The first week of the “season” for school and sports team photographers is usually smooth. It’s a clean slate. As the weeks go on though, there are rain-outs, make up days, internal staffing drama- these small issues can pile up quickly and before you know it, so does the paperwork. The nightmare of paperwork can cause stress, negativity and headaches, none of which lead to happy photographers or great photos.
PhotoDay can prevent the paperwork piles and the stress, but communication and preparation are key. Before you start working with a new organization, make sure to ask the following questions:
How do you communicate the schedule with parents? Email? Text? App? Social Media?
How often do you communicate information regarding important dates with parents?
Can you add picture day information to those channels?
What type of information (files) can I provide to make this easier? (HTML link, PDF flyer, JPG file for social, etc)
Who do I send this information to?
Do you have an official or unofficial “team mom” or manager?
Can you copy me on all communications regarding picture day so I can stay proactive and follow up communications and make picture day a success?
Is there a place for me to hang posters parents will see in the weeks leading up to Picture Day?
Can I have a roster with contact information?
What are your biggest complaints about previous picture days?
The sooner you have that information, the sooner you can start your marketing campaign, not just to the league and coaches, but to parents directly.
We asked some of our trailblazers, photographers who really take PhotoDay to the next level, to share their thoughts on how PhotoDay has changed the way they prepare for picture day.
How has PhotoDay changed the way you prepare for upcoming picture days?
I don’t have to spend time and postage printing envelopes. I no longer have to go drop off envelopes and pick them back up. Even though my marketing has changed pre-picture day, I have less marketing cost. Personally, I have a lot less stress worrying about completing all of these tasks before the season starts.
Previously, we would get a package together for each school consisting of posters, sign up sheets, business cards, samples and forms/price sheets. I would spread out everything on the floor about 15 schools at a time, and operate like a conveyor. It was comical, especially if the dog decided to enter the picture! Then we would send via USPS priority mail. We would send this information approximately one month in advance
It was time-consuming, and I dreaded the process. Occasionally I would get, “you sent us the wrong dates”, which meant that somebody ELSE also got the wrong dates. Not a good look.
Now I have 7 different downloaded attachments which I send via email. Everything is customized for each individual school with all the specific information they need.
A colorful, personalized Picture Day poster, which the school can print if they wish. This would include the name of the school and the dates. I also include a detailed price sheet showing packages, products, downloads, and prints. Then, I provide parents with a “how-to order” form along with the all-important opt-in text code, a reminder of the session fee, an introductory form introducing myself and my credentials and the coupon code which introduces free shipping.
This has tremendously streamlined the process and reduced the margin for error. It gets the school started earlier with the raw data and they can tweak it at their discretion.
PhotoDay has completely changed everything about the way I prepare for picture days. In the past I would completely freak out about the upcoming shoot. From hiring or finding help to accepting credit/debit card payments, filling and running checks, filling out and assisting with order forms and so on. Now with PhotoDay, other than sending out my contact an email with said league/team announcing the event with a text code, there’s not much for me to do. This allows me to be personable with parents and players, chat up what I do and offer, and get everyone excited about things to come!
Before we only took photos of the kids who had an order form in hand. Some organizations had less than 60% participation. Now we use the flyer system and AdvancePay credits, and we assume everyone will have their photo taken – and we check Insights to see if my contact has even sent out the information. We can reach back out and push the information out again if we don’t see enough opt ins. It keeps them accountable. For the organizations who opt to use picture day as a fundraiser and elect to receive a % of sales back, we increase the fundraising amount based on participants (opt-ins) & purchases and the amount of athletes they have registered.
I don’t have to worry about order forms, AT ALL! It’s so much easier to communicate with parents – and the way I explain it to the coach- Once we take your athlete’s photos – you don’t deal with ANYTHING else! It’s totally hands-free for the organization!
One of the big changes I’ve noticed is that I have become much more proactive from the start. Our industry is maturing, and I feel we must move in this direction sooner rather than later. In the past, I’d meet with the event organizers and drop off order forms. The first question I’d ask is what the issues were in the past. Many of these issues can be addressed with PhotoDay. The most important question I ask is “Who is responsible for all of the marketing and content?”. For example, with one of my organizations I work with various directors for the multiple sports– but there is also just one person who controls all of their marketing and content. That’s the person we all need to look for and provide all the resources they need to effectively communicate picture day.
Everything is different. Before PhotoDay – we had to lay out forms, figure out what we were selling and get them printed. Then we had to deliver the forms. We needed to get rosters for the kid’s names in advance. We need less staff at events now, so scheduling is a lot easier!
General Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” He probably wasn’t talking about picture day, but anyone who has run a picture day knows that it can sometimes feel like a war. At PhotoDay, we’re here to help you win the war and be the most successful you can be.