In part two in our four-part series on the business of schools photography, Rachel Proctor, our Schools Specialist, discusses a few points on the profitability potential of starting a schools photography arm to your business.
“Having recently spent four days at The Photography Show speaking with 100s of potential schools and pre-school photographers, one of the most frequently asked question was, “Am I right in thinking schools photography can be lucrative?” and my reply was an extremely positive, yes!
“Schools & pre-school photography is a lucrative business, but it doesn’t come easily. There’s lots of leg work to get through, even before you take your camera out of its bag.
“Of course, schools photography isn’t for the faint hearted, there are lots of decisions to make before you can start promoting yourself, but WE (Simply Schools & Pics4Schools) are here to lend a helping hand so those decisions can be made with knowledge rather than assumption.
“To start with, you’ll mostly likely need to make a list of which schools or nurseries you wish to promote yourself to and the contact name of the person you need to email, mailshot and ultimately meet with. You may wish start local, or if you know someone who works within a school, start there!
“A great way to start promoting yourself quickly is to set up one of our ‘tried and tested’ proof cards via our website. Our choice of proof cards contains best-selling packages and we demonstrate them with national average selling prices – ideal for newbie schools photographers. Once your proof card is set-up and personalised to you, take it with you to meetings with schools. It helps to explain how the process works and show just how easy it is for the school to administrate, as well as parents to order.
“Another major consideration is finding your USP – give the school a reason to want to change from their current supplier! They won’t book you if you’re offering exactly the same as their current photographer, so come up with a couple of ideas before your meeting. Could any of these work?
- I’m a local, independent photographer so you would be supporting local trade
- As I am the photographer, it will be ME that photographs the children and staff
- My style and ideas are more contemporary so sales will be higher
- Incentivise the school to promote the sale of images, perhaps supporting their charity or PTA with a percentage of the sales turnover (keeping it very transparent)
- Offer the school added value – if a sales target is reached you could offer coverage of an event at the school, such as a prom or sports day
- If you have any further requirements for photography, such as in-school marketing or for your website, I offer this service, too
- A closer relationship with the school is important, a personal touch counts!
“Then, once you have a booking (or six), you can expect the ‘lucrative’ stage to be just around the corner. Following is one example that has been reported back to us from the last 12 months.
“Helen, a Pics4Schools customer based in Dorset, reported:
I now offer the majority of my playgroups and nurseries the hybrid proof card option so parents have the choice of returning their order to nursery with cash or cheque, or accessing their child’s images securely online through Pics4Schools. My customers love having choices, so it’s ideal to offer multiple ways to purchase as well as having lots of products to choose from online. I often find that customers that choose Pics4Schools to order are placing higher value orders, such as desk frames, larger prints to frame themselves or digital files. My average proof card order for Primary and Junior schools is over £15, whereas my average online order value is an incredible £31.24!
Since I started using Pics4Schools, my average sale has increased significantly and my administration almost down to zero! It’s so simple to shoot, edit, upload and order the proof cards. The only job I have left to do is collect the manual proof card orders and bank the money. OVI take care of the rest.
I’m now shooting more jobs than ever before, but still have time to work on my personal projects and spend time with my family! A perfect work/life balance.
“The other element to think about here is, once associated with the school, you have access to a whole plethora of parents, families and their friends to market to and sell your additional lifestyle photography services too. Get that playground word-of-mouth marketing really working for you and who knows the potential. One photographer we know even set-up a photography club in the school for the kids that was so much of a success it wasn’t long before he was booking workshops for the parents too!
“Approach the schools photography business with a clear strategy, fresh and exciting images that parents couldn’t shoot themselves (after all, everyone’s a photographer, right!) and a simple solution to the image management like ours and you have the makings of a great business that could very neatly fit into the yearly cycle’s down times.”
t: 07792 370606
Next time (part 3 of 4): Schools peaks when social doesn’t – fill those turnover gaps.