Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Will You Put My Proof Gallery Back Online?

Most clients are able to make decisions in a timely manner, but there will always be a client who does't make a decision before their proof gallery expires and ends up asking for extra time.  If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few different ways you can approach it:

1.  Set Ordering Deadline Expectations
If your photography agreement or contract did not state up front how long a gallery would be available, or a cost for extending gallery viewing and ordering beyond the contracted availability, you'll probably need to be gracious for the first extension or reopening of a gallery after it has expired.  This is when, in writing or over email, you will need to communicate exactly how long the gallery will be available to make their decision, and the cost to extend that timeframe if they cannot place their order or make their decision in a timely manner.

2.  Invite The Client To An Ordering Meeting
If the client is having a hard time making a decision, communicate that in order to view the images again, you will be happy to set up an in-person appointment, at which time you will be able to provide your expert opinion to make their ordering decision easier.  If the client is unavailable to meet in person, you could also schedule this arrangement over Skype and use Screen Sharing.  While the quality will not be as great for the client via screen sharing, you will be able to discern the better options and help make it less confusing for an indecisive client.

3.  Request An Ordering Deposit
If you clearly outlined that a gallery would only be available until a specified date and a client has chosen not to make a decision during that time, an alternative form of an extension fee is a deposit toward their order, which can be collected before making the images available again and applied once an order is placed, to cover any costs you might be incurring for hosting their images in an online ordering cart.

Obviously, the goal is to have clients who are happy with your service and product, while still setting appropriate expectations so that you aren't draining your resources and ability to serve clients in a timely fashion.  Do you have other ideas?  What works for you?  Share your thoughts in the comments!
Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


  1. I recently had this problem with a client. Despite explaining that the viewing appointment when we meet is when my client would be placing her order, releasing the proof website prior to the meeting so she could review the pictures and "mull" them over (something I've don't normally offer), she rescheduled our appointment 3 times (due to a heavy work schedule) and when we did meet, she was adamant about not making any decisions about her order during that appointment. Throughout the years, I've had other clients ask for more time to decide so I've built in a package credit that MUST be used during this appointment. It's usually enough incentive for them to make some decisions. But it didn't work this time. She simply ordered enough to cover the credit and delayed the big decisions. I felt like my hands were tied because she was so determined that she needed more time.

    This is not a normal occurrence but I was wondering if you have any ideas of how to avoid this in the future? I felt like I did all I could: released the images before the meeting, offered photographer suggestions of what she could do with the images, and set aside time to meet with her so that she could devote some uninterrupted time to making those decisions.

  2. Some people don't show images online at all- these are usually portrait photographers who rely on the sales session for their business model. The only way their clients can view the images is in the studio. This prevents the hemming and hawing that comes with looking at images for too long, and creates a buy-now incentive. However, there will always be people who find it very difficult to make decisions and will require more time than usual. Sometimes looking at the images too long creates more indecision. If they have taken advantage of your credit, but insist they want more, simply let them know that they are welcome to set up another viewing appointment within a set time frame- or an archive retrieval fee may apply. If they'd like to insist on keeping the gallery online- you could use this as an opportunity to say- I'm happy to extend your online gallery for $$- or you can set up another viewing appointment in the future. It sounds like there's a chance this person may not actually want to buy more, but they are making it seem like they do, so it's best not to put any more effort into the sale until they demonstrate they are ready to make a decision.


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