Groupon – Is it good for photographers?

What is Groupon or the clones?

Groupon if you haven’t been to the site or haven’t heard, is a site which promotes businesses in your local area/cities with advertising to millions or potential customers. They team up with businesses to offer customers extremely discounted deals.

For example…Groupon example

There are a number of clones out there now, Doozy of a Deal, Deal Chicken, Enamor …etc.  In the past five months I’ve been approached by four different clones asking me to put together a photography package to advertise with them.  The first time I was approached I was really excited to get our name out there and gave it some serious thought.

How it works.

The company who is advertising asks you to put together a package to offer to the masses. For their efforts in advertising your business/product they take 50% to 60% of each package or product sold.  They run the offer for a set period of time and some sites like Groupon have a minimum purchase number in place for the sale to happen. As you see in the example above, the frame shop had a number in place…say 50 deals… before the deal would happen. They went over “50” and now the deal is going to happen.  The customer wins, the business gets increased sales and advertising and sites like Groupon make 50/60% of what the deal was going for.

Most recent request I had…the conversation.

Hi! I work with “XXXXX”, locally owned and operated. We are an online editorial that features the trendiest businesses in the area. I am interested in talking to you about running a promotion with you. There is no cost and you will be featured for 48 hours on our site. You can learn more at “XXXXXX” and the attached media kit.

We Promise:
• No Long-Term Contracts
• Generous Revenue Sharing (10% more than other sites)
• Social Media is used to share the deal, you will be Tweeted about and shared on our Facebook page.
• Highly-Targeted List of Unique Affluent Subscribers
• Pay Nothing Up Front
• “XXXX” does not include an exclusivity agreement. You are free to advertise with anyone you wish.

I’d love to talk with you. Simply reply to this email. Or you can call me at: XXX-XXX-XXXX.

My reply:  I simply asked what they had in mind for a promotion.  I knew from dealing with a few other sites like this…. they were going to ask a lot … for a low price to push the sales.

Response: Hey Frank,
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!  We’re looking for a session around $139 to include a session, 3 outfit changes and either 2 8X10’s and a secure online gallery or 5 Facebook size electronic photos and an online gallery.  If possible it’d be great to include hair & makeup.

Let me know what you think.  We’re flexible and are looking to run the special right away!



My reply: Hi “XXXX”

I need to look at your media kit first.  Hair and makeup are not possible,  I pay my MUA $100 per client. …and up to $400 for the day.
I do not have a studio, we do all of our sessions on location or in the clients homes.  I bring the studio to them.  I’m not concerned about the 8×10’s.. .that’s easy.  We provide free Facebook/web images with every photo the client purchases. Not a problem….   outfits… no restrictions.. as many as they can fit in to an hour.  I provide all my clients an online gallery where they can send the links out to family members who might want to purchase additional prints after the initial proofing session

Just need to have a look at your media kit and what your fee is for promoting us.   ****Keep in mind… no cost to me and we will be featured for 48 hours****


Response: There is no fee to be featured.  We typically do a 50/50 split however since you haven’t worked with us we’ll offer 60/40.  You’ll love working with us and want to do another promotion, (of course!), so this intro offer will be good for the first promotion.

Did I answer all of your questions?

Reply: I will have a look and get back to you shortly…I need to talk this over with my partner Kristy.

I forgot to ask…  did you contact me through Frank Hatcher Photography This makes a huge difference in what services we can offer.


Response: We are looking for a Boudoir session.  You can use either company name.  We’re also looking for a pet photography session.  So, if you are anyone you know is interested feel free to pass my info along.

Reply: I can’t pull off a boudoir session in an hour…I need at a minimum 2-3 for a quality session. One that is up to our standards and it  would have to  include professional makeup and hair….

Response: That’s no problem.  We didn’t expect it to last less then a few hours.  What is the best deal you could put together?  You don’t have to offer as many photos.  We’re looking for an online gallery along with a few either photos or digital prints.  This also gives you the ability to up-sell them.

The breakdown.

I ended the conversation as I from my viewpoint I couldn’t see how this was going to benefit the business.   $139 for a few hour boudoir session with prints, hair and makeup…remember they take 40% of all sold packages.

$139 – 40%  = $83.40 to the business – 8% taxes – a few 8×10’s say ($10) -travel time to and from the clients house – gas- up to 3 hours shooting – makeup artist – 1-2  hours post work.

But… what if we sold 100-200 sessions? That’s $8-16K after their cut but before all the expenses I listed above… in business… not to mention the possibilities of up-selling to the customer and the advertising to the masses.

My conclusion.

This wasn’t something which would work for us.  I do believe we would work our behinds off with no real profit and the advertising company/ client would be the winners here. Would I gain future customers from word of mouth.. the possibilities are there. But that’s a really big unknown.

The questions.

The questions I have for all of you…

1. Do you think sites like these are a viable way to generate income for your photography business?  If so, how?

2. Do you have to go in to this with the mindset  you might not  make any profit, but, on the flip side of things,  you will gain tons of exposure which could lead to future clients.

3. Have you advertised on sites like these and what were your thoughts about the experience?

4. Does cheap packages/sessions/discounts attract cheap clients?

I’d love to hear what you all have to say, please comment below.  Let’s get the discussions rolling.

About the Author
Frank Hatcher | Professional photographer based out of Phoenix Arizona.