Cherry Picked!

Hand-selected articles, guides, and more from the makers of Check Cherry, designed to help your business grow and flourish.

January 3, 2021 Check Cherry

10 mistakes photographers make when redesigning their website.

At Check Cherry, we see a lot of fantastic photographer websites. We also see our fair share of websites that are in desperate need of a redesign. Below is a list of the most common mistakes people make when building a photography business website. There's good news if you are making one or more of these mistakes. The fix is easy, and it will increase your website's effectiveness and sales.

 1. They make the home page about themselves.

Your home page is the most important page of your website. Avoid making your home page feel like an "About Me" page. The best home pages introduce the services you provide because it helps people quickly understand if they should keep scrolling or hit the back button. Your website should serve people looking to hire you.

2. They let a website template control the direction.

Starting with a template is helpful—however, don't let it limit your website's flow. There are so many great website builders out there; be sure to find something that works for you, even if it costs a little extra.

3. They’re not transparent enough.

A website's purpose is to help you sell more. The best way to facilitate this process is to make your website the most helpful resource for people who want to book you. When you give people everything they need to make a good decision, you attract more of your ideal clients and spend less time fielding questions from people who aren't a good fit. 

💡Remember, the goal is not to be a fit for everyone. Instead, you want to attract people who understand your value, appreciate your service, and will spread the word by telling friends.

4. They don't list pricing and packages.

If all goes well, people looking at your website will think: "I like what I see. How much and what's included?" That's a great thing because it's the next step in the buying process. It can also happen without you having to lift a finger. Publicly showing people your packages and pricing keeps the buying process moving for 100% of the people who visit your website, not just the small percentage who reach out and ask for more information. 

 5. They use too much text.

Very few people will read your website from top to bottom. Avoid large blocks of condensed text. If you have a lot to say, break it up with headlines so people can scan and quickly find out what a section of your website is about before reading it.

💡Remember, most who visit your website are looking for a few simple things. People want to see your work, your package, and your pricing. If all goes well, they will want to book you online.

 6. They use too many images.

Avoid making your website just a digital portfolio. While you certainly want to show your amazing work, there is a lot more to the story and often people will be confused about what to do next. You'll also miss out on some basic SEO and get a lot of the same questions.

7. They focus too much on making a beautiful website.

Your website needs to look great. But it also needs to be effective and easy to use. Do not sacrifice a fancy website for one that leaves people with more questions than answers. Confusion is the enemy of sales, and the more straightforward you can present your services, the better. Common signs your website is too fancy include lots of movement, hidden content with slider sliders, slow loading pages, confusing navigation, and a general lack of direction for the visitor.

8. They use weak calls-to-action.

You need to help people know where to go next if they want to continue the process of hiring you. All too often, we see people only use the "Contact Me" call-to-action, which leads to a page with a web form. Don't be shy about sprinkling in more direct calls-to-action throughout your website to remind people you are ready for their business. Effective calls-to-action for photographers are "View Packages", "Pricing" and "Book Now”.

💡 Remember, your calls-to-action should stick out like a soar thumb. Make them big colorful buttons with easy to understand intent. 

9. They show lengthy testimonials.

One of the best ways to communicate with a new customer will have a good experience sharing testimonials of past clients. It's important not to overdo it. Feel free to take a few sentences out of a long one to shorten it up. Bump up the font size so it's easy to read. You only need a few and you can sprinkle them around your website so people are sure to see them.

10. They don't offer online booking.

If your website does its job well, people are going to want to know how they can book you. Clients love the convenience of online booking. It also makes you look like a true professional. A proper online booking system for your photography services will make picking a package, scheduling a date, signing a contract, and paying a deposit effortlessly. After all, when you are easy to book you get more business.

December 9, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Mini Session Ideas [Inspiration]

Running a successful photography business often means developing a steady flow of business throughout the year. While your bread and butter may be seasonal, you can fill in your calendar with back-to-back mini sessions throughout the year. They're a great way to bring new people into your business and open up the opportunity for more sales down the road.

We've curated a list of mini session ideas to get inspired and offer something people in your area are going to love.

New Year Eve Mini Sessions

People love posing with props displaying the new year. Be sure to bring glitter, gold, and your sequin backdrops. Champagne flutes with cider also add to the feeling of celebration.

Valentines Day Mini Sessions

Perfect for new and longtime couples. Promote this one as a great gift. Red hearts, balloons, and flowers make perfect props. A simple white backdrop will make the rest of the colors pop. 

4th of July Mini Sessions

Show your spirit and be sure to bring in the red, white, and blue. American flags and rustic will fit right in. Bandanas, sunglasses, and handheld flags make great props.

Easter Mini Sessions

Stuffed bunnies, yellow chicks, and giant Easter eggs can make for a great backdrop.

Carousel Horse Mini Sessions

Pick up a vintage carousel horse for the kids to sit on. You might need to paint it, and our/mount it. If you do it right, you can rent out to other photographers and earn.

Rocking Horse Mini Sessions

The bigger, the better. Maybe even make it a unicorn. Consider adding pillows and pajamas to the mix.

👋 BTW, Check Cherry offers some great software for booking mini sessions online.

Lemonade Stand Mini Sessions

It's every kid's first business. Build a wooden stand, serve some lemonade, and capture the wholesome goodness.

Red Wagon Mini Sessions

Pick up a vintage radio flyer red wagon. 

Pedal Car Mini Sessions

Those old pedal cars are too cute. 

My Favorite Toy Mini Sessions

This one is an excellent way for parents to document their child's favorite toy. Be sure to ask people what they are bringing, so you know what to expect. 

Gone Fishing Mini Sessions

Grab a few old fishing poles and catch some cuteness. A wooden pole with a string and fake fish can be magical for toddlers. For older kids, you might want to have some cute hats and small fishing rod as props. 

Pet Mini Sessions

People love their pets, and it's fun for people to bring them to a photoshoot and mingle with other pet lovers. Consider partnering with a local animal shelter to get the word out. You might even want to donate a portion of the proceeds.

First Day Of School Mini Sessions

Grab a small chalkboard for parents to write the child's name and the grade they are entering. Include some apples, staplers, books, and a globe for props.

Sweet Stuff Mini Sessions

Make a candy bar with beautiful jars and color-coordinated treats. Giant lollypops and vintage popcorn bags will be popular.

Holiday Card Mini Sessions

Everyone needs that perfect picture for their Holiday Card. This mini session sells so well some choose not to offer it and instead do short sessions.

Pumpkin Patch Mini Sessions

Bring out the pumpkins of all colors, stack the hey barrels and throw in some rustic wood. A wheel barrel is a great option. Consider partnering with your local pumpkin patch early in the season.

Suggested Article: Fall Mini Session Ideas

Do you have a great example of one of the mini sessions we listed? We'd love to show your work and promote your business with a link. Just start a chat with us to get started.

September 24, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Mini Session Packages & Pricing [Tips and Tricks]

Mini sessions present a fantastic opportunity for portrait photographers to earn more, attract new customers, and build their portfolio. They can also be a great way to get your name out there and reengage with past clients. 

What is a mini session?

Mini sessions are miniature versions of the full photography sessions you already offer. They are less expensive, shorter in length, and produce fewer final photos for the client. To make them profitable, photographers often group several slots back to back on a single day and location.

BTW, Check Cherry has some nifty features for scheduling mini sessions and promoting them to your audience via email or social media.

When should I offer mini sessions?

There are no set seasons for mini sessions. Minis can be an effective marketing tactic and help expand your client base by attracting new clients with a reasonable offer all year. Some photographers offer mini sessions several times a year, and it's become a staple of their business.

Other photographers only sell mini sessions at strategic times of the year. They focus on times when budget-conscious families need a great family photo. For example, the months leading up to Christmas, minis can be a great way to help families with a picture for their annual Christmas card. Doing mini sessions to raise funds for a good cause is a great way to get your name out there, build your brand and client base.

Why do clients like mini sessions?

While minis are less expensive, pricing is just one of the reasons people like buying mini sessions. They are also much shorter than full sessions and tend to last between 15 and 60 minutes. If you're a busy mom, have a restless toddler, moody teenager, or a husband who loathes taking pictures, you're going to appreciate the shorter session length. Minis also serve as a simple call to action to pick a slot, get those photos, and check it off your list.

☝️ The image above is an example booking page showing two dates and was created with Check Cherry. 

Packaging Your Mini Sessions

Now that we've laid some groundwork, we can talk about packaging those mini sessions. Here are a few tips to make your mini sessions packages attractive so your slots fill up fast. By using a combination of the items below, you can craft some extraordinary mini session packages.

1) Have a Clear Purpose

Make it clear why the person booking the mini should want to pick a spot. For example, if you think people will want some spooky shots of their kids in Halloween costumes, find a creepy location and offer Holloween Mini Sessions.

2) Leverage Location

As mentioned above, the location can add to the theme and purpose. However, the shoot location itself might be the reason to offer some mini sessions. Perhaps there is a particular time where a site is in it's prime for photos. For example, there are lavender fields in my area that bloom in June or July and tend to last 3-4 weeks. Mark it on your calendar, keep tabs on the field and get ready to offer minis when the timing is right.

3) Offer Multiple Days

One of the excellent characteristics of mini sessions is the minimal and flexible commitment for clients. It makes deciding to book so much easier. 

Consider offering two days back to back to increase the chances people will find a day that works for them. For example, if you want to offer Valentine's Day Mini Sessions, offer them on both Saturday and Sunday, each with multiple time slots.

4) Multiple Location Options

If you're doing minis for just a day or evening, you probably want to stick with one location. However, if you offer mini session slots over multiple days, you can offer multiple locations for clients to choose from. 

Keep your client's preferences in mind. Some people may prefer one style over another, and one location may deliver that better than another. Think of nature settings vs. urban backgrounds or rugged vs soft.

Another reason to offer multiple locations is you can get closer to two major hubs in your area and make it a lot more convenient for clients who want a shorter drive to the site.

5) Limit Session Length

While it goes without saying, keep session length on the shorter side. At Check Cherry, we see most photographers setup mini session slots for 15-30 minutes. Remember, it can be conducive to include a buffer between each slot. For example, you might set up eight 20-minute slots with a 10-minute buffer between each one to allow for the goodbye and how are you small talk.

Related Article: Mini Session Ideas 

6) Set Expectations

It's always a good idea to let people how many final photos they can expect from the session. We typically see this number under 10. However, we've also seen photographers offer all the photos they snap in the session for one price. Keep in mind your time it will take to edit the photos.

Specifying a maximum number of people for each mini session is smart more. You can always charge more for larger 8+ groups. The general idea here is you just want to prevent relatives from showing up and crashing your session. 

When can the client expect to receive photos from the sessions? While adding a time frame puts you on the hook for delivering, it will also help people know if they'll have the photos in time for their needs and prevent a log of messages asking: "Are ready yet?"

☝️ The image above is an example booking page created with Check Cherry. 

Pricing Your Mini Sessions

Mini sessions are often the first contact a new client has with your business, and it will set the anchor for your value. Naturally, the total price of a mini session should be priced lower than your standard sessions. However, that does not mean they need to be less profitable. By keeping your mini sessions profitable, you can over-deliver, set anchors for your value, and make full sessions seem like a better deal.

For example, a client may perceive the rates for two packages:

20 Minute Mini Session Package: 

   $75, includes 5 final images

   (perceived value of $225 per hour and $15 per photo)

2 Hour Regular Session Package:

   $360, includes 30 final images

   (perceived value of $180 per hour and $12 per photo)

In other words, they are going to get more value if they go with a two-hour regular session. The mini session can help them to know you, your works, and you can start the process of building a relationship with the client.

Some mini sessions will be much more popular than others. If you know the chances of selling out your minis will be high, price accordingly. If you're testing out a new concept and need images for your portfolio, you might want to be more aggressive on the price so you can be sure to fill out those slots.

Scheduling Your Mini Sessions

If you want to maximize the chances of people booking your mini sessions, make it easy for them to book. Use an online booking platform like Check Cherry to make booking mini sessions easy for both you and your clients. It's also a great way to send out automated emails or texts with helpful reminders leading up to the session date. We made a video for mini sessions to show you how it all works. 

August 20, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Custom Branded QR Codes

Let's face it: QR codes are rather ugly. I suppose it's one of the reasons I've never been a big fan of using them, especially for customer-facing purposes. However, QR codes are a handy and downright amazing technology. With the COVID-19 Pandemic lingering, they are being used more and more by photo booth software providers to aid in contactless photo booth experiences.Have you ever wanted to add your branding within a QR code? We'll there is an awesome website which does just that. Just upload your image, add some text, and it will generate a QR code.Have fun!

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July 29, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

How to book your first photography client online [8 easy steps]

Too many people who visit your website never book. That's why we wrote this helpful guide to help you book your first photography client online.When you offer the convenience of self-booking online booking from your website, you'll get more bookings and better leads. That's because you make life easier for both you and your clients. By showcasing packages and pricing, you'll modernize your booking process and make it easy for people to know if they are a good fit for your business. Here are eight easy steps to get your first online booking:1. Create PackagesPackages make it easy for people to evaluate, compare and pick the best option for their needs.

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May 8, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Photo Booth Business Checklist

So you're looking to start a photo booth business. We've got you covered with a checklist of things you'll want to consider as you progress from the initial inception to your first successful paid photo booth customer.Evaluate ViabilityTake some time to evaluate why you want to start a photo booth business. Are you happy in your full-time job and looking for extra income? Perhaps you're unhappy with your current employer and looking to transition to running your business full-time. You might want to supplement your existing business with a new service.Market ResearchIt's a good idea to look at your potential competition. Do some google searches for "photo booth rental NEARBY-CITY-NAME" and see what comes up.

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February 17, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Photography Contracts, Signatures and Deposits [General Guide]

Running a successful photography business means you'll be doing business with a lot of people. As your business grows, you'll move on from doing business with friends, family, and friends of friends to doing business with strangers. This article will cover the importance of requiring all clients first to sign an agreement and pay a deposit.Why should I make clients sign an agreement?A solid photography contract will spell out all the terms and conditions of your services. It's common to have not have covered everything during the sales process. For example, photographers often include a model release, allowing them to use photos from a session in their marketing materials.

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January 30, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

The Most Popular Photo Booth Backdrops

A lot of business was done using Check Cherry's photo booth booking software in 2019. We thought it would be helpful to analyze and share some of the data with the community. This article will be helpful if you are new to the industry and looking to buy your first backdrops. After all, you'll want to get the most bang for your buck. For those more established, it may be helpful to get an idea/confirmation of what the market is doing. Perhaps you're missing out on an important option, or maybe you need to diversify so you can stand out from the crowd. Be sure to look at the smaller words below; you might spot an upcoming trend.This word/tag cloud is based on the name of each backdrop selection that happened on Check Cherry during 2019.

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January 23, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

See All Competitor Facebook Ads [Marketing Hack]

Have you ever wanted to see what your closest competition is doing with Facebook advertising? In this article, I'll show you how you can browse the ads of your competitors and cover some ways this information can be helpful and also how it might not be so important.A few things before we get started:The search covers all Facebook platforms, including Instagram.You can search by the name of a Facebook Page to see results.Only active ads will show.One does not need a Facebook or Instagram account.About Ad LibraryFacebook has been under meaningful pressure related to its business model, privacy policies, and the impact of advertising on social issues, elections, or politics for its platforms.

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January 13, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

2019 Highlights

I'm proud of all we accomplished in 2019 and motivated by the excitement and appreciation of our customers when they see each new iteration of Check Cherry. In my recap of 2018, I wrote Matt and I both felt that 2019 was going to be even better than in 2018. I'm happy to share, our instincts proved to be accurate. While it's been a lot of work, it's also been a lot of fun to see Check Cherry continue to mature and help more people.Our customers are continually sharing feedback while they use and implementing the Check Cherry's style of a CRM or booking management system into their business. I want to give a HUGE thank you to all of those who took the time to provide feedback (big and small) to help make the platform better.

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