Groupon Review for PhotographersWe decided to put this Groupon Review for Photographers together to keep from having to email the same things over and over. After running our own Groupon on Oct. 2009, we have been asked by at least 50 different photographers from all over the nation to give advice on our experience.

We have had a lot of time to think about what we would do differently if we were to do Groupon again. How would we maximize profits and give users the best possible experience.

How to sign up with Groupon

Groupon’s process takes several weeks (at least in our area). The first thing we did was sign up on their Groupon For Business website. After signing up, our area account representative contacted us about 3-4 weeks later. She said that they were considering us for an ad and thus began the process of getting “approved” to be on the site.

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During this process the photographer will be lead to believe that if he/she doesn’t give away more stuff that they won’t run the Groupon for them. The answer to that fear should be “okay, don’t run it, but I am not giving away my digital files.”

After the initial contact and several questions asked, we found out that we were in fact approved just a couple of weeks later. Then our ad ran two to three weeks after that. At this point we were excited, but later would find out why we made a bit of a blunder with Groupon. (see below)

Learn from Groupon case studies

  • Groupon Case Study 1 – Sarah Ester Photography sold almost 2,000 sessions at $49 each.  Read the full story to see why we think this is the biggest Groupon mistake ever!
  • Groupon Case Study 2 – AH Photography Groupon – Slightly better than minimum wage. Lots of banter in the comment section of this one.
  • Groupon Case Study 3 – Brad Walters Photography structured a nearly perfect Groupon Deal.
  • Groupon Case Study 4 – Adam and Eve Photography’s Groupon deal.  Not a lot of up sell potential.

Why are you shooting? To make a living?

Why are you in business? Are you in business to make a profit, provide additional income for your family and perhaps be able to make a career with professional photography? If you answered “yes” then keep reading.

If you answered “no” then you may want to stop and assess your goals and aspirations. Groupon is an advertising firm trying to sell as many of product or service XYZ as possible. Once they have sold a bunch of them, YOU have to do the work. So make Groupon profitable for YOU!!!

During the approval phase, you will be asked to define the deal that you are willing to offer for the Groupon special. This is the most critical part of your decision.

Our Groupon Deal

For our own special, we offered a sitting and three full-resolution digital images. (Big mistake BTW) We negotiated a split with Groupon for 50%, but I understand that you can get them to pay you more in certain cases.

Don’t give ANY digital images away!!!!

Our biggest mistake was including any digital images in our offer. The reason is that when forced (by way of paying more money) many clients will move toward narrowing down their images to just the three. Groupon clients, in our experience are looking for a deal. While some will upsell, the majority of them will not if you give them images that they have control over.

If you include prints instead, then the client still has a reason to purchase other products from you.

And, if you make your prints high enough, then there will be incentive to purchase all of the digital images.  (if that is your business model)

What we would do next time

If we had to do Groupon all over again, our approach and strategy would be much different. We would offer the sitting fee and an 11×14 print only. The sitting fee would be worth $160 and the 11×14 would be about $112. That
would be a value of $272 which we would offer for say $75. Even with a 50% split the profit would be $37.50 for the shoot minus the cost of the print and shipping of about $17, that would leave us with $20 for doing the shoot.

Twenty Bucks? Are you Kidding?

Because the client has only an 11×14, they will have to purchase any of our other prints separately. We won’t swap the 11×14 for anything smaller at all. Why? Because an 11×14 doesn’t fit on anyone’s home scanner.

Our prints / digital images for sale after the fact is what brings us the most profit from Groupon. The Groupon special gets them in the door as a “loss leader” while the after sales brings the per session average to $400 or so.

After the thirty minute shoot, we would have the client select ALL of their prints and or digital images that they want to purchase. They would have to choose them that day. When you show the images to the client online or in person, they should know that this will be the very last time that they ever see the images.  Not as a threat, but as a fact.

Clients won’t be able to stand just getting one image so they will purchase more prints or all of digital images. Our biggest seller by far is the ability to purchase all of the digital images from the session for $390.  You can price this however you would like.

What is the Groupon potential?

Let’s say that your Groupon gets you 150 sales the day it runs. With a 66% redemption rate of the coupons, 100 people are going to have their session done with you. (I am guessing at the redemption rate based on our
experience)

If you can average $400 per client for 100 clients, then you will pull $40,000. Not bad at all. Add in the $37.50 per client from Groupon x 150 clients and you have another $5,000 with costs of about $2,000 or a net of $3,000. So Groupon brings your photography business $43,000 for a one day ad. Great business indeed.

  • How are you going to handle the phone calls and bookings from Groupon? You will be absolutely flooded with calls and emails after the daily feature on their site. How are you going to handle the
    calls and emails and make most efficient use of your time?
  • How to maximize your Facebook Page to make it work for you? – If used right, Facebook can be an ATM machine for you.
  • How to sell your images after the shoot – So many photographers struggle with this most critical part of the session. The sales session will be the difference between a successful photographer and a
    weekend warrior who has to keep a “real” job.

Quick Update

Groupon no longer publishes the exact total of the deals sold on their website.  It used to be that they would say for example “390 sold.”  Now, they will say, “over 300 sold.”  The public can no longer see just how many deals go through.