So, you know that in person sales will explode your income, but you’re not interested in renting a studio? I hear you! As someone who has sold products through a ton of different stages in my own photography career, I know how important a sales session can be when it comes to your bottom line! I also know that renting out a commercial space is not always the best option for your business. So I’ve compiled an extensive list of options that you may not have thought of!
Here’s 7 alternatives to renting out a commercial space for the purpose of sales sessions:
1. Buy a house:
This is for those interested in the real estate game. You personally buy a house, rent it out to your business, your business pays the mortgage in the form of rent, and before you know it, you have property to use as income later when you retire. If I ever want to invest in a studio again, this will be my go-to option. I do know, however, that this option would be the most costly in the beginning depending on how much money you want to put down, furnishings, and then add on monthly electricity and other expenses. While this would definitely be the most expensive, it is also the best investment. You are building equity & will make back most or more of your expenses when you sell or rent it out.
2. Host sales sessions in your clients’ homes:
This is how I got started. I would shlep all of my products, laptop, and order forms into their houses! Then sit down at their tables or in their living rooms, and sell $4,000 and $5,000 worth of product to them. I loved in-home sales sessions because I could look at their interior decor and make product recommendations based on their interior colors, style, and more. We’d even go on a tour around the house while I would make notes of where their walls were bare and could use some large canvases. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the one hour commute both ways (my clients are usually from an hour outside of my area) or the scheduling issues for this option.
3. Use a workspace in your town:
These awesome locations are becoming more and more available to creatives to use as hourly rentable office spaces. Just choose your room, date and time, and bam! You have a great space to meet for sales. Just make sure to bring all your samples, laptop and order forms with you to make the sales session ready to go. A great idea to extend your time in a workspace is to stack your ordering appointments one after the other. This way, you can set up your samples once for several sessions.
4. Rent from another photog in your town on an as needed basis:
This is also another option for those who don’t want to invest in a long term space. I would recommend an hourly rental contract between you and the space owner to ensure clear boundaries & timelines just in case anything outside of your control happens. I’d also recommend not renting from a photographer who shoots the same genre as you. You don’t want your competitors portfolio all over the walls while you’re trying to sell your own products to your clients.
5. Host sales sessions in your own home:
If you’re up for sales sessions in your own home, this is another great option! You can set up the sales space with your product samples, offer beverages and snacks, and have everything you need right there for the session! The only cons to this type of setup are you’ll want to keep your home clean for the rotating client guests. Additionally, clear boundaries would need to be set with your family to not interrupt your sales sessions. I also know of several photographers who have built onto their personal homes a studio and sales space with its own entry door. This way, clients don’t have to go into the home (which means you don’t have to keep the family away or have a clean home at all times). If you opt for this choice, make sure you have a very good business insurance plan that includes any accidental liabilities. You don’t want a client tripping over your rug and falling, then suing you.
6. Rent out a hotel conference room:
If you’re looking for a neutral space with privacy and don’t have a workspace available to you, look into renting a hotel conference room for a day. Stack your sales sessions one after the other! This would allow you to bring your samples, set them up for the entire day, and meet with your clients in a private space.
7. Meet in a coffee shop instead of a commercial space:
While this is my least favorite option, it works in a pinch. I’m not a huge fan of this type of meeting because it’s not private. It’s usually distracting and not a great place to set up your samples. But, I do know a lot of photographers who have made it work! They have been super successful in spite of the space.
Want to know what I’ve done for sales sessions in the past 12 years of my photography career? Check out this blog post complete with pictures of each space!