Are you your own client? This seemingly rhetorical question is straight to the point.
Photographers around the world struggle with pricing. The most common reason being a complete lack of confidence in their pricing, often quoting, “I would never pay that much.”
Well, if this sounds like you, then keep reading.
Here is my simple, to-the-point, advice for you. GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY! Yes, it’s that simple. Accept that this is only a mental block, nothing more. Just because you wouldn’t buy a Louis Vuitton or a Mercedes-Benz doesn’t mean there isn’t a world of people out there who are willing to spend money on luxury items. The reality is, if you ever want to be able to afford the finer things in life, then you had better get your pricing in order, which typically means raising your prices. If you are looking for an expensive hobby, well, congratulations, you have found it. At a minimum, you should be looking for ways to afford the gear you want, which, again, comes back to money.
You have to value your talent— you are an artist. Art is not a commodity product, although some out there would have you believe otherwise with shoot and burners charging $500 for a DVD of images. Trust me when I tell you there are clients out there, tens of thousands of them actually, who want more than just a DVD of images. They want a complete service that you aren’t able to afford to provide because you are not charging enough, because, again, you are not your own client. It’s a vicious circle.
So, how do you break out of this circle?
- Accept that it’s ok if you are not your own client. Do you think people who have their own private jets sell private jets to billionaires? Of course not. The very thought of that is ridiculous. So, too, is this notion. Accept that it’s ok and move on.
- Value your work and your talent. This is tied to confidence. If you don’t value your work, who will? Of course clients are not willing to pay for your services if you don’t believe in them. You are a limited resource— it’s that simple. What is the minimum amount of money you are willing to work for on any given day? $500? For me, I would rather have the day off. You might think that sounds elitist, but I assure you it’s not. It’s 100% based on experience. There is a cost to doing business— gear, marketing, advertising, time on the shoot, time to drive to the shoot, phone time with the client, insurance, post production, and the list goes on and on. I don’t want to work for $6 per hour. Nor should you.
- Do you ever want to be your own client? Think about it— what do you want out of life? Surely, there is something you want. Maybe you are not a materialistic person and there is no shame in that, but do you want to retire? Do you want to provide your kids with a good education, or finally take that family trip? Do you need new or better gear? Well, none of this is ever gong to happen without the money to pay for it.
- Position yourself and your business where you want to be 12 months from now. Stop convincing yourself you are not good enough. It’s a massive chicken-and-egg scenario. Sure, we all want to get better and yes, we all need to be committed to continuous improvement, but will you ever reach your final destination? No. As artists, we are all on a journey with no final destination.
- Think like your clients. Maybe you are not your own client, but surely you can figure out who they are and understand their spending patterns. Companies all over the world do this. You have to get in the mind of your client. This will help you at least understand who you are trying to attract to your business and give you some guidance. For example, clients buying a Louis Vuitton are not looking for a sale on Groupon. In fact, it’s the opposite. So stop doing things that are counter-intuitive to your own success.
I hope this has helped you think a little differently. Get out there and start thinking like the client you want to be some day and the client you hope to attract to your own business. Your outlook and projections should start looking up immediately.