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Physical prints or dig files - what do you sell?

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Old 03-10-2010, 03:29 PM
djnine21 djnine21 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2010
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Question Physical prints or dig files - what do you sell?

Hi Everyone,

I've been lurking here for a few weeks, reading as much as I can. I'm hoping to start up my own web-based restoration/retouching business, focusing mostly on restoring old photos and turning family snapshots into "wall-worthy" prints.

My question to the seasoned vets out there is this: is there any value to using a photographer's business model and selling the physical prints (canvas prints or regular enlargements) of the final product? Or should I stick to selling the service of restoration/enhancement and just deliver the electronic files over the net? My original thought is to offer both, but I'm thinking 99% of people will choose to get the file and then take it to their local Wal-Mart for prints (I know I would!).

I'd like the prints to be a value-added, convenience type service... ie: if they're paying to restore the photo, why not get the print to display or gift nicely? Feels more like offering a complete service. I'm definitely not looking to rip people off with ridiculous mark-ups on physical products, but an extra revenue stream would be welcomed, even if it's just a few extra bucks per job. The flip side of that of course, is making sure that the extra time it takes to order, pack, and ship the physical prints isn't turned into lost time by not charging enough.

Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:07 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Grand Junction CO USA
Posts: 676
Re: Physical prints or dig files - what do you sel

My that is a very large bag you have and its just plum full of worms!

A complete full service business would not only do the work, but make the prints, frame the prints, deliver the prints to the clients home and bring along a hammer and nails to hang the finished work on the clients wall.

Of course you would have to charge enough to cover all of your time and costs to do all of this. The rub is when one of the clients friends asks how much did it cost, your client usually mentions the total cost but neglects to mention the amount of service that was included in the project. The friend is usually shocked.

That is the problem with most photo studios pricing. They do not charge enough for the session or computer time, then attempt to make that up by tacking the charge onto the cost of the prints. Not a good business model, but its been that way for decades.

Remember to set your prices at a level that will really pay the cost of your doing business. Include enough to pay for all your equipment, software, utilities, advertising, rent or lease (even if you are home based your business should pay rent to you the home owner) and on and on. Thats a completely new thread there!

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-11-2010, 12:51 PM
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Janko Janko is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 72
Re: Physical prints or dig files - what do you sel

I think you should definitely offer prints. It only makes sense to capitalize and expand your earning potential. You could always give your clients the choice to use your printing services. But I bet you the added convenience of you already having the files and saving them the trouble of trying to find a decent place to get it printed will be worth it for them to do it.

Also you should position yourself in a different category than your local Walmart, pharmacy or ritz camera shop.. if you offer archival prints on different types of stocks and make sure your customers are all aware of the difference between using archival materials and inks vs. prints that will fade in a few years. As far as pricing I would research a few boutique printing shops and see where they are priced and what they offer. you could also take it a step further and partner up with a frame shop to refer your clients to.
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