and deliver the final piece on the promised date. Why? Because they will be expecting. Never fail to live up to your client’s expectations.
You deliver the final artwork and set them on their walls. You have created a wholesome experience already at this point. Your client will be more than happy to refer you to their friends and relatives.
You also get rewarded for your time and effort handsomely. By the end of a project, you will have made a good relationship, earned monetary value, enjoyed your work, and, more importantly, delivered an exceptional customer experience.
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Traditional photography is standard color photography that captures well-choreographed photographs of the prospects. The main aim here is to get the perfect shot of every individual. The photographer is responsible for instructing people to hold certain poses in the picture.
Boutique photography has more similarities with traditional photography than differences. It also captures individuals in the frame in the perfect pose; however, it doesn’t have to be standard color photography.
Remember, we are talking about the photography models, not the mechanical or digital aspects.
Traditional photography usually is Still Life Photography which captures events and is great for weddings and birthdays. Similarly, boutique photography is about capturing special moments and occasions, marriages, birthdays, family photos, maternity photos, and so on.
The main focus of both models is to capture special moments in special events and create a masterpiece of artwork in a printed format to hang on the walls. Traditional photography doesn’t include digital files; boutique photography also tries to eliminate digital files.
Enough of the differences and similarities. Let us move on to the next section and discuss
Usually, boutique professional photographers do not compete for prices since their clients prefer quality over quantity. Their clients value moments captured art pieces, and money is the least discussed thing.
Setting competitive prices and marketing is usually a thing of a shoot-and-burn photographer. This model contrasts with the boutique model and focuses on quantity over quality.
Despite saying that prices come into play at some stage of the customer journey. It is better to research the market and set your prices. Make your rates reasonable and affordable. The main aspect is you should consider your profit margins.
You have a living to make and a family to support, so consider them all in your project prices. As mentioned earlier, your customers will be happy to pay extra if you deliver what your claim to.
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Make sure you impress your clients throughout the journey and create a memorable experience (for them). People who understand the value of Boutique Photography will not hesitate to pay you a five-figure for a well-done job.
This is what makes the Boutique photography model stand out from the rest.
Boutique photography is about delivering the final piece and not digital files. It is more than social media and online presence; it is about creating an heirloom, a memory, an antique that lives for generations.
The boutique model emphasizes physical final product sales over anything. A final 30×40 print does justice to your client and your passion for photography more than an Instagram post of your hard work.
It is how you should approach your client in the first place. And fortunately enough, most boutique photography enthusiasts understand the value of printed portraits. They, too, want the same thing from you.
Marketing your final products is also important to acquire new clients and land more projects. You should make use of social media and online platforms for that. Posting pictures of your final product and video reels of the creation process can boost your online presence.
Online presence in today’s market is essential. It helps you reach potential customers, market your products and services, and generate revenues through online sales.
As we mentioned earlier, digital products aren’t the focus of a boutique photography model. But with time, innovation, and the evolution of photography, boutique photographers can earn extra by selling digital products.
However, your main goal should be selling physical, final products. You can cut deals with your clients to take digital and printed versions of your work and charge them a session fee accordingly.
It benefits you even more. They get what they want, and you earn extra money. Some clients want to decorate their home walls as well as their social media walls. As a boutique photographer, you can take this opportunity and create separate copies to meet their demands.
You will have free marketing of your product through your customer’s social media. There is a massive possibility that some viewers want the same. They reach you online and might also present a new project to work on.
However, you should know that you cannot sell your client’s portraits without their consent. It is personal and shows your lack of professionalism.
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You have the skills of a professional photographer, so why stick to a single niche? You could easily pursue side hustles if needed. If you are content with your boutique photography business, stick to it. Else, you could also get into stock photography as a side hustle.
Capturing the images on demand on stock image sites and licensing them for sale can be a good source of income. And the better part is you can do it in your leisure time. It isn’t work; it is just using your hobby to earn money.
First, you must research on-demand images at present on stock image sites or best-selling stock images. You get the idea. Once you have an idea of image requirements, you can click them whenever you get a chance.
For instance, some of the top-selling stock images at the time of writing are Vintage Editing for Lifestyle Photos, Negative Space, Cultural Diversity, Stories of Authentic Living, and Retro Images.
You could capture high-resolution images to fit these categories, submit to stock image sites, and license them for sale. And do not limit your submissions to a few sites; submit on as many sites as possible.
But there are pros and cons to it; what doesn’t? Your work can be used for sinful causes, in which you have a limited say. The stock site favors its clients over photographers leaving you with disadvantages in disputes over images and licenses. If you ignore these facts, you can make easy money.
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Teaching students is much easier and less competitive than fighting for clients. Plus, it offers you a good income. Many individuals want to learn photography from a professional, which you can take advantage of. You can easily make a good living out of it by mentoring one-on-one or in a group.
You get an opportunity to help individuals achieve their dream and leave your print over them. It is a feeling of satisfaction when you realize your teaching lives off to another generation.
You could also organize or become a part of photography workshops. You can sell your photographs through workshops, meet other enthusiasts, share ideas, and build relationships. You get handsome sums for displaying your galleries once you establish yourself as a people’s favorite.
You could also sell your galleries to workshops to make huge amounts at once. You should be clever enough to figure out what sells and what doesn’t. For instance, local photo galleries want to buy photos showing their past, landmarks, culture, and heritage.
Select at most ten best photos and reach out to galleries for their upcoming workshops. If you have what it takes, they offer you a price you can bargain or accept. The pricing depends on several situations.
Some may rent you their space for display, some may buy the whole project, and some can print and display for a larger commission. No matter what, you earn money. That is your final goal.
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Freelance photography means you work for yourself and on whatever project you like. You take care of all business; no assisting teams are involved here. It is an opportunity to live your dream whilst earning money on the side.
It allows you to express your own style of work and creativity side-by-side. As a freelance photographer, you can create photo galleries on your website and promote them via your social channels.
It helps you create your presence and reach potential customers. You can also showcase your work to land freelancing jobs. Every entrepreneur or business needs photos at some point, whether product photos or professional headshots.
Freelancers can sell their fine art images on stock image sites and in photography stores. Entering a photography contest can also make you some money if you win. You could also become a freelance photojournalist to make money.
You can also collaborate with other photographers and work on projects. You can help experienced photographers with their projects and learn from them while working. It offers you money and learning opportunities at the same time.
As a freelance photographer, you can photograph for small businesses, write a photography blog, shoot portraits, edit and retouch, sell photos to magazines, and whatnot. Just excel at your work, and opportunities will come crawling to you.
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Boutique Photography Business Model is about a start-to-end customer experience rather than one plain photo session. It delivers clients with heirlooms to pass down for generations. You help them tell their stories through photographs and decorate their homes as aesthetically as possible.
Boutique photographers can also explore several side hustles to make extra bucks. Freelancing & collaboration, selling digital products, leaning towards stock photography and licensing images, and teaching and mentoring are viable options for Boutique photographers.
Traditional Photography and photographers can have difficulty sustaining and competing in this market. As a photographer, you should evolve with time without losing your essence to stand out and make a living out of it.
As a boutique photographer, you should first figure out what you love doing the most, like shooting events, parties, maternity photos, wedding photos, family portraits, or something else. Once you figure that out, you can use social media tools and adverts to reach out to your target audiences. Usually, photography cannot target teens and children; you should go for adults.
Family photos, weddings, maternity, and everything revolves around the adults. In-depth research is how you determine your targets as a boutique photographer.
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A boutique photography business is about creating a memorable experience for your clients. It isn’t just a simple photo session with digital files as an end product. It involves bonding, creating artwork together, and hanging them on their walls.
Before, it was all down to word-of-mouth advertisement. Now, you can use social media and online platforms to showcase your services and products. Creating an online presence is important at present; it is where everyone goes for everything.
Growing huge on the internet can help you create a memorable brand identity for your boutique photography business.
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You research trending searches on stock image sites and capture pictures to fit the descriptions. Upload your images on as many sites as possible and license them with the site. If entrepreneurs and businesses like your image and like to use it in their content, they buy it. The hosting site takes some percentage of the money and gives you your share.