Welcome Gifts for photographers – where do you start?

Client Experience

April 26, 2022

I believe in a slower, simpler approach to doing business. One rooted in intention, meaning & purpose, where you find that beautiful (yet often seemingly elusive) balance between deeply supporting your clients, honouring your creativity, and reclaiming your time, energy and heart.
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Image of a linen binder designed for a photography workshop and given as a welcome gift for newborn photographers.
Packaging designed for Suzi Bird Photography – Image By Jade Alana Photography

So often I get asked for ideas on what is the perfect welcome gift for photographers – and should photographers include a welcome gift as a way to enhance their client experience?

And while that is true, it’s always important to zoom out and look at your overall client journey and the service that you provide. 

Your welcome gift, welcome guide are all part of your Client On-boarding process as a photographer (or as I like to call it your welcome ritual). It’s how you help your clients feel supported, valued and let them know what to expect when working with you. It’s the perfect time to show your appreciation, explain your process, gather information and make your client feel settled, knowing that they made the right decision when deciding to work with you!

Instead of worrying about sending your clients a random candle or something with your brand haphazardly slapped on, really start to think about the experience you would like to create for your clients at this stage of their client journey. The on-boarding process should feel welcoming, nurturing & supportive. I try to advise all my photography clients to think of your onboarding as a welcome ritual -something that can be beneficial for you and for your client.

What is the main feeling or emotion you would like to evoke at this stage of the client journey?

Image of a Kraft shipping box containing a welcome gift for photographers
Packaging designed for Pierra G Photography – Image By Jade Alana Photography

As with everything, you need to be really clear on the type of feeling & emotion you are trying to create. Always keep in mind your brand purpose & values, as these will help you think of ideas that will actually add value to your service. 

If for example, you are an elopement photographer and your purpose is to make your clients feel that their elopement planning worries will be taken care of, that they can sit back and enjoy their elopement without feeling frazzled about all the decisions, emails and overwhelm that come from planning a big wedding? Then a notebook might not be the best gift to send your client (as this might feel that they need to take lots of notes, in case they forget things and to keep them on track). This goes against the feeling you are trying to create. Instead you could send a journal, where they could document all the wonderful moments leading up to their elopement.

You could add a note reminding them that you will guide them throughout the process of planning their elopement and take care of all the details (like the location, celebrant etc) – and that their main job is to feel relaxed and enjoy the moment.

As with all gifting, the intention and meaning behind the gift is much more important than the actual gift itself.

Before trying to source the perfect welcome gift for photographers- decide what is the aim or intention during your client on-boarding process?

Image of a travel itinerary for an elopement photographer showing that you don't need a welcome gift
Client Experience created for Lynne Kennedy Photography

This goes hand in hand with the feeling or emotion you are trying to create, but this part of the process has more to do with you and your intentions. Do you want to help establish healthy boundaries, educate your clients on your process and what they can expect from you or gather information from them. 

This will all impact your welcome ritual, and how you can create a welcome ritual that is beneficial to you and your clients.

Going back to my previous example, if the intention behind your welcome ritual is to establish healthy boundaries & educate your clients then you need to think of ways you can do this, while keeping in alignment with the feeling you are trying to create. If you are a elopement photographer, chances are your couple might get overwhelmed with the details or organisation might not be their strength, so you could create a Notion Client Portal with a list of recommended celebrants, florists and locations. You could help them plan their itinerary, give them a packing list of what to pack depending on the season they are eloping or your fave local eateries in the area they will be staying.

You could record a personalised welcome video, showing them how the portal works, and that this is your preferred method of communication. You can set their minds at ease by saying that they don’t have to do anything for now (other than enjoying the first few weeks of starting their elopement journey), and that you will keep them up to date on how your process is structured and if and when you need their input.

How does a photographer welcome gift fit in with the rest of your client journey & client experience strategy?

Packaging designed for Everwood Films– Image By Jade Alana Photography

Be mindful to break your client journey into a few phases and think of the welcome ritual as part of a greater whole. How does this support them in the rest of their client journey, is this the right time to be sending a gift or is there perhaps a better time that you could have a tangible brand touchpoint (for example their final delivery)?

Perhaps showering them with a lavish welcome gift is not the best use of your CLIENT EXPERIENCE BUDGET. Maybe a small handwritten note would suffice and you decide that you would rather surprise them with a luxurious candle that they could burn in the few nights leading up to their elopement. You could include a card reminding them to take a moment and soak up all the love and joy of the few days leading up to their special day. This also helps you have a relaxed couple, who aren’t going to be checking in with you every five minutes because they trust you have thought of everything!

What stage of business are you at?

This is so important because you need to remember that we all start somewhere in our business journey. Just because you might not have the budget for tangible elements in your client experience strategy doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact. With a lot of creative thinking you can still create an amazing experience for your clients. Your main aim is to make your clients feel seen, valued and appreciated. This is how you grow and increase the value you are able to offer your clients.

Something as simple as an email the night before their elopement, giving them tips on how to get a good night’s rest can make all the difference. 

BUT equally as important, if you are charging for a high touch service, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are delivering a high touch experience.

And lastly, what is your budget, and is a photographer welcome gift the most effective use of your client experience budget?

It’s the part that none of us like to talk about, but it’s really important to the health of your business. Make sure that everything you are including in your client experience is worked into your pricing structure.

As you can see, there is a lot more to it than Googling “welcome gift for photographers” – it’s all part of a bigger whole and an opportunity to add value along the way.

The best way to enhance your photography brand and make your service stand out is to create a repeatable Client Experience Strategy (not just gifting). This is something I help photographers create on a Co-Creation day. Creating brand touch points and forging a signature process to generously serve your clients with your knowledge & expertise in a way that conserves your energy. Get in touch to find out more about creating a referral worthy Client Experience Strategy.

If this really resonates with you and you want to find out more – head on over to see how we can work together. Or sign up to my newsletter where I share more tips on how I run a thoughtful & intentional business rooted in slow business values & principles.

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Does sending oFF a client gallery feel a little *meh*?

Why not craft an intentional goodbye ritual (aka off-boarding workflow) that will help you clients look after their images. A process that will help you get more reviews, sell more albums, and help you and your clients feel soooooooo supported. 


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