Turn Slow Season into Grow Season with a Wall Art Contest!

Learn how to use a contest to get new clients, make some money and build your brand.

Busy season went out with a bang and now we're dropped headfirst into our slow season.

But it's not the time to sit back and relax (ok, maybe a little...), now's the time to grow your business while you have a little breathing room.

This post will show you how to create a contest on your blog that will:

  • Get your clients talking about you to their friends
  • Draw new traffic to your blog
  • Set an expectation with potential clients that people come to you for wall art
  • Open a door to sell wall art to your past clients
  • Make you look good. =)

What are we doing?

We're going to set up a contest on your blog for your favorite sessions from the past year. They'll be helping you choose your next "studio sample" gallery.

Like this...

Here's the quick summary of what you'll do. Don't worry, we'll break it down piece by piece in just a second:

  1. Create an album in Swift Galleries for each included client
  2. Create at least 1 suggested gallery for each included client
  3. Export each gallery to your computer, straight from Swift Galleries
  4. Create a blog post to show off all of your gallery designs
  5. Send an email out to all included clients to get them to send their friends and family to your blog to vote on their gallery
  6. Make some money!

Sound good? Great, let's do it!

Step 0: Sign up for a monthly Swift Galleries membership (if you're not already a member)

Kind of a cheater step here, that's why it's Step 0. If you don't already have a Swift Galleries account, click here to get started for just $24. You can cancel anytime.

Step 1: Create a Swift Galleries album for 5-10 of your favorite sessions from the past year

Go through your sessions from the past year and choose at least 5 of your favorite sessions. You can choose as many as you want, really, but I'd suggest at least 5. The main point is, one of these sessions will become a studio sample for you - so make sure you'd be happy with any of them being the "winner".

From here, you have two options - create a different album in Swift Galleries for each client from last year, or create one Swift Galleries mega-album with all of your favorite images from every client last year. How's about some pros and cons?

Create a separate album for each client:

  • Pro: you can sell to them when you're done
  • Con: it'll take longer

Create the mega-album of all of last years' clients you want to include:

  • Pro: it's faster than creating separate albums
  • Con: You won't want to send everyone to the same album to try to hunt down their gallery out of dozens to be able to buy it from you.
  • Con: It'll load much slower with that many images in one album and that will make you sad.

I don't know about you but this time of year I have more time than money, so I'd choose to go the route that makes me more money. It's slow season, after all.

So let's create an album for each client. Not sure how to do that? Here's a quick run through:


For the album expiration date, set something 3-5-ish days after you want your contest to end. We'll talk about why in just a minute. Just trust me on this one, mmkay?

Step 2: Create 1 suggested gallery design per client

Awesome, you've got your album created for each client, now it's time to jump in there and design something for them to vote on! Not sure how to design a gallery in Swift Galleries? I've got your back right here:


Step 3: Export each gallery design to your computer

Sweet, we've got at least one suggestion saved for each client, now let's get those out of Swift Galleries so you can drop them into your blog. This is simple stuff here...

Click on the Share Button

Then on the Download Button

This will download the active gallery to your computer. You may want to jump into your downloads folder right now and rename the file so it's easier to keep them organized when it's time to upload them to your blog.

Pro Tip: Include your city name in your images' file names and get a little more SEO juice out of your post. I'd go with something like Colorado-Springs-Portraits_0024.jpg, but you're free to do whatever you want, I won't judge you.

Step 4: Create a blog post with every gallery

Create the Post

You're kinda on your own here. Create a blog post in whatever way you normally create blog posts. Do your thing, I'll catch back up with you in a second. Ready...? Break!

Number or Name the Galleries

Blog post all created and whatnot? Wow, you're quick! Be sure to put a name or a number over each post so you can say something like "vote for your favorite gallery design by mentioning the gallery name/number in the comments!". We just want a way for people to specify which one they're voting for.

Offer a Prize

Don't forget to offer a prize to the winning client!

I'm important: Don't offer the wall art as your prize. You want them to buy that, not hope they win it! Instead, offer something like dinner out at a nice local restaurant.

So... "dinner and a movie"? Yes! "Win your wall art gallery!" Nope. Got it? Great, let's move on...

Don't Forget a Call to Action and a Deadline!

This one seems like a no brainer, but so many people don't do this...

Make sure you add what's called a Call to Action. Basically, tell them what you want them to do. (Want to see a Call to Action in... well... action? Check out the bottom of this post...)

Also, be sure to set a deadline on your contest.

Here's a little snippet that could work:

"So, which one should we get as our studio sample? We're letting you decide! Vote for your favorite gallery by leaving its name in the comments. The gallery with the most votes will adorn our walls! Even better, the family/couple/client in the winning gallery will also win [insert your prize here]! You have until [Insert contest ending date here] to place your vote!"

Got that? Awesome...

Now hit publish!

Quick Wins for a print-selling website

Fill your calendar with clients who want your photos in their homes.

Apply these 5-minute tweaks to your website to:
Attract clients who want more than the digital files
Use social media to encourage print sales
Get current clients excited for printed products
Finally do "show it to sell it" the RIGHT way
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Step 5: Send an email to every included client

No use in doing all this work if you don't actually get some eyeballs on it, right?

So let's shoot an email out to every client included in the contest.

You could say something like this:

"Hey there [Client First Name]!

It's that time of year where we decide how we want to best show off our photos for the year and we're doing something a little different this time. We're holding a contest to decide our next studio wall art sample - and your family made it in!

We're giving away [your prize here] to the family whose gallery gets the most votes and that gallery will be our next studio sample!

Just send your friends and family over to [insert link to your blog post] and tell them to mention your gallery in the comments. The gallery with the most votes, wins!

The contest ends on [end date], so send your friends now to get an early lead!"

Follow up with your clients again in an email a day or two before the contest ends to get a nice little boost of votes and views right at the end. If you really want to kick it up a notch, throw in a surprise bonus a week or so out for the winner and email your clients to tell them about the bonus. That could be a mini session or something for the following year. Up to you.

Step 6: Make some money!

Ok, so your contest has ended and you've let the winning client know they're awesome and they won... now what?

Remember how we set the album expiration dates for 3-5-ish days after the contest ends?

It's time to make some money.

Make Them An Offer They Can't Refuse

Go into Account Settings, then Online Order Discounts and apply a discount of whatever percentage you're comfortable with to online orders placed within 1 or 2 days of the client being invited to the album. Feel free to set a quantity discount, as well, if you'd like

Now Create an Online Sales Opportunity for Each Client


Go into each album and set up an Online Sales Opportunity (this looks a little bit different in the video than it does now in the app, but the process is still exactly the same).

In the subject line, make it clear that they now have a (very short) opportunity to purchase the gallery they saw in the contest.

Something like "2 Days Only! Save [XX%] on the Gallery You Voted on in our Contest!"

Then give them the link and make it clear in the email that they only have a very short window to place their order and get a discount. You can use this email content, if you'd like:

"Hi {Client Name},Our contest has ended, but you still have a chance to feel like a winner!For the next 3 days only, you can save up to 25% on the gallery you saw in the contest.Just click the button below to get your hands on your gallery.

{Link Button}

Let me know if you have any questions!

All the best,{My First Name}{My Studio Name}{My Email Address}

PS - Your gallery will expire in {Days To Expire}, so jump in there now and save on this beautiful wall art gallery! Here's the link, in case the button above doesn't work: {Album Link}"

The only things you'll want to change in that email are the number of days they have to get the discount and the percentage they'll save with that discount (based on what you set for the previous step, when we set the online sales discount). You can leave all of the stuff in brackets in there as it is, Swift Galleries will automatically drop your information in where those brackets are.

Pro Tip: Create a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is fancy-talk for "something someone will give you their email address to get".

Your clients' friends might be willing to give you their email address in exchange for a short PDF of your favorite "secret" photo locations in your city or a "Top 10 Tips for Getting Great Photos of Your Kids". Anything they'd be interested in that's related to your business. 

Including a link to a lead magnet in your blog post will give you the opportunity to capture the email addresses of your clients' friends and family who come to vote on a gallery.

And having their email address gives you the chance to email them when your booking season starts. 

Setting this up is quite a bit outside of the scope of this blog post, but click here to let me know you're interested and I'll send you a step-by-step guide as soon as I have one ready (see what I did there? You just got Lead Magnet-ed!).

You're done, do a happy dance!

So there you go, you've set up a contest on your blog that will help you make some money, while also getting your clients to tell all of their friends about you! This is the kind of thing their friends will remember when it's time for them to start looking for a photographer! 

Questions? Let me know in the comments!

PS - Looking for even more ways to build your business and bring in new clients? Check out this awesome post from our friends over at ShootDotEdit, "27 Ways to Increase Bookings for Next Year"!