Why I Switched to Flash Drives Instead of DVDs and Why You Should Too

by Jamie M Swanson

Pexagon Flash Drives for Image Delivery instead of DVDs

It’s all Apple’s fault. No, really.

As a wedding photographer, I give all of my clients the digital images from their wedding day.

I used to deliver these in a beautifully packaged DVD that had a custom image of the couple printed right onto the DVD. It came in a modern metal case, and when wrapped up nicely with a bow it looked awesome. I loved every part of it.

But then Apple decided to release new MacBook Pros without a disc drive in them.

So that cute customized DVD? It’d be useless to any client that has one of the new MacBook Pros.

Just like Apple killed flash websites, they’ve now also made the DVD an outdated way to deliver images to your clients.

Sure, at the moment only a very small percentage of people out there would have this problem, but if you have high-end clients, they are more likely to have one than the general public. And the last thing I want is to come across as outdated or give them something that they can’t even use 2 years from now.

So, I accepted the fact that it is time to move on to a different way of delivering digital images to my clients and started researching. I decided that flash drives were the best way to deliver the images and am really happy with the switch. In fact, I’m so pleased with it that I wish I had done this a few years ago.

Here’s everything you’ll need to know about switching to flash drives for digital image delivery for your clients.

Flash drives are not expensive and do not have to be purchased in bulk

Part of the reason I was resistant to switching to flash drives was because I expected it to be a lot more expensive than it actually is, or that I’d have to buy way more flash drives than I needed in order to make it affordable.

After researching many options, I came across Pexagon Tech. Not only can you customize your flash drive for very little cost, there’s no minimum order. So even if you just need 1 drive, you can still do it at a reasonable price. Awesome.

If you’re a high volume studio that offers digital images to many of your clients, you can get a price break by ordering 200 or more, but that wasn’t something I’d do as I only need about 20-30 of these per year.

Flash drives can strengthen your brand

Flash drives can be customized to match your branding by selecting custom colors and by printing or engraving your logo onto the drive. I didn’t realize how much I would love this until I got them in the mail. We went with a swivel drive, with a yellow base and a silver metal cover that swivels around. Our logo was printed onto the metal cover in white and looks super awesome. I like to add a ribbon to my drive to “finish it off” so to speak.

How to package flash drives for your customers

Custom Branded Swivel Flash Drives from Pexagon Tech

There’s a variety of ways that you can package your flash drives to reinforce your brand and look professional.

Pexagon Tech has a large number of very nice flash drive packaging options, but when I was browsing my local craft store, I found some 3.5″x3.5″ jewelry boxes with padded inserts that I liked that were super cheap. There’s also a lot of other little boxes like this on Amazon if you decide to look there as well.

Pexagon Flash Drive Packaging
I add a piece of yellow fabric that I found on clearance for hardly anything to the padding so it’s a bit more custom to our branding, then I put a yellow ribbon bow (also super cheap if you buy the ribbon on a spool) and it’s complete. I add a customized thank you card (ordered through Zoo Printing) and off it goes.

Other people get engraved wooden flash drives and deliver them in wood boxes. Or you could get a custom proof box from your lab (such as these boxes from ProDPI) and include a few prints with your delivery so that they know what professional prints should look like. There’s a variety of options that you could do depending on your branding and business objectives. I go simple because that’s part of our brand.

What size flash drive should you order?

I went back and looked at several weddings we’ve photographed lately and found that 4GB was generally plenty for us, so I ordered mostly 4GB with just a few 8GB drives for those really long wedding days or times when we covered the wedding and rehearsal dinner. Because the price is the same if you buy 1 or 100, this was not a big deal.

If you give out digital files regularly, go back and look through your archives to determine the best size for you. You’ll save yourself money by not buying larger sizes than you need, and if your amount varies significantly you can always order several different sizes all in the same order. Gotta love having flexibility!

What holds you back from moving to flash drives?

With DVDs now practically outdated, what holds you back from switching to flash drives? What are some other alternatives that you have considered using? Leave a comment below and share! I’d also love to see any images to packaging that you’ve come up with if you’re willing to share that as well. Thanks!

Also, for full disclosure, I make a small commission if you use the links in the post above, so thanks for using them to make your purchases. It helps support the site.

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Jamie M Swanson is a Madison Wedding Photographer with her husband Brandon. She enjoys photography, loves the business side of things, but truly comes alive by helping others grow their own businesses. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Jenika August 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for the post + resource links. I love that bright yellow and your packaging! I’ve been hemming and hawing about DVD vs. thumb drive for awhile. I’ve seriously considered moving to just digital downloads (e.g. I send you a link), but for some reason I can’t bring myself not to give people something tangible. And I think people like getting something tangible, too – it’s an automatic backup in addition to being something to package. And in some states, sending someone a download link means you don’t have to charge sales tax since you’re not giving them a tangible good (haven’t figured this out for my new state yet). Aagh. Anyway, still chewing on this. Thanks for giving me a pretty pretty option! :-D

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thanks Jenika! I like things bright and cheerful, and that’s part of why we chose it for our name and love using the yellow all over. :) It’s my favorite color.

Yeah, we have to charge sales tax whether it’s a digital download or not, and I have enough rural clients with super slow internet that downloading 3+ GB of images would be a true hassle for them (if it was possible at all).

That being said, I use http://www.wetransfer.com to transfer engagement sessions to clients prior to the wedding (and then I add them to the flash drive as well). That’s usually small enough that it doesn’t cause a problem, and wetransfer is free, which I like.

But yeah, for full weddings it’s flash drive all the way for me.

Jenika August 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for the added perspective (hadn’t considered internet speed as a factor!!). I think what you presented here is a great option.

Penelope August 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

This is so helpful! I admit, I was hesitant to let go of CDs as my method of image file delivery, but this has cause me to seriously consider using flash drives. Thanks for the great info!

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

You’re welcome. I waited until I could no longer justify it. I don’t want to be giving outdated media to anyone, and I have a lot of Apple-loving clients. So I made the switch and wish I had done so a few years ago, honestly!

Jennifer Strozewski August 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Love this post….I have just switched to digital downloads (I use smug mug, which creates a web zipped link). Greener (no waste) and instant (no mail delay) and cheaper (no cost, except the smug mug membership.) The disadvantage is no branding and no tangible product.

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm

And if you have rural clients like I do sometimes, downloading 4GB of data is just not practical. That’s the main thing that kept me from going all digital, honestly. I still deliver engagement shoots digitally, but then plan to add them to the flash drive with the wedding photos. That’s not so overwhelming to download.

Tiffany H August 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I have actually been looking into this. I have always had terrible luck with DVD/CD burners and flash drives are a lot less temperature sensitive. I will be getting two per client though, as I keep a copy for myself with the lightroom catalog.

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Why not just get another external drive and keep all of it in one place? Seems like you’d be less likely to lose them if that was the case. Or, instead of buying branded ones for yourself, buy generic ones somewhere else for even less. Just a thought.

Tiffany H August 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I will look into that, but I don’t have much luck with externals either. It’s as though I am cursed.

Mandy August 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm

My concern was that they seem easy to lose. And by that I mean, where are my own USB drives? Including some bigger, permanent packaging makes it seem a bit better and I do warn clients to back up the images they receive on a disc so this would be no different in that sense. And the pricing looks better than I had assumed. Hmm…

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Yeah, they are smaller, but I think people also realize they need to back them up (and I tell them to do that in a pdf I put on the drive with instructions for how to care for their files). I agree on wanting bigger packaging, which is why I went with the square boxes instead of the smaller boxes that I found that were about half the size.

Heather B August 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I love all the helpful info in this article! Really opened my eyes to a lot of frustrations my clients might/may experience. Thanks for that. I would love to hear more about this PDF info you include on the flash drive. Thanks again!

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Can’t share the pdf. Was given to me by a fellow photographer who allows me to use what they wrote but swore me to secrecy about it, sorry. ;)

Andy Mills August 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I guess you could always give your client the option – CD/DVD or USB drive.

I’ve not tried a speed comparison, but writing to a USB memory stick is probably faster, you shouldn’t need to “verify” the write (as you would normally do with CD/DVD), there’s no need for special software like Nero, there’s less chance of the customer’s drive not reading it, less chance of DVD degradation, no need to print on the DVD.

The extra cost of the drive could be, possibly, off-set by time saved (or at least partially).

And many TVs these days have a USB slot (and/or a SD card slot) in them, so you can view the images directly on the TV without the need of a DVD drive.

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Ooh, the TV thing would be super cool! Yes, transferring files to the USB is faster, but still slower than I expected it to be, honestly. But not too bad.

Honestly, if I added up all my ink costs from printing DVDs individually (I did a full photo on each one) I’m not sure that it wasn’t just as expensive. I just didn’t want to know, so I never did the math. ;)

Lisa Scott August 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I ordered the wood ones about 2 weeks ago, can’t wait to see how they turn out!! I’m thrilled to have back the time it takes to create a custom CD each time. I’m still trying to decide on packaging but there are definitely many affordable options. Thanks for writing this post and I’ll be sure to use your link on my next order, thanks for sharing the discount!

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Aw, thanks Lisa! I hope you like them. I was like a giddy school girl when I got mine, way more excited than I expected to be. :)

Victoria Livingston August 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for the post! I appreciate the information you provided. I bought a stack of CDs a while back that were on sale, and I’ve considered going the flash drive route when I’m out of those. It’s always nice to hear directly from someone who’s tried it.

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I’ve still got a good sized stack of printable DVDs around too, but oh well. It was time to move forward.

Nicholas August 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Another great source is Flashbay.com and they deliver outside the US.

Jamie M Swanson August 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Ooh, good to know! Do they require a minimum number of drives be purchased?

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Just found out that Pexagon will ship outside the US with a $200 minimum order as well, so that rocks. :)

Sarah Syhakhoun Photography August 23, 2012 at 5:29 am

Thank you so much for this post! I HATE DVDs with a passion because I would check them on two computers but then would send them out and people would say the DVDs were blank! Thankfully, this only happened when I was second shooting and not with a client, but it is still embarassing and frustrating since they took me forever to burn.

I had been buying flash drives from a local electronic store, but they are not good looking and aren’t branded in any way. I didn’t like that I would have to buy in bulk to get decent prices (or order at all) at other online retailers, especially since I plan on working on my logo in the future.

Thanks so much for passing on Pexagon Tech! I am so excited to get started and not spend any extra money!

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

You’re welcome! Glad to help!

Katy August 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

MacBook Pros actually have a disc drive. It’s just he MacBook Airs that dont.

Chris Aram August 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

The new line up does not:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cracking-open/apples-next-generation-macbook-pro-drops-ethernet-optical-drive/640

And really other computer manufacturers have also been slowly doing away with them for several years now, particularly in the ultra lightweight or portable lineups.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

Yup, Chris nailed it.

Chris Aram August 23, 2012 at 8:08 am

Thanks for the tip, Jamie! It’s a great idea and insightful of you. I think I am gonna order a few of these myself.

Side note: I love Apple products and am a committed fanboy, but their decision to drop the disc drive, 17″ LCD and anti glare choices from the MacBook Pro lineup were very frustrating, to say the least!

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

I know!!!! I love my 17″ MBP with matte screen. But now that I’ve got a separate screen for editing, I suppose I’ll get used to a smaller screen at some point. I’m thinking I’ll hold off until next year before upgrading, though. This one is 3 years old and still treating me very well. :)

Sheri Allison August 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

This may be silly, but the reason I’ve been hesitant to switch to flash drives is simply because they seem less stable and less permanent to me. Is that just me? Is that silly?
$10 for the flash drive is far less expensive than the custom DVD cases I’ve been ordering for each session ($24), so that’s a great option!

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm

People lose discs too, honestly, and I’ve had to deal with that a few times. So I don’t know that they’re any less permanent. Not only that, but most discs only have a 10 year shelf life before degradation anyways, so I don’t think it’s a necessarily a better option, especially if they are going to be obsolete in a few short years for everyone and are already for some of my higher-end clients. :)

Tracy August 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Just this week I delivered my first wedding on USB. Lovely engraved wooden ones. I’m never go back to discs now! I’m saving money and time.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Yes! Exactly. Shocked me how much I loved it. But I’m SO glad I made the change.

Jennifer Capozzola August 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I’m interested in getting your opinion on why a physical drive is even necessary when images can be sent to a client via a transfer site (wetransfer.com). You can even brand these sites for a fee.

Interested in thoughts on this. Thanks so much!
Jen

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Jennifer, I actually use WeTransfer for engagement sessions, but when you’ve got 3+ GB of photos from a wedding it’d be difficult if not impossible for rural clients or small town clients with slow internet to download them, and I want things as easy and convenient as possible for my clients.

Not only that, but people value tangible items more than intangible items, so it’s a way to add value to the images. Plus, it reinforces your brand and can be marketing if they reuse the drive again for other stuff.

Not only that, but people LOVE getting gifts, and we like to package it like a gift, so it’s more good-will they feel towards us when they get it and open it up. You lose that with a digital download.

Hope that helps explain it. I looked into the downloads, for weddings it just didn’t make sense. :)

Jennifer Capozzola August 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Thanks so much for your quick reply Jamie and for your experience with wetransfer. I’m going to look into flashdrives for the reasons you listed above.

Thanks again,
Jen

Maggie August 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Is a flash drive as reliable as a CD though? What if something happens and it loses all the data? Also, it seems too gimicky to me. To me, it has the same image as a “diskette” did in the 90s. I bet people will laugh at flash drives in 20 years.

April August 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

CDs and DVDs are not reliable. If/when they get damaged, the info can’t be recovered. It can with a flash drive.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Yup, April is right on. And you can lose a DVD, which isn’t much different, and a DVD does degrade and can stop working after a few years anyways.

Maggie August 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I’m sorry, but the notion that a CD or DVD “degrades” in a few years is ridiculous. I have CDs that are 20 years old and still work perfectly. Ditto with movies.

keely aka LKP August 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

I’m sorry but I have had discs degrade, and it’s a frustrating experience. And how come no one’s bringing up an obvious disc issue besides degradation? We all hope it doesn’t occur, but people SCRATCHES HAPPEN. Have had clients contact me later asking for another disc because the original (after many uses or many hands) is scratched all to heck & can no longer be read. The USB makes sense.

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

That too. Or lost discs. Sometimes I think we just cling to whatever we can to avoid change – I know I did. :) Change is uncomfortable at best until we embrace it. There’s ups and downs to both sides; we just have to figure out what will work best for you and your clients. I don’t want to be viewed as outdated by anyone ever, but I don’t want to go all digital downloads either, so yeah, flash drives it is for now. And when media changes again, I’ll change too. If you can’t be flexible in business, you’re at a huge disadvantage.

Jennifer September 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Actually flash memory is suppose to be one of the longer lasting ways of holding data. When I am done with my scanning project of all my physical negitives and pictures that have no digital or negitives, I am going to back up everything on to a flash media drive and put it into a fire proof safe in case I lose any of those pictures that won’t be able to be replaced plus my digital pictures as well. I was told that out of all the back up media solid state flash memory should be my best bet. Yes it can go corrupt however most times you can recover as long as it hasn’t been rewritten over. I always rip and back up discs cause I have had numerous times where discs have failed. Plus disc that you burn your self vs. cds and dvds that were done at a professional facility are easier to damage as well because of the way they are made to be able to burn.

Shay August 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now, and plan on using up most of my DVD’s on engagement sessions and other non-wedding shoots. I am super pumped to start using flash drives..but didn’t know where I could get them for a decent price AND get them branded!! :) I’m stoked!! :) THANK YOU!!

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

You’re welcome!

gail August 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Hey:
Great idea, but I have not come across a problem yet using a dvd and for less than 1$ with a great custom label printed on it, included with a colored case, it is more cost effective than a $10 flash drive..I shoot at least 45 sessions during holiday time and the difference of the 2 versions is huge .
will keep it in mind for the future though.

But I do love the packaging and slick way of presenting a flash drive. Hum.
something great to consider going forward.
thanks for the tip and info.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I’d rather charge $10 more to my clients than to give them outdated media. Plus it’s way less work for me.

Jennifer September 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Someone on the thread I was looking at mention that once they give the drive to people they will add future sessions to it for them. Which in the long run could be economical and environmental as well I would think. Something to think about at least.

April August 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm

The beauty of capitalism! Don’t look down on Apple because they are smart and can make lots of money. That’s what makes the USA great! On another note, I only do CDs/DVDs if a client absolutely insists on one. They scratch easily and they run slow. I usually have them download from my proofing site (zenfolio). I tell them to save on a flash drive AND in another location (could be a CD if they want to fool with it). I’ve been longing for the day for CDs to go out. They are terrible!

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Well, that day is now not far away. Lucky for you!

Tacey August 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

When you factor in the price of labels, cases, ink cartridges and DVD’s and not to mention your time customizing, it really is worth it! I think I might bump up my pricing a little to compensate though. And this will solve my problem of my Mac clients, my PC burned DVD’s never work on their computers. Thank you Jamie, brilliant idea! :)

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Your welcome. My thoughts exactly. DVDs cost more than $1 when you add in packaging, printing costs, etc. And people are resistant to change (I was too) so I understand, but at some point they’ll have to. Just like film shooters were mostly forced to go digital. I’d rather embrace early than be a late-adopter.

Charlene Law August 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Love this idea!! I agree with the other comments about putting the image on the disk (via ordering it that way or with dvd ‘stickers’) and then getting the custom photo case, etc. This is such a practical sleek design and when done right it can be fabulous!! I even like the box options that are on their site – such as:
http://www.pexagontech.com/Packaging-Options/Color-Snap-Box.html
The flash and box is still cheaper than the disk and custom case I provide for my clients. I think its a winner!! Technology is always changing and we need to keep up with what’s going to be in use even just 5 years from now. Thanks!! :)

Charlene Law August 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

One more thing – I only give digital images to high paying wedding clients, so spending $20 for their media and corresponding packaging is not a big deal. I only comment again on this because some people have said its too expensive. I guess it depends on what you’re doing it for.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Exactly. And really, you should be selling all the digital images from a portrait session for a lot of money too if you really want to be successful, not just a few hundred dollars. But that’s a different discussion altogether….

Aaron August 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

We have been using hard drives for years. DVD was always a painful as what we offered wasn’t fitting on one. Flash drives were too expensive for big ones, especially with branding options. The only hassle is that HDD that suit us cant be bought anymore as they keep upping the capacity. it would be nice if there was a reliable option like this in Australia.

On pricing though I think you are silly not to move to a better option that could be easily covered by a small increase.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Yeah, I hear it’s hard to find good suppliers in Australia. Bummer. I think FlashBay does it, but you have to order in larger quantities.

Victoria August 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Got mine in Australia from these guys. You have to buy a minimum of 50 though. Also there are two types. Low cost which are good for putting say work documents on for trade shows and then ones for storing high res images. They talked me into the better quality ones which I’m glad they did as it means I can trust them more for my clients now and into the future.

http://www.rbp.net.au/?gclid=CIaPoPXfzLACFYY3pAodywpRVw

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Pexagon contacted me after reading this to let me know that they WILL ship internationally, they just require a $200 minimum purchase. So you CAN use them if you like! :) That’s not that many drives, and is MUCH less than a 200 piece minimum!

Victoria August 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Great post Jamie. I changed over to flash drives engraved like yours a few months ago and my very first client (21st birthday party casino theme evening) had a new Mac Book Pro and so it was perfect for her and great timing by me. It confirmed that I had made the right choice. I have made a small ‘notes’ card that goes with it that instructs that the flash drive be stored safely and not be wiped.

Jamie M Swanson August 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Yup, that’s exactly why I’m doing it. I’m seeing more and more MBPs in coffeeshops these days, even in my small blue-collar town where most people shouldn’t probably be buying such expensive computers. ;)

Ron August 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm

We tend to forget that Macs are so rare (less than 13% of the world computing market in 2011) that being concerned about disc-driveless Macs isn’t worth getting concerned about. Slightly higher Mac numbers in the US but still (at most) only 1 computer in 5 is a Mac there and perhaps 1 in 10 is a MACpro without a drive.

Given the inherent unreliability of USB drives and their high failure rate (compared to discs) being volatile media, I’d be reluctant to provide them to clients for anything important, though I’d look at using them purely as a promotional/brand advertising tool.

Jamie M Swanson August 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

Flash didn’t die in a day, but in 2-3 years Apple effectively killed it. Adobe isn’t even updating or supporting their own Flash software anymore. This doesn’t kill DVDs overnight, but if they are going to be out the door in 2 years, giving them to clients is a disservice to them. And with the ease of downloads for most media and the lack of need for them, I see no good reason why they won’t die. And my clients tend to love Apple and be on the higher-end of the income spectrum, so it’d be foolish of me to think it might not affect anyone yet. Last I checked everything except the ipad still has a USB drive. :) Why risk it?

Stephanie Moon August 24, 2012 at 7:12 am

I used to use Pexagon Tech until I got a couple bad drives. And they handled it very poorly, in one instance sending me a new replacement drive with some other companies logo, and that drive was bad too! I have heard so many other photographers complain about Pexagon and getting bad drives. So this is just a warning to you all. If you keep using them, you WILL get a bad drive. I considered switching companies, but realized they all sell the same junk drives from the same suppliers, all they do is engrave your logo. I think the drives you get at retailers (Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc) are of better quality. They are name brand like Sandisk etc. Perhaps an idea is to get small stickers and put them on that flash drive or a keychain with your logo and attach it to the drive. (many drives have the ability to be put on a keychain). Or there is file sharing software, that is actually the most “modern” way to deliver files. Just my 2 cents.

Jamie M Swanson August 24, 2012 at 8:22 am

Thanks for the warnings, Stephanie. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with them.

Candi Jerkins August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

I recently ordered wood USB flash drives from Pexagon Tech with my logo burned in them! Love them so much! Great article!

Jamie M Swanson August 25, 2012 at 12:32 am

YAY!

Hillary gardner August 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

Love this idea–$10 is much cheaper then the cost of a printed DVD & case from the labs (being about $40 total)
Do you have a way of locking files on the drive o they can’t be erased? That makes me nervous….

Jamie M Swanson August 25, 2012 at 12:34 am

They do offer a drive on their site that does lock the files, but it’s a lot more expensive, and honestly I’m not terribly worried about it. In some ways, as long as they transfer them off (which is likely what they’d do, not erase them completely) but onto something else (hopefully multiple places) I would love it if they’d reuse the drive because it’d be good marketing for me. :) I think most people know how flash drives work so it’s not such a huge problem.

Misty August 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this resource. I’ve been searching for a supplier that didn’t force me to buy a gazillion drives. thanks so much!

Jamie M Swanson August 25, 2012 at 12:35 am

You’re welcome. It’s the only place I found that would do it as well, and as we do weddings I certainly don’t need 75 drives. ;) LOVE that I have no minimum orders with them!

Michael August 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Only problem is clients can accidently erase them. i switched but worry now if I’m every going to get the call asking for another set.

Jamie M Swanson August 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Meh, in my mind it’s not that much different from if they call and have lost their disc.

Sarah! August 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

My only concern is that I’ve already signed contracts stating they’ll get a disc! I’d love to switch over and start even though I have these contracts. perhaps just a quick question to each bride/groom could answer my questions and see if I could transition. I just don’t know how to “sell” their benefits yet so I’ll probably reread your post a little more and then attack the situation!

Jamie M Swanson August 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Yeah, I have the same thing in my contracts, but I’m still delivering a flash drive (and changed that in my contract as soon as I noticed it!!!) and if anyone changes their mind and wants a DVD too, I’ll just send that as well. So far, no one has cared. :)

David Schmaus August 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Our business is wedding video. We started supplying Flash drives with the HD files to our clients in addition to the DVD’S we still have to supply to be watched on their TV. Can’t wait until streaming is mainstream and we can completely eliminate DVD’s Great article. Thank you!

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

You’re welcome. :)

kel August 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

Before I leave my intended comment, I do want to say that I have been looking into this idea and like the idea that I only have to buy one at a time. I appreciate this post… And your packaging is perfect.

This comment is for the other comments that suggest a photographer isn’t charging enough if they think this is expensive:

Everyone keeps talking about $10 not being a lot but in order to have a drive that is comparable in size to a DVD, you would need a 4g (& technically that is still smaller)…which is $13 PLUS tax & s/h. That doesn’t include the box, ribbon, fabric, etc.

My professionally printed DVDs (at Miller’s imaging, with a beautiful image from the session) are $7 with NO s/h, which I place in a simple clear case (MAYBE $.50 each?) & tie with ribbon. A wedding is entirely different, because I charge a couple thousand $, so those go in a beautiful custom case that costs $30.

While yes, this is still a good idea because the world is slowly moving away from DVDs (hard to even imagine) but this is only currently “worth it” if you are doing this for a wedding. But regular session clients pay only a fraction of the fee of a wedding…You’re talking a $20+ delivery option (after adding tax, s/h, and packaging) for a general session that costs $350 or less. A weekday session costs $250, so a flash drive would be close to 10% of my fee. And my prices are mid-high for my area. Not only would this be a poor business expense, but it would be DOUBLE my current delivery option of the custom image-printed DVD.

That being said, the flash drives will eventually be a better option… I just wanted to comment for those who kept saying that “maybe you’re not charging enough if $10 cuts into your profits”. For non-wedding sessions, it DOES cut into profits…but not because I’m not charging enough. Will I likely move to these anyway? Yes for weddings, and yes probably for sessions. But it will be a significant loss per session, percentage-wise. Just something to consider for those who assume the other photog wasn’t charging enough.

Jamie M Swanson August 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

People are saying $10 because with the code above, you get 25% off so a 4GB drive comes to just under $10. :) But if you’re just doing portraits, you could probably get away with a 1-2 GB drive, which is even less money.

But honestly, $350 for a portrait session is really low. If you’re doing in-person sales, I’d wager that you could EASILY double that (or more – I went from averaging around $350 to $1250 immediately just by no longer automatically including my digital images + doing in-person portrait sales). Seriously. There’s WAY more money in portraits than weddings in the end.

kel August 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm

$350 is the session price, not the prices after print orders. However, locally there is not a very good market for high print sales as there are a TON of photographers who all provide DVDs. In our area, it’s what the market wants. People know they have access to quality printing without the upcharge of a photographer. (For example, Millers Professional Imaging has a consumer line called MPix. They literally charge clients the same price as professional photographer clients, with the same level of quality.) There are a handful of photographers who charge more than me, but most are well below. I have a small window of increase and then I would lose clientele.

Sean August 28, 2012 at 9:51 am

I couldn’t agree more with your decision and I love your packaging choices. Not only are DVDs fragile they’re also relatively easy to damage to the point they’re not readable. Aside from those excellent reasons it just shows that your business is initiative and won’t be seen as being too “stale” by a tech savvy customer. :). Well done.

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

Thanks Sean! :)

sean August 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

“Initiative”… This is what happens when you surf on the phone instead of waiting until you get home. It shows your business is INNOVATIVE. =-)

Kate Elliott August 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I’ve been thinking about doing this for years. Finally pulling the trigger and just doing it! Thanks so much!!

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Woot! You’ll love it!

Laura Anann August 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm

LOVE LOVE the wonderful ideas!! Ordering some this week!! Thank you from a beginner in the business!! :)

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Great! Hope you love them as much as I do!

Lyndal Forrest August 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Thanks Jamie for your insightful knowledge. I spend alot of time on my DVD delivery, custom covers, packaging etc that I have been reluctant to go this way – but I absolutely LOVE the idea of having the flashdrive
coloured to my branding as well as engraved. I am going to give my customers an option to choose which way they would like to receive their images from now on. Thanks again !!

Jamie M Swanson August 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm

You’re welcome.

Amanda August 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Wow! Thanks for the info. I’ve been thinking about making the switch. $10 is NOT bad at all, considering that I spend $30 on a custom DVD cover and disk for my high end clients. Definitely worth it to me. :)

Jamie M Swanson August 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

You’re welcome. :) It’s nice to go cheaper!

Lindsay September 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm

You can order small boxes from pexagon for $1.99. I couldn’t find it any cheaper. I also printed stickers and will be putting them on the outside of my box.

I am so excited! Thanks for the great ideas!

Jamie M Swanson September 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm

You are welcome! :) Enjoy!

Felisha W September 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I purchased a jelly bracelet flash drive from Pexagon Tech and was very sad to still not recieved my order. It has been about a month now. :(
I only got one bracelet to try them out for myself and see if I should purchase more from them.
Not to happy with what happened.

I love this post though and it is a terrific idea! :D
Thanks, Jamie!

Felisha W September 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Recieve****

Jamie M Swanson September 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm

That’s no good! Have you contacted customer service about it? They’ve been really responsive with me. If you don’t have a contact, let me know and I’ll point the lady I’ve been chatting with your way. Thanks!

Amber September 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I love this idea! I think it works especially great for larger jobs, such as a wedding since the speed of a flashdrive loading the pictures is so much faster than a CD as well.

Jamie M Swanson September 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Yup. Saves me a ton of time!

Gardell Sanford September 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Where can I order flash drives like that with
my logo on them and how much will that cost,
Maybe let’s say about 20 2GB.

Jamie M Swanson September 10, 2012 at 8:46 am

You can get them through Pexagon Tech. That’s where I order. There’s a code for 25% off up in the post.

Tiffany September 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Thank you soo much for this article! The only thing that makes me hesitant about switching is the “WOW” factor… I know I love it when I open a box that I’ve been waiting anxiously for and see BOOM a beautiful photo. I’ve started using WHCC for custom-made lasered DVDs with custom-made DVD cases. They just look soo impressive! I don’t feel there would be such a wow factor opening a box and seeing a colorful stick. But I am interested in switching though because I have had clients ask about them. Thank you for the idea suggestions for sprucing up the packaging with a USB drive. Great article! :D

Jamie M Swanson September 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm

You’re welcome, Tiffany. :)

Eileen October 1, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Am I the only person in the whole world who has wiped a dvd? Boom. Nada. Zip. It is possible people! haha

Jamie M Swanson October 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Probably not, but people need a reason to convince themselves why what they are currently doing is right, because change can be uncomfortable and that’s no fun. Plus, I didn’t want to change at first either because I loved what I was doing, but yeah, no way I want ANYONE to not be able to get their photos from me, and I wasn’t willing to chance it.

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