In my coaching work, one of the recurring themes I hear is that photographers consistently charge too little for their work.
Whatever the reason is for each individual photographer, the end result is the same.
A lack of personal satisfaction, poor sales, inability to maintain a healthy business, struggle and hardship, diminishing confidence, and low morale.
Self-Sabotage Is Business Suicide
In most cases, this is unintentional.
After all, who would deliberately sabotage their own business?
However, the effect is most certainly real, and can be caused by a variety of reasons:
- Lack of business expertise and knowledge…
- Poor understanding of effective pricing…
- Lack of confidence in their own ability…
- The “I’m new to the business” excuse…
- Personal issues surrounding the need to ask for money…
- Poorly defined studio policies…
- Lack of a proper studio pricing system…
- Being too easily influenced by the outcome of each sale…
Take a look at this short video on the vendor-client relationship…
I believe it effectively illustrates the absurdity of allowing your own clients to rule the roost when it comes to how you price and sell your work.
Fear, Doubt & Worry—The Inner Plague
The clients in the video are essentially attempting (in vain) to take control of each business’s pricing policy.
Too many photographers encounter such behavior, and yet they still allow the client to “win” these types of disputes.
The reason they do so can be explained by 3 simple things:
So many photographers are afraid of losing their reputation or clients if they don’t give way.
They suffer doubt over whether their talent, skills and products are worth the fees they want (and need) to ask.
Finally, they worry about losing a sale, what the client will think of them, or being unable to pay bills,.
This next sentence is vitally important:
If you don’t escape this way of thinking, and if you fail to eliminate fear, worry and doubt, then you and your business will have very little chance of success.
But How Can You Do That?
The first step in this process is to know that you and your photography are probably worth much more than you’re currently asking for it.
The value isn’t in the time you spend or the paper the prints are on.
The true value lies in your talent, skills, the client experience you provide, and the result your work gives to the client.
If you’re a people photographer, then that result is the preservation of heartfelt memories for a lifetime and more.
For commercial photographers, the result is improved branding, marketing and sales of the company they did the job for.
You see, it’s never about the product.
Forget about what little it costs to print a photograph—it’s what’s on the paper that really counts.
Be aware, too, that one of the main differences between most photographers and the vendors in the video is that the people representing those businesses were employees, or at least worked in a business with more than one other person.
They had no right or authority to cave in to the client’s demands, because it was not their job to do so.
Make Sure You’re Wearing The Right Hat
If you’re a solo business owner, you need to put on different hats every now and again.
Your departmental manager hat determines prices, not the sales person.
You need to wear your sales hat when you talk to clients, and remain focused on that task alone.
When you’re engaged in sales, you should be firmly focused on finding out what the client wants and helping them to get it.
This requires the need to firmly establish value before attempting to close the sale itself.
One thing I encourage all of my coaching clients to do is to sit down and think deeply about where they provide value, and how their work might change people’s lives.
Then come up with a fee structure that you feel best reflects your skills and talent—it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the business five minutes or five years, talent is talent, and you should be appropriately compensated for it.