make money from photography

How do photographers make money when they give away free photos?

dollar symbol on hook
Mark Lait

Mark Lait

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using a competition to make money

How do photographers make a large profit from giving away free photos?

We all run competitions to get leads, that’s the oldest trick in the book and everyone does it.

I’ve known photographers who, probably because of inexperience give the prize winner all of the photos from the shoot – how are they going to make any money from that?

Don’t sacrifice them all.

They’re not, that’s the simple answer. Many see it as the loss leader that it is, every now and then you have to do a photoshoot for free as the major prize from your competition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money from it. Let me explain.

I’ll repeat it until the day I die but people will always spend more than they thought they were going to, even the ones who have come to get the free thing are likely to spend, the prize winners are a good example.

When you couple this with the fact that the value is not there until they see the photos you have a perfect storm.

By what means can you do this?

I’m Mark Lait and I worked out how to get money out of people who didn’t think they were going to spend anything and you can find this and other great tips on my website.

Subscribe to my youtube channel. Give this video a like and a thumbs up so that you can stay up to date with the business of photography.

angry cat hating photographers

State the value.

The secret is to give the only one photo for free.

That might sound a bit scabby but if that photo is a 20×30 inch canvas which is in your price list for let’s say $2500, and you have to be honest about it, if that canvas retails for $2500, when you add the cost of the session you can easily promote it as a $3000 prize.

Ignore the haters.

You’re always going to get the haters who will say it’s a scam, or how can a photo be worth $3000 but you just ignore them. There’s a reason they’re probably working a 9-5 while you get rich.

So, you’ve done the shoot, they’ve had fun and now you’re in the sales room looking at the photos – suddenly there’s value, they can see these beautiful images on the screen and they’re blown away … how are they going to pick their favourite? It’s a hard choice so make it easy for them, you’ll be surprised how often the client will say ‘which one do you think’ when they’re trying to decide.

Once a decision is made for the canvas, there’s this wonderful silence that can occur, they’ve just chosen the image for their prize but there’s all these other great photos there, and now that they’ve seen them, not only is there value but you’ve introduced desire – they want them, and, because you’re a responsible and transparent business owner and told them the price of your products before you started the shoot, they now have an idea of what it could cost.

But wait … you’ve got some great deals you can offer them if they wanted to make a purchase as well, haven’t you – yes, of course you have.

photo of sign saying give away

How much does the ‘free’ item cost you?

That canvas that’s in your price list for $2500 will probably cost less than $300 to produce but has a perceived value of $3000, more often than not, the client will think ‘well, I’ve got this beautiful wall display for free, I might as well get a few more photos while I’m here’ especially if you’ve got a great deal for them.


Make a bomb from your sales.

You know what, it doesn’t really matter what they buy because you’ll cover the cost of producing the canvas and history has shown us that more than 85% of the major prize winners go on to make further purchases and some of them are staggering – it’s clever stuff isn’t it?

We had someone in recently who wanted to get something special for her husband for their wedding anniversary, she’d bought a $90 special from our website which got her a photoshoot and a matted portrait of her choice – she spent $3900 and paid it in full at the time of the viewing.

It’s important that you eliminate doubt, and thinking that giving away a major prize is going to cost you money, it’s going to make you money if you just give it a chance.

While we’re on the subject of money – don’t miss the next episode where I’ll explain how money spent is money forgotten.

Have a good week and I’ll see you soon.