Episode 91: Here’s What Happened When a 15-Year Veteran Photographer Stopped Selling Digital Files

What Happened When a 15-Year Veteran Photographer Stopped Selling Digital Files


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

One of my favorite things to do is share stories of what my students have overcome and their wins to inspire you to keep going.

Today you’ll meet Lindsey Linhoff, a working photographer of 15 years who had always offered her clients digital files, until October when she decided to go all in on the boutique model.

Within a few short weeks, she had 12 bookings and a $5,000 order.

I know the thought of ditching the digitals can be scary, especially when you have clients you’ve worked with for years who are used to getting them.

So I want you to hear what happened to Lindsey when she became a boutique photography business.

Discovering That Digital Files Are NOT Sustainable

Sarah Petty:

Lindsay, you were 15 years of being a shoot and burn photographer, but you were also working.

Talk a little bit about what your life looked like in those 15 years.

Lindsey Linhoff:

I actually went to college for two years to study photography and then it just never really took off to where I didn’t have to have a job.

So, I always used it to supplement when I would have a huge bill coming up.

I decided that I didn’t want it to be my secondary anymore.

I work a 40-hour week for a city and I love my job.

I like the people I work with, but there’s no creativity to it.

But the clients that I’ve been working with since I started working with Sarah have been so much better.

They’re more fun and they’re enriching my life now.

Sarah Petty:

What were you charging and how many digital files did people get when you were shoot-and-burn?

Lindsey Linhoff:

Generally, I would charge $250 and they’d get 12-15 images.

My specialty is fairies and unicorns so the work is on the front end to make the dresses, acquire the props, get the unicorn and get everybody together.

$250 wasn’t working.

That’s what really pushed me over the edge and I realized this wasn’t sustainable.

My clients would ask what they would get for $250 and I would say that I’m exclusively digital because that’s what people are looking for these days.

I’d offer to make prints for them if they wanted, but why would they, if they have the file?

Sarah Petty:

And the sad thing is, when we go from the client’s perspective, you did this beautiful work and they probably have it in a drawer somewhere.

Doesn’t that make you mad?

How did you find us?

How did you find out about the boutique model?

Lindsey Linhoff:

I had done Google searches for easy marketing ideas for photographers and your videos would pop up.

So I kind of recognized who you were, but then I saw your 5-day challenge.

It was free so I thought why not.

And during the challenge, I feel like my brain literally turned inside of my head, because what you were teaching made a lot of sense.

With that understanding, I realized that I could be successful at it.

Sarah Petty:

So you did the challenge and then you had the opportunity to do a class.

And you jumped in, to Boutique Breakthrough back in October.

Was that scary?

Realizing The Boutique Way Is The Way To Success

Lindsey Linhoff:

I really wasn’t scared because I enjoyed the 5-day challenge so much.

I had very little hesitation and I just went into it.

I told my husband that you were living my dream.

And if what I was doing up to this point was working, I wouldn’t be here.

What you’re doing, Sarah, is working and why would I not want to be doing that?

Separating Your Photography Business From The Rest

Sarah Petty:

On day two of the Boutique Breakthrough, we went in and we talked about your what and your why.

Was that hard for you to talk to your clients about?

Because you have a very specific niche, fairies and unicorns, that separates you from everyone.

Lindsey Linhoff:

Yeah, it was.

Because I’ve never personally been into writing things down and getting into the what and the why.

I didn’t understand it because I thought my reason for taking pictures was because I enjoy it.

What more do you need to know?

But being pushed to go in depth and answer that question makes you realize that there’s a lot more to it than just enjoying taking pictures and having people pay you.

And then, the realization and the belief comes in and talking to people about it made me feel really prideful.

Sarah Petty:

What happened on day 3 of the workshop for you, pricing day?

We laid out what boutique pricing looks like and what it looks like to be profitable.

And it’s pretty heavy.

Lindsey Linhoff:

I remember filling in the pricing template with the examples that you were giving.

And I’d type it in and think it was funny, but I did it because you told me to.

But then by the end, I actually went in and raised the prices more because it wasn’t enough.

It was really meaty because there’s a lot to it,  but it is the most satisfying part of it, too.

There is something about seeing your work in print with this big price tag behind it and it makes you feel like you are worth it.

And I was really excited because I ordered some samples of my own work.

But it was so cool because it was a big canvas to take to presentations.

It is the coolest thing to see clients’ eyes always get really big when they are loving the sample.

Sarah Petty:

Your sample has to be big.

So you ordered the price list and when the price list came and you opened the box how did you feel?

Feeling Validated As A Boutique Photographer

Lindsey Linhoff:

I looked at it and I was like, “Dang, that came out of me?”

This is kind of the first time in my photographic career where I’ve actually looked at my own stuff and been surprised that I made it.

And it’s the coolest thing.

Sarah Petty:

So then the next thing, before we sent you out to go get a client, we taught you how to talk to your clients.

So, step four is the first phone call.

We break it down into seven B’s where you go through the order you say things.

How hard was that?

Lindsey Linhoff:

It was hard in the very beginning, because to that point, I had pretty much exclusively booked people through Facebook and messaging.

So I wouldn’t even really talk to people until they got to the shoot.

But I find that once you get the clients talking, it leads the conversation.

And if you’re an introvert like me, it’s easy for us to listen.

It helped to know what I was going to say next, so I didn’t feel like I would be stuck as soon as they’re done with their sentence.

Sarah Petty:

Next we gave you four different marketing activities to go out and do, because marketing makes the phone ring.

So you went out and generated.

How many leads did you generate to touch and practice these seven B’s with?

Lindsey Linhoff:

I got 56 messages in two days and booked 12 sessions using the seven B’s.

Sarah Petty:

You get more confidence in talking about what you do to get the right clients.

So then you book these people, you meet with them and you do the needs analysis.

There are seven things that happen there so that you can shoot to sell.

Was that whole concept of finding out what they’re going to buy ahead of time and then just shooting it help you?

Lindsey Linhoff:

Yes, that helps tremendously.

For me, I work really fast.

I like to shoot with purpose.

So knowing, specifically, what I’m going to present to them later, it helps a lot.

Learning How To Master The Sales Presentation

Sarah Petty:

Next you built the presentation.

You sat with them and held their hands and served your clients at a really high level.

How did that go?

Lindsey Linhoff:

I was a little bit nervous, but by the time we got to the sales presentation, I had already met them a couple of times.

So they were not strangers anymore.

And it helped a lot that the shoot was really fun, so it left everybody feeling really good and having a good time.

Sarah Petty:


And they know your prices.

So you weren’t going in there scared.

I find that the presentation is my favorite part.

I get to present this beautiful artwork to my clients.

It’s so exciting.

Lindsey Linhoff:

Yeah. I wasn’t secretive about what I was charging.

That’s what’s so nice.

It’s the confidence in my own pricing.

There’s a reason that I’m charging this, and by then I’ve already communicated that to them.

Sarah Petty:

And they’re excited.

So then when you start taking the order and you’re adding it up and you realize it’s more than $250, how are you feeling?

Lindsey Linhoff:

I still kind of had disbelief because I couldn’t believe this was working.

It was crazy.

But, I just kept working.

And I still feel that way, like, I can’t believe it’s working.

Finally Making A Profit As A Boutique Photographer

Sarah Petty:

That’s so cool.

And then you can help them pick their artwork, you’re holding their hand, you’re serving them, and they’re happy.

You had 12 clients who came in.

Most were over a $1,000 order.

Lindsey Linhoff:


I made about $8,000 off of the first marketing strategy I implemented.

Sarah Petty:

How crazy is that?

And really our goal is that you get one client, so you can go through the whole system and feel what it feels like and get that one $1,000 order.

Because once you did it once, weren’t you so much more motivated for the next?

Lindsey Linhoff:


You get this momentum and you want to keep doing it.

So I did the marketing strategy, one time and I made the money and then I did it again for newborns specifically.

And that’s taking me through January and February, because people are having their babies now.

So this marketing strategy that I put in place two months ago is bringing actual revenue at a time when photography really doesn’t do much right now.

Sarah Petty:


I love it.

It sounds almost too good to be true.

What do you say to someone who’s listening to your story and it sounds too good to be true for them?

Lindsey Linhoff:


I was on that side when I was doing the 5 day challenge and thought it was too good to be true for me, too.

But I’m here now and I’m continuing with your program and there’s a reason for that.

And I love it.

I am all-in Sarah Petty.

Sarah Petty:

I hope Lindsey’s story showed you what’s possible when you ditch the digitals and go all-in on Boutique.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had clients for years or you’re just getting started from the ground up in the Boutique Photography Model.

There’s no better way to have meaning and impact as a photographer while putting your family first.

Come join me and I will show you just how you can change not only your business, but your life.

follow boutique photographer sarah petty on instagram to learn more about the boutique photography timeline

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