7 Clever Ways Photographers Use Coupons to Increase Sales

7 Clever Ways Photographers Use Coupons to Increase Sales

by Grover Sanschagrin

Everyone loves coupons. They offer the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of walking away the proud owner of a genuine “bargain.”  I can remember my mother cashing in stacks of carefully cut coupons at the grocery store and how proud she was that she was not only saving money but somehow “beating the system.”


At the risk of shattering those precious childhood memories, I don’t think she was actually “beating the system” at all, but rather cashing in on a feel-good marketing tactic created by the system itself. She got her $0.15 savings and a sense of victory, the cereal makers got their $1.35 and moved a box of frosted flakes. Win win, right?

A few weeks ago, we made it possible for photographers to create coupons for their images allowing them to offer additional incentives to buyers and drive more image sales.

Since then, members of the PhotoShelter community have come up with some pretty creative ways to use these coupons to create that motivational “beating the system” feeling for their own customers.

7 Really Clever Ways Photographers Use Coupons to Increase Sales

1) One-Day Discounts on a Special Theme
Sara Wolfram is a wedding and portrait photographer based in California. As soon as the coupon feature was announced, she set up her first promotion.

“I launched a special “Valentine’s Day Discount” for all my family photography clients, to help motivate the slower buyers that I’ve been waiting on for orders,” she said. “It was so easy – I didn’t have to worry about configuring anything in the PayPal/shopping cart area, I just filled in a few blanks in the Coupon area and… Voila! I sold $375 in photos in one day! I love it.”

2) As part of a follow-up “Thank You” campaign
Kevin N. Murphy, a portrait photographer in Seattle, jumped on the coupon feature as soon as he learned it was available.

“I emailed a client a 10% off coupon as a ‘Thank you’ because they had gotten in touch with me that day about their pictures,” he said. “Within an hour of emailing them the coupon code they had placed a $100 order!”

Murphy said that he had shot their portraits over a year ago but the customer never finished with the ordering process.

“I don’t think there was really any problem, but in a family with two kids something had always interrupted them,” he said. “The coupon was just the nudge they needed to complete their order.”

3) Reconnecting with long-inactive customers

Scott Indermaur is a freelance photographer in New England, and is often hired to shoot several events each year, yet these events rarely produce print sales from the participants. He used a coupon to change that.

“I sent out a coupon to about 100 people [via email] and I had and made a sale,” he said.

The coupon he created was good for 20% off and the customer said that she wanted to use the coupon again with another order next week.

“The images she wants are from 5 years ago and are not live,” he said. “So, I will make 2 older events live and extend her coupon (or issue a new one) for a week so she can purchase more.”

“I’m sure this sale would not of happened if it wasn’t for the coupon,” he said.

4) Making promo cards more “valuable”
Karsten Moran is a commercial and editorial photographer in New York City. For the past three years, he has been shooting the Trek Across Maine, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association of New England. This year, he plans to work coupons into the mix.

“I am planning on handing out coupons on the backs of Moo cards this year as an incentive and attention-getter,” he said. “I expect (hopefully) that the coupons will give potential print buyers an extra reason to hold on to the cards.”

5) Quick and easy one-off discount tool
“If I have a customer I want to give a discount to, for whatever reason, I can now deal with that online with a special coupon for them instead of over the phone,” Indermaur said. “Therefore, taking less time.”

Moran says that he uses coupons for this reason as well.

“I used it to provide a discounted reprint to a client,” Moran said. “It was convenient, and allowed me to reduce the cost of a single purchase, without reducing the retail value of my product.”

6) Pushing “pending sales” to complete the process

Joel Strickland is a commercial and automotive photographer in Melbourne, Australia. He saw the coupon feature as a way to convert those “Pending Sales” into completed orders. Within a week of the coupon feature’s availability, he created his first one.

“I sent a message out to all pending sales in my shopping card for a special offer for 50% price reduction,” he said. “I converted one sale through to a final sale, and I am hoping to use them more and more in the coming months.”

7) Incentive to build a mailing list
Adrian Young is a documentary and editorial photographer in Bangkok, Thailand. Part of his marketing efforts involve maintaining a mailing list. It can be a challenge to get people to sign up to receive emails, so providing incentives can help increase sign-up percentages.

“I have only had the coupon in place a couple of weeks now,” said Young, “Though no sales yet with the coupon, it has helped me see a rise in people signing up for the email list.”

For more information about using coupons, please see our story, Ten Tips for Using Coupons to Market Your Photography.

Grover Sanschagrin is co-founder and Vice President of PhotoShelter. Follow him on Twitter at @heygrover.

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  1. warrendiggles at 4:13 pm

    Hello, Just wanted to give a shout out for the coupons, yesterday I implemented my first coupon for digital files – 25% off local business usage, today had 5 $75 sales. Keep up the good work! Warren Diggles

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