Brought to you by the photographers at SmugMug

Make More Money with Digital Downloads

"...many of our clients would rather put their pictures on Facebook than deal with an album. It’s important to remember that we are hired by these couples to do a service for them; if they don’t want prints, we should figure out what they do want and charge them accordingly for that." Lee Morris, The Changing Business of Wedding Photography

If you’re a portrait or event photographer, you’ve undoubtedly had clients ask you the following:

• Are digital files included with my booking?
• Can I have a digital copy?
• Will I get a CD with all the photos on it?
• Can I post these photos on Facebook?

The real fact is that we're living in a digital age. More and more people are turning to their portable electronics and social sites to share their precious memories, and few folks still tuck physical prints around in their wallets. So what does this mean for the photography business, which has always had deep roots in printing?

At SmugMug, we still believe in the importance of a physical product, but we think it's equally important to adapt your business to the digital needs of todays' customers.

You've already got your portfolio and proofing solution sorted out on your SmugMug site, and know what a lifesaver our four print labs are in fulfilling your print and merchandise orders. Don't leave money on the table by keeping digital downloads a secret!

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Photos + Video Downloads = Instant Gratification

Portfolio and Business account SmugMuggers can price and sell single digital images and video files to clients, and they're retrievable immediately after checkout. In other words, they're perfect for customers who want a little something to share with friends and family right away, especially if they'll be waiting for you to proof your prints.

Don't think you can emotionally "let go" of releasing your digital babies? Not to worry: You can lock it down and offer only smaller display sizes or choose to offer files that only include your printmark. Additionally, you can set one price for personal use and charge more for commercial licensing. Or sell the whole gallery at a single package price.

That's a total of 26 different options for single downloads, and 16 variations of gallery downloads!

Single Image Products:

Individual Video Products:

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Steps to Start Selling

1. Protect against theft.

When you decide to start selling downloads, it's of utmost importance to be sure you've got image protection set up the right way so people pay for the pleasure of sharing your images. Take a look at the resources we've written that help you set up watermarking, right-click protection, and more.

2. Strategize your pricing.

We've got a great article that helps you decide the eternal question "How much should I charge?" but this is a very personal decision and there is no right answer. We can, however, offer some practical tips:

•Don't dismiss Printmarks! While text or logos do cover up part of your image, there's a greater benefit: they're advertising for you. Create a Printmark that's tasteful and unobtrusive, and your clients will only be too happy to share your name with the world.

•Set your larger downloads at a higher price point than your prints. Assuming you're selling downloads so that customers can get prints made locally instead of through SmugMug's print labs, you'll have to make up for that loss. Also remember that a digital file doesn't self-destruct once it's been "printed," so make sure you build multiple uses of those files into your prices.

Consider paring down your offerings. While it's true we make 42 different download options available for you to sell, it doesn't mean you should actually do it. Decision paralysis is a very real beast throttling sales every day, and we want you and your clients to both be happy.

•Include digital files in your sitting fee/packing price, then give your client a print credit coupon after the shoot to purchase digital downloads. This method streamlines the amount of thinking they need to do, and its keeps everything close to your website at SmugMug. 

(Alternatively, why not use our gallery backups feature to deliver all full-res photos in the gallery to the client via zip file?)

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3. Set your prices.

Like traditional prints, desk frames and coffee mugs, you price your photo, video and gallery downloads in your Pricelists manager to make them available to your clients. The only difference is that all digital downloads are delivered instantly via email from SmugMug, and they aren't tied to a specific print lab like physical products.

We hope that we've inspired you to try an all-new way to make more money on your SmugMug pro account… as well as give you new ways to make your clients happier. If you're brand-new to digital downloads or just want to read more about how you can make money at SmugMug, read our complete help pages for all the details.

As always, don't hesitate to reach out to our Support Heroes if you're confused, need help or just have a question about what you need to do next. Happy sales to you!