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DPChallenge Forums >> Out and About >> Business of Photography - Group 2
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01/04/2006 05:41:47 PM · #1
If you are not a mentorship participant, please do not post in this thread - you may PM me or a group member with questions or comments. Thanks!
Group 2 participants:

mavrik, brizmama, wavelength, jpochard, les0910, rebelgirl, idnic, karmat, kevinriggs, BeachMel, Prof_Fate, wee_ag,

This group is going to be more seminar than lecture - so I need all of your help as much as you can pick my brain. So - where are you all in terms of your business. Everyone in this group should know what they are trying to focus on - so can we start like this:

Focus - weddings, portraits (seniors, pets, family and maternity), stock photos.
Goals - 25 weddings, 100 portraits, $2500 in stock in 2006.
Needs to learn/figure - consistency, client management, ...

Can you guys fill the rest of the group in - who are you, what do you do, what do you want from the group?


Message edited by author 2006-01-05 23:03:14.
01/04/2006 06:03:02 PM · #2
My business, fledgling as it is, is a part-time venture for much needed additional income. I work full-time and do photography about the same number of hours each week. When not shooting, I'm usually processing shots, uploading stock, reading photography books/magazines, etc....

My goals for 2006
Focus - portraits, stock and MINIMAL weddings
Goals - 2 weddings, 52 portraits (1 per week on average), 50 stock images uploaded per month
Need to learn - generating new clients, refining my professional reputation, spending less money/more time

Beginning attemts: This is my business card with logo ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/15266/thumb/235948.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/15266/thumb/235948.jpg', '/') + 1) . ', this is my website: PenrodStudios and I have basic, but adequate studio equipment.

That's me. :)
01/04/2006 09:35:31 PM · #3
I started with the thought of making a few extra bux to buy more toys - and it turns out i like it well enough i want to go full time. Since I can pay my bills working part time at my 'regular' job, I don't need to make all that much to give that up and be a full time photographer.

This past year has been spent acquiring basic good equipment and discovering what works for me - that is weddings, senior portraits, and surprisingly pet portraits.

2006 Goals:
$15,000 in gross income (a rather lofty goal i think, but attainable)
Shoot 5 weddings , some maybe even paid :)
50 senior portraits (average of $300 per - on the low side for this area)
$4,000 in pet portraits (should be do-able based on 2005's results)

try some little league or similar sports shooting
try some alternate business models (more on this later if you want)
try some lifestyle shots (horses most likely, have a lead on that for spring)
Learn about stock and begin shooting for that (stock is a 2007 goal)
Attend a live seminar of some kind
Make a printed portfolio
Make 2 wedding albums from my shots of last year to show prospective brides

Technically, I need to learn to get it right in the camera 99% of the time. PS can fix alot, but I won't have the time to do it that way. I am getting better at this. It is my biggest weakness (i think anyway)

My website - //www.christopherperryphotography.com
my portfolio - //www.pbase.com/cpphotography
My biz card (well, the email changed)
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01/04/2006 09:40:31 PM · #4
My full time job is a contractor with the Coast Guard. It is about 44+ hours a week and then the rest is my new photography business and my family. I have decided to go full force with my business I just can't stop the passion.

My goals for 2006
focus-portraits, weddings and getting paid!
goals-4 weddings (I have one for Apr 22nd) 2 gigs a month studio. Collaborate more with other companies-doing boudior this month with a company in MD and meeting w/a highschool to do band shoots.
Need to learn-I couldn't agree more about generating new clients and spending less money. I am working on not buying anything w/out having gig money to pay for it.

I am always working on my portfolio and website. Business cards are pretty generic.
website: //abrittonphotography.com

Just an idea that I am using to do weddings to build portfolio pics. I am working w/2 other photographers to shoot as the second photographer. Pay isn't too bad and I get to use the shots in my portfolio. I get to learn the business from people already doing it.
01/04/2006 10:57:39 PM · #5
I actually have two other self-businesses, so a photography business is not my "bread and butter" money, but rather "play" stuff (lenses, etc.)

Focus -- Portrait (family, child, seniors), Small/informal weddings, Scenic (re--touristy) photography
Goals -- To make more than I've spent
Need to learn -- An efficient workflow that optimizes my time, and marketing techniques, Building a kick-butt portfolio (but I gotta have pics to go in it!)
01/05/2006 02:51:27 PM · #6
Chris - that's really detailed, great info! Are you giving out new cards or the one with the wrong email though? Are you linking people to your pbase? If so, why? Your #1 goal, before anything else, should be to figure out what image you want to project to clients. Your website, your portfolio, business cards - everything should project the image in a consistent manner. Some people get by on "working class" some on "ritzy" some on "funny" and others on "elegant." What are you? Look at your stuff - is it screaming that image?

Cindi - I LOVE your business card. Where do you get them printed and what's on the back? Professional reputation is even more than "doing great" it's doing great AND taking another step. The best professionals don't just do the job exceptionally - they do it with a boost. The first thing on your site I notice is the color of your menu and your "view photos" button - the text is slightly difficult to read. View it dispassionately - what does the front page of your site say to you?

Karma - your luck is that you don't and don't need or want to rely on photography. If the goal is to make more than you've spent, you have two clear goals instead of one - make money, spend money to improve the money making. If you want to shoot portraits - how are you starting? Family, friends, friends of friends? The best way I found isn't family and isn't friends - it's THEIR friends. Get talking to your mom's friend's daughter. She'll be the model. Free shoot, cd of images, signed release and everyone wins. Are you doing that sort of stuff now? If you are, what do you want to kick-butt more? Lighting? How much in lighting do you need to increase your profits? Your #1 goal before anything else needs to be a budget - for clear reasons. You want to make more than you spend. How much will you be spending and how much do you need? Then we can figure how you will get that and when you will spend that.

Allison - like everyone above, look at your site right now - but view it not as the designer or the artist, but as someone coming for the first time - nitpick it. Your site has a mixed message to me. It is very clean and "technical" in the top menu. And then the "about me" and "my style" are very pink and artzy. Which do you want to be? Your business cards maybe 'generic' because you don't know where you want to go yet? Where your business is heading?

I will wait for the rest of the crew before moving on - those are my thoughts on who has already posted. :)
01/05/2006 04:08:55 PM · #7
I'm a stay home mom who has been doing portrait photography for about a year now. Eventually, I would like to make some money off this venture but for now any income goes towards new equipment.

Focus - children, seniors (a new area for me), and family portaits, would like to learn stock photography for the slow times of the year.
Goals - I had 20 sittings last year, and would like to double that to 40 this year.
Needs to learn - business managment (ie: record keeping, order taking, etc), time managment, creating polished marketing materials (ie: web-site, portfolio), better color managment and consistant print quality.

I've been using smugmug for my web-site but have been looking to create something a bit more professional. See it here.

Here is my business card and some labels I recently had printed:

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' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25140/thumb/276999.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25140/thumb/276999.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
01/05/2006 04:20:53 PM · #8
I am giving out the corrected card. this one i posted here for opinions, and the opinion was the email should agree with the website...even though it is ridiculously long that way.

I have waffled and thought for 4 months on how to get a portfolio on the web. I want enough space, easy to upload, organize and navigate. Nothing i can do (code or find to use) meets those requirements. I have been on pbase about a week or so. 300Mb for $23 a YEAR. Hard to beat. I'm willing to run the risk of how it appears (for now) in exchange for the space, navigation, etc.

edit to add: while i was typing this Janice posted - i think smugmug was what i was after - i will go ponder this.

I may change the title to 'gallery' rather than portfolio. I am getting more hits in PBase than on my regular site - and my website is linked from there. I know it is not the optimum solution, but what is? Many swear by flash, but i have been tooooo many places where the computers cannot get access to a flash site (work places, coffee bars, libraries) so i ruled that out.

I may work on it some more. When i surfed i saw 3 kinds of websites, well 4 if you count flash sites - terrible junky lousy ones (lots of local photogs seem to hav gone that route, even when they PAY for the design!), real nice high end stuff (not in my budget) and mixtures like i have or something close to it (if not pbase, then a site that they can sell from - pictage, shutterpoint, collages that type of thing).

I can't recall, but one of them you can integrate into your site (i thought it was pbase, but maybe not). Some ask for hundreds of dollars a year for the service.

At this point i am convinced you need a web site, and consistent look/feel to all your marketing materials (bix cards, letterhead, signage, etc).

If i were to invest more money in something, it would be a dedicated business phone line, as i now share my home phone. Or perhaps I need to learn how to answer it better - my wife gets lots of work calls at home and will not permit me to change the answering machine. I don't get that many calls (yet).

As for 'detailed' - i find if i have a generic goal (go shoot stock or work on the website for example) i am likley as not to do nothing. If the goal is specific - go shoot fire hydrants or add some of amber and brians' images to the gallery - then i do it. I also have started setting times too - as in go work on the portfolio for 1 hour, instead of some open ended concept.

I am open to suggestions on improving my website. Of particular interest to me is the text - i need a good ad copy writer!

Message edited by author 2006-01-05 16:24:33.
01/05/2006 09:48:08 PM · #9
Sorry for the lateness. Could we get PM's on new updates, life is intruding upon DPC time for me ;O)

Business card for now, might change ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/260450.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/260450.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

something like this may be possible, or as a flipside ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/260449.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/43031/thumb/260449.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Website, needs galleries (working on it) but it's a very basic start: //www.brizfoto.com. Possible new dnsname is in order.

Goals, (this will be for both I and brizmama)

Break into stock. Get over $100 in sales.

Do three to five publicity or business headshots. (one already in the works)

Help my wife in any way I can with children and other portraits, and do as many shoots as I can otherwise. Hopefully we can get 10 paid seniors, and about 10 family or children portraits. She is better able to get people to smile than I, so I need to work on that maybe if she suddenly became unavailable for a shoot. Along with this we need to finalize pricing info.

This also involves growing our supply of backgrounds and other equipment, synch adapters for the cam, whatnot. Need more backgrounds and a stand. We also need to find some temporary indoor studio space free of charge (Our house will not work), and get portable power (possibly) for outdoor stuff. Grow the new Cokin P filter collection.

Possibly do a few weddings, this requires more equipment than we have right now (flash,fongball/bounce etc.), and more time I think. Tell me if you disagree. I would also want to have more than one camera, and both of them SLR's for that. If they're getting two photogs, they deserve two photogs with cameras on that day.

Learn Architecture photography. This may be quite hard with our widest angle at 28mm.

Get PS CS2 (no I will not download from a warez site).

Decide what web storefront to use, or if to use it all in the beginning. If all our clients are local, and we have low volume we'll stick with hand delivery. If we start getting referred to people 1 or 2 hours out, this may change very quickly.

If things are looking good (and possibly if they're not depending on financial conditions) we will get a basic SLR setup.

I just want to know, if you had to start it all over again, what would you NOT do, and what are the biggest pitfalls. We're being pretty conservative right now anyways, but good info to know.

Client management is good. Also, taxes, accounting, billing, blah, blah, blah.
01/05/2006 10:55:26 PM · #10
Ok, this is great! I'm really looking forward to input from you mavrik and everyone else. I feel that I am going to be at the back of the class as far as where I am with the business, but I appreciate your willingness to take me on!

So, a bit about wee...

I have been working full-time for a large Christian family camp in upstate New York for the past 5 years as their 'Marketing Specialist'. Basically this is a split between photographer and graphic designer. On the photography side of things I average about 7,000 photos a year (about 5,000 in the summer - our main season) ranging from chapel meetings, to families to nature. On the graphic design side I am in charge of the website and all their print publications, about 4 different brochures and lots of fliers and mailings as well.

For any interested, here is their website: //www.camp-of-the-woods.org

So, all that is to say that I am branching out on my own now and starting a personal business doing graphic design and photography. I will continue to work full-time until October, then I will finish at Camp and will only have this business as my income. I live in a very rural, but beautiful, area so finding business might be a challenge although opportunities for nature photography abound, which is my love. I think my main source of income will be from the graphic design, but of the two, my passion is photography. Another avenue I am considering is website design - but this may have to wait until I am finished at Camp because it could become very time consuming, but profitable.

My business name is 'Adirondack Graphic Design' and my undeveloped website will be //www.adkgraphicdesign.com.

Focus: Graphic design/marketing, nature/wildlife photography with possibilities of branching out into portrait and wedding work as there are few in the area that do it.
Goals: Get corporate identity set-up (including website), determine what services to offer and start finding business so that I am self-sufficient by October of this year.
Need to learn: Business! "Dammit Jim! I'm a photographer, not a businessman." Bookkeeping, what to charge, how to advertise (yes, this is my current job, but I am advertising something totally different now) and how to balance all this while working full-time and maintaining my sanity!

OK, that's all I can think of for now. I'm very excited about all this and look forward to our time learning together!


Message edited by author 2006-01-05 22:59:26.
01/05/2006 11:13:14 PM · #11
Seems several people here are weak on the business part of things, perhaps taxes etc as well. While i am not an accountant, I don't play one on TV either. I have however run a small biz of sorts from my home for the better part of 8 years and was a real estate agent for 5 years (aka self employment) so I have crossed many of the bridges you have ahead of you. I did not go to art school, i went to business school.

When we get to this part of Mav's 'course', I'll be happy to offer my knowledge on this aspect of things. So far I have not been audited, so I must be doing something right! LOL
01/06/2006 12:53:05 AM · #12
Hiya Mavrik and group. Mav - glad you like the card, reverse is Lexi in the clown suit very small in the corner (rest is all white, room for notes, appt. dates, etc). I get them printed at vistaprint with glossy on the text side.

I know the web has issues, problem there is I am the webmaster and I don't know jack! Messed with it for HOURS this morning (4am-9am) and added the beginnings of a PAD project - but was so hard to do I now have no energy to populate it.... even 5 days! ugh!

Help! :)
01/06/2006 01:22:01 AM · #13
My main priority is my family. My career is as a real estate agent, but my hobby of photography is also becoming a sideline business for me. The combination of being my "own boss" in both businesses (both things I really enjoy doing) gives me the flexibility I desire to live life more on my own terms, and not by someone else's preconceived schedule. My husband has the stable "good" job with excellent benefits, so my income is for savings, vacations, home improvements and other lifestyle type goodies.

I have been the paid photographer at two weddings, both small. I've been a friend "sideline" photographer at a few weddings where they have said they wishedI had been the paid photographer! I would call them successful. I have done a few maternity portraits and some senior portraits as well...also successful. I did have one maternity portrait session which I would call not particularly successful due to unease of the husband, but I did learn from it! I have sold some prints and have some framed prints for sale at the local visitors center in town, but none sold there yet. Just recently I did an family portrait set for a family and they ordered quite a few prints for gift-giving.

My goals for 2006:

I would like to have some consistant business practices in regards to my photography....prices, paperwork, ordering and proof viewing, etc.

I would like to purchase a DSLR and determine what my other needs are in regards to lenses and accessories (and purchase what I can.)

I would be happy doing 3 or 4 weddings a year and maybe 5 or 6 portrait sittings (family, senior, maternity). I suppose I need to determine what income I would be happy with, what my profits are likely to be in each area and how much business I actually need to do in order to reach my desired income level.

Marketing of myself comes pretty naturally, with being a real estate agent. I especially enjoy doing the maternity portraits and that is one area I plan to invest more time in promoting through local Dr.'s offices. I think it is also a type of photography that is not oversaturated in my area...we have a whole lotta senior portrait folks though.
01/06/2006 02:03:11 AM · #14
Hey all. I'm a full-time programmer and I have started this business on the side. Last year I shot a dozen weddings, I've shot paid sets for people who either are or want to make their living from modeling and I'm starting to shoot stock and make sales there. I've had my business license for the last 2 years and was able to write off losses for the first 24 months but that doesn't seem to be how '06 is starting to look.

I am the licensed bridal photographer for our local David's Bridal so I get leads for direct marketing (I can share the flyer I came up with for those) but I haven't yet shown at any of the bridal fairs. I, like several people probably, started shooting for next to nothing and found that I wanted to produce consistently high quality images and, oddly enough, get paid commensurate with that level of work. I now price my work at a pretty decent clip given that I'm not available during normal business hours.

My business card is
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and my website is
The website has an integrated store that I've written/updated with a colleague of mine but it definitely needs more work. I took some of my concerns to a local marketing company that has produced print & video work for PepsiCo and BP gas among others and they told me I need to present a more female-friendly image; get away from text and more into images so I'm trying to make that transition and also change what text I have in the menus to be less commercial and more "memory investment" related.

My main concerns have to do with juggling workloads (we normally shoot 1000+ images per wedding and I then edit that down but it takes time) and marketability: how do I as a 37 year old guy market myself in a tasteful manner to Moms & Dads for senior portraits while retaining the weddings & modeling portion of the photography I do?
01/06/2006 01:31:50 PM · #15
Based on some of what Kevin has said (fewer words) and Mav I have tweaked my website a bit. I have more to add to my gallery in photos as well as sections to better match my website.

Kevin - Not sure i like everything about the funciton of your website ( the overlay of the thumbnails and the BG changeing/fading in and out) - i find it a bit busy and distracting. I also find your images, the layout/organizaiton, to be a bit confusing. It's obvious you are a photographer, but i am not sure what type of photography you do - or want to do. The opening wedding image is great, but you do much more than that. The average jane that goes to your site looking for modeling or HS senior shots might be put off. Also, around here, there are a few HS seinor photogs that have a 'drity' reputation for approaching female HS seniors for nude modeling - your Model One place or other modeling links might give the wrong impression to some.
Just a thought, as always, I could be completely wrong ;)
01/06/2006 08:43:09 PM · #16
thanks for the feedback on my site, it's nice to have the outside view. I have posted my card, for the time I believe it provides an overall concept of my buisness. I have thought about having special cards for the occasion but until I do my first wedding this will have to do. Plus I have over one thousand to hand out!

I would love to know more about business (taxes), advertising, contracts, etc.

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01/06/2006 11:52:45 PM · #17
Why did you (and so many other) black out the phone number? I;m being serious, why? This boggles my mind.
Afraid of calls? Isn't that the purpose of the card?
No phone number on your website either?
The harder it is to contact you, the more likley the client will call someone else.

As an aside, my phone number is on my website, posted here on my card, and other places too (craigslist, wedj.com and more). No prank phone calls. No customer calls either...
01/07/2006 04:19:01 PM · #18
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Why did you (and so many other) black out the phone number? I;m being serious, why? This boggles my mind.
Afraid of calls? Isn't that the purpose of the card?
No phone number on your website either?
The harder it is to contact you, the more likley the client will call someone else.

As an aside, my phone number is on my website, posted here on my card, and other places too (craigslist, wedj.com and more). No prank phone calls. No customer calls either...

I tend to agree. At some point you have to decide if you have become a pulic entity or not. If you are a businessman/woman, you have decided to make yourself public, and hiding that information makes people trust you less. Such as when you go to some site ot buy gear and they do not provide their location or direct phone number.

BTW - I have updated my site, but I'm currently unhappy with it. Any suggestions or help at this point would be welcome. There is now a galler section. I like the flash, and the layout, but not the sounds. I want to keep the galleries flash to dissuade random people or clients from downloading pictures. If anyone has a good way to set up password protected galleries, I would love that info. I think we may go to SmugMug eventually, but for now that will have to do.

Thanks for the offer of knowledge in bussiness ed. Chris, that will be some very important stuff for all of us. Maybe Matt &Others can give you info that you didn't know, and vice versa.

Message edited by author 2006-01-07 16:19:39.
01/07/2006 05:08:56 PM · #19
I have no big secrets, my phone number will be on my website when I get that far, I'm just uncomfortable posting it in a forum.

I know many of us are working on improving our websites - me too. I've done a little research and came across bigblackbag.com. I signed up for a free 7 day trial and its very easy to use, a variety of file types are supported (including flash) and I like the look of it. I haven't decided yet if I will sign up, I'm still playing with it. But I really like what I've come up with so far. Its a little expensive $200/year and the max disk space is only 50MB (more can be purchased). But I figure if I get one extra sitting from it, its payed for. I plan to use it primarily as a marketing tool and not for client proofing (although its an option) so the limited space shouldn't be a problem. Has anyone heard of it or know of someone who uses it for their website?

You can see what I've come up with so far here.

Message edited by author 2006-01-07 17:41:13.
01/08/2006 01:03:08 AM · #20
Originally posted by wavelength:

I like the flash, and the layout, but not the sounds. I want to keep the galleries flash to dissuade random people or clients from downloading pictures. If anyone has a good way to set up password protected galleries, I would love that info. I think we may go to SmugMug eventually, but for now that will have to do.

Umm, flash does not protect the images...
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I'll delete these in a day or so, just to show that flash is not as safe as everyone seems to think. Get it on the screen, do a shift printscreen, open PS, new doc, paste it, and there you go - not crop out the image and you have what was on your screen in the flash presentation. To me that is no different than right clicking and saving the image as a 640x400 (or whatever) jpg. Water marking may be better...but i rarely see that in a portfolio, often in client preview area though. I could get decent 5x7s from those captures. Maybe even 8x10s...i'll have to try one of my images sometime out of curiosity.

Nice images BTW.

As to web site design. Go look at other sites (search theknot.com for LOTS of them) and see what you like and don't like.

My question: some sites have 20 wedding shots, random it seems. (probably the best of the best). Others have more indepth of one or 2 (or more) weddings. I have the latter (not done that many weddings...)
Which is better do you think? From a customer's perspective, and yes i know each customer will have their own preferences.
01/09/2006 12:45:49 AM · #21
As an aside, I was out today on a GTG and one nice fellow, Roy, has been a pro since 1979 and took us back to his studio for a tour. He shoots advertising and architecture, with the occasional portrait or even landscapes (for fun). His first digital camera cost him $13,000 -used. Two days later he got a job shooting for Bayer only because he could do it digitally. He has some NICE printers - how would you like a 44x92 INCH print?? He also showed us some 20x30 prints from a 1Ds. NICE! Someday perhaps we'll all have 16mp cameras!
The best news is - he is not bored after 27 years, work is still fun for him, and he looks to be doing well financially - so there is hope for us!
01/10/2006 11:40:33 AM · #22
Important update


I was scouring the web for solutions to some of your problems and found this:


There is a calendar, contact management system, project and task organizer, etc - it's really huge. It's FREE and it's open source. If you have a website host that allows it, THIS IS what you want. This stuff looks GREAT. Login to the demo and you'll see what I mean. That takes care of SO many issues at once that I have to have to recommend it highly.

If you don't have a webhost yet for your domain, consider powweb.com as they allow LOTS of cool add-ons and actually help you set it up. You could set netproject up in about 10 mins on Powweb. Not sure bout other hosts...

01/10/2006 11:49:48 AM · #23
Thanks for the link, Mav. Their site is dawgugly!!! ..... but I'll give it a looksee.

Message edited by author 2006-01-10 11:50:05.
01/10/2006 12:22:35 PM · #24
Hey folks. I haven't visited the thread for a few days now. Work & business has intervened. I'm picking up more work doing events lately and scheduling for weddings this year. My goal is to spend one day a week in this thread for a few hours to take in what people have shared with me (thanks for the suggestions and comments) and give my viewpoint.

Right now I have a need to find a printer. I need to print 8.5" x 5.5" postcard type marketing material that is on moderately heavy cardstock. I've tried Kinkos and cannot express how loathe I am to use them for their abyssmal service in our area (not to mention that the closest cardstock/paper they have would cost me $0.75 per half-sheet + the cut). Does anyone have a lead on an agency that can print 1000 of these (500 double printed on a page & then cut). Its a full bleed so my local Staples can't do it. I've purchased 110# cardstock & printed it myself but the stock still begins to curl with the weight/saturation of the ink and their durability is suspect given that I'll be mailing these.

A question about how does everyone handle proofing:
Do you print proofs; if so do you allow the customer to have them as part of their purchase price or do you require the proofs to be returned to you before you deliver the final prints? If you proof them electronically or via projection how long do you find you spend per customer/session? How many sessions do you spend with your client before you have money in hand for prints?

Thanks again all,

01/10/2006 12:31:15 PM · #25
Originally posted by KevinRiggs:

Right now I have a need to find a printer. I need to print 8.5" x 5.5" postcard type marketing material that is on moderately heavy cardstock. Does anyone have a lead on an agency that can print 1000 of these (500 double printed on a page & then cut). Its a full bleed so my local Staples can't do it.

GotPrint has postcards in 8.5x5.5" many different options here: //gotprint.net/gotprint/showStaticPage.do?page=postcards_pricing.html

Their stuff is extremely nice and well-done. I recommend them for sure.

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