We’re always trying to balance work with our personal lives, and as photographers trying to run a photography business, our personal lives often take a back seat, especially during busy seasons. Fortunately, we have tools and services available to us that can lighten our workload and help us deliver a quality experience without sacrificing ourselves or our bank accounts. One area, for example, in which we’ve found it worthwhile to outsource work is album design. The key to making this work for your photography business, however, is finding a designer you can trust to effectively tell your stories. We’ve previously reviewed Zno’s products and briefly examined their site features. This time around, we’d like to demonstrate a specific workflow for using their Zno Album Design Service to show you how easy it is to save time and money working with Zno.
What Is Zno Album Design Service?
Zno, a professional printing lab whose albums and other print products we’ve featured previously on SLR Lounge, also offers an album design service. When you use this service, professional album designers on Zno’s team will use your photos to create an album based on your design brief, which you’ll complete as part of the order form. Overall, the process is simple, and the design team will design and refine, if needed, until the album is approved. The service costs $3 per sheet and turnaround for an album takes two to four days.
Zno Review Breakdown of Zno’s Album Design Service
- Upload Photos to Zno Gallery and Select Design Service
- Complete the Order Form
- Review the Design
- Accept, Adjust in Zno Designer, or Ask for Revisions (2-4 Day Turnaround)
- Use Zno Proofer to Send Album Design Directly to Clients for Approval
- Order the Album
Step 1: Upload Photos to Zno Gallery and Select Design Service
When you register your account on Zno.com, not only will you have access to Zno Designer, but you will also have access to 1GB storage on Zno gallery, watermarks (if desired), Lightroom integration, and Zno Slideshow. Zno Proofer is also available with a paid plan.
In order to take advantage of Zno’s Album Design Service, you first have to start an album project in Zno Designer. Once you’ve done that, you can request Album Design Service, which leads us to the next step.
Step 2: Complete the Order Form
Completing the order form for Zno’s Album Design Service couldn’t be easier. Within the form, you’ll find all of your options neatly organized. Simply plug in your selections. If you’re new to Zno, I highly recommend picking up a free sample album and purchasing some material samples before placing your first client order. This will allow you to get hands-on with the available options. Discounts are available with the Pro Plan as well, so be sure to check that out.
In addition to letting you choose the specs you want for the album, the order form serves as a simple design brief to let the design team know any particular details you’d like to see in the album design. For example, if you’d prefer to limit how many images you want featured per spread, or if there’s an epic image you’d love to see take up an entire spread, let them know. Chances are, you’re going to appreciate whatever design the team puts together, but this will help ensure that your vision is realized in the final design.
How to Use Zno Album Design Service, Step 3: Review the Design
Expect an email with a link to the album within two to four days of submitting the design service order form. The link will open the album in Zno’s Designer software (on the Zno website). Once opened, you can review the layout and leave comments for the design team if you require revisions. When commenting, you can mark a specific point on the spread to direct the design team to areas you’d like to see revised, or you can comment in the comment panel on the right hand side. Once you’re done leaving comments, simply save and submit them via the save & submit buttons.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to wait until after the revision has been completed before you can submit any new comments, so make sure you’ve included all necessary notes before submitting your comments.
Step 4: Use Zno Proofer to Send Album Design Directly to Clients for Approval
The Zno Designer software includes Zno’s Proofer, which will allow you to send the album draft directly to your clients for approval. Clients will be able to save comments, which you can then use to either make quick fixes yourself, or else send to the Design team to revise the album. We share more details on this feature in our overview of the best online album proofing options for photographers.
Please note: Once you’ve approved an album, Zno’s design team can no longer revise the album. Consider it permanent.
Step 5: Order the Album
Lastly, of course, you’ll need to order the album. You can find an “Order” button in the top right corner inside Zno Designer. Follow the checkout instructions and then wait for the album to arrive. If you have Zno’s Power Plan, you can export the album to third party labs and have them print and deliver the albums. Ordering through Zno, however, couldn’t be easier. You have access to their entire range of album products, and you don’t have to export spreads.
Zno’s Pro Plan also includes an option to drop ship the album directly to your clients for just $5. This comes in handy when your clients are unable to visit your studio, and it’s cheaper than shipping the album to clients yourself.
Lastly, and this may go without saying, I recommend carefully reviewing your order and confirming that you’ve placed the correct and finalized product(s) in your cart, especially if you’re ordering multiple albums.
Bonus Tip: Reveal Party
To further add to their clients’ experience, many photographers will invite clients in for a reveal party when the album (and wall art, if they ordered it) arrive. This is not a must, but some clients (who have the time) appreciate the effort and extra attention. Check out our guide to pricing prints for maximum profit to learn more about sales techniques you can use to sell more prints.
How Zno Album Design Service Differs from Everyone Else
When I consider the album design services I’ve tried, I feel that Zno has tied things together in a unique way. Album design services aren’t anything new, nor are proofing tools. What Zno does differently, however, is seamlessly integrate the best parts from everything I already use. I feel like every tool and service that I individually love is finally working together instead of fighting each other.
As an example, most album design services may offer great designs, but they return flat .jpg files. This is fine if the designer hit the mark on the first round. But that’s rarely the case. Since Zno’s Album Design Service uses their album designer, which you have access to, you actually get something back that you can easily tweak yourself. That is super helpful! For example, let’s say you want to add or subtract a name. I can fix that myself in seconds because the draft is not just a flattened .jpg. Or, if I prefer, I can ask them to fix it. The point is that if 99% of the design is good to go, then I have the ability to fix that last 1% myself, which I’m usually more than happy to do.
In general, having the ability to go from design service to client proofing to ordering in one seamless application is unheard of. Typically, I’d need to a) work with a design service, then b) upload a .jpg draft to my album proofing, and then finally c) re-upload the finished client approved draft to whatever lab I use to print. Zno has literally reduced this workflow from three different applications to one painless all-in-one experience.
I hope you found these tips on how to save time and money using Zno Album Design Service helpful. This stellar service is fairly priced, easy to use, and quick. If you have the albums printed through Zno, you can enjoy additional savings for quality products, especially with a Pro Plan. At the end of the day, your time is valuable, and if you can take advantage of services like this through trusted companies, it’s going to make your business easier to run and give you more time to take care of other areas that require your attention, including those that aren’t business related.