In it, I discussed why, especially when you’re first starting out, paying for advertising is a bad idea. While it might seem like an easy way to get some clients fast, it turns out that there are a lot of free ways to score clients that actually work better than paid advertising!
2.2013: How to land more clients
(Click the image below to read the full article PDF)
At the end of the post, Jenika suggests that photographers consider breaking up their photography prices into smaller chunks rather than stating the fee in one lump sum. She talks about how people spend money, and how they tend to look at spending $100 on 10 small items as less significant than spending $100 on 1 item. In other words, they spend $100 on 10 small items without even thinking about it. But they pause and consider value if they’re faced with the decisions of spending $100 on 1 item.
I don’t disagree at all, and think it is wise to break photography prices down in a way that makes it digestible for a customer’s own personal “cash flow”, so long as it never puts the photographer’s revenue at risk.
How To Protect Your Revenue
Ensure the customer is always paying in advance of the services or products being rendered (you do not have time to chase after money or unpaid invoices)
Resist the urge to throw in freebies (it’s eating away at your profit margin, unless you worked in the freebie pricing already and it’s just “marketing”)
Be sure to break down installments into just that; do not discount the fee you’d make if they were to pay it all at once
And sometimes, despite your efforts to offer broken down payments, clients are just plain cheap. They don’t want to pay the photography prices you need to charge for your work in order to run a healthy and profitable business. This has absolutely nothing to do with the photography industry. This is prevalent in all industries. There are people who window shop in Apple stores, Coach stores, clothing stores, and more every day. While they’d love to own the products in those stores, either they truly cannot afford them because of essential cost of living expenses or they just don’t quite value the products enough.
And you know what? That’s okay.
Apple and Coach don’t mark down their items every time a window shopper walks out of the store without making a purchase, and neither should you.
How to spot a “cheap client” from a mile away:
They haven’t even seen your work, yet, and their first question is “how much do you charge?”
They try to negotiate with you on your session fee
You engage them in a pre-sales discussion about how they’ll use the images you create, but they don’t engage much back with you, get excited or show other early buying signs
When you finish your awesome script and ask them a million questions about what they’re looking for in a shoot, they bring it right back around to price immediately
When you tell them what clients spend with you, on average, they pause, think for longer than normal or say “hmmmm…” out loud
Be the hot prom date.
I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, I always got googley-eyed for the guy who would never seriously date me. I wasn’t a competitive person, per se, but I did have a crush on a boy who did not feel one ounce of emotion toward me (I saw him at a high school reunion a few years ago, and he looked awful… in case you were at all curious).
So I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that you stop trying to win over these types of “cheap clients” by either entertaining their discount requests or by desperately saying whatever comes to your mind when they hesitate in sticker shock.
How to act differently toward “cheap clients”
Whenever you’re involved in a conversation with someone who qualifies as a “cheap client”, go on the offensive.
I’m not for everyone: Say something to the effect of, “I realize I’m not for everyone, and if you’re not ready to invest in my photography, I completely understand.”
Play hard to get: Follow the statement above with, “I tend to book out 4-6 weeks/months in advance, but I’d love to fit you in when I’m able to if you change your mind.”
Get their email address and put them on your list: And then end the conversation, but not until you gather their email address, if you haven’t already. A little weekly or monthly email campaign never hurts as a reminder!
You’ve got other business to attend to, other clients (with money) to attract, and these “cheap clients” honestly aren’t worth your valuable time. If their definition of your value changes, they’ll be back. If their definition of your value doesn’t change, they won’t. And either case is a win/win for you, because you’re not jeopardizing the financial health of your business by spending time on the window shoppers.
Looking to find photography clients that are better than the ones you’re working with today? Perhaps it’s because the people today don’t find value in what you create. Or, perhaps, the clients who hire you now aren’t willing to pay you the prices you want to demand. Sometimes, you feel lucky to find photography clients, but after working with them you realize they can be a downright mismatch for the success of your business.
So while it may seem like common sense, unless you define who you’re looking for, the chances that they’ll come knocking at your door are slim. After all, until you define them, you cannot redesign your business to match what they desire.
First, define photography clients you love
Grab a piece of paper to jot down your thoughts. By following this easy three-step exercise, you’ll begin to define the types of photography clients you want:
1. Name the customers you want to be working with. (If you cannot name names, here, because you haven’t worked with anyone you actually want to work with, yet, describe the person in as many words as possible, instead.)
2. What do you think they want from you? (Go a few levels deeper than just saying “photographs”. There are no wrong answers. Brainstorm a bit and see what you come up with.)
3. What are you appealing to, emotionally, for them? (In other words, how does the experience you want to create for them and the images impact their lives, emotionally?)
3 easy steps to find photography clients you love
Now that you know a little more about these clients, let’s discover how to find them, shall we?
Using that same piece of paper, write down your thoughts to the following three questions.
1. Where do the type of clients you named or wrote about above hang out? Where do they go for information or for other services like yours?
2. Where are you currently marketing your photography that they absolutely aren’t?
3. Does your current marketing clearly explain the emotional experience you have to offer, as it relates to the emotional impact you hope have on their lives?
After these two simple exercises of defining the perfect client and taking note of where they hang out, you’re better equipped to find them. In addition, if you noted any marketing you’re currently doing for your photography business that is not in a place where these ideal clients hang out, consider ceasing that particular marketing effort or phasing it out over time.
For most of us, building a business where we find photography clients we love working with equates to endless happiness and referrals to more photography clients just like them.
Want to make more money as a photographer and find photography clients you love?
To be sure to hear about the launch of my next e-book, sign up with your email address below.
Follow me on Facebook or Google+, too, while you’re at it to watch the build up to the launch.
Listen up, photographers. I think you’re establishing your photography prices all wrong.
When you head out to the store to buy a new shirt, an end table for your bedroom, or a box of rice, do you break out a calculator and ponder what it actually cost for the retailer to sell that item to you?
If you were to hire someone to do something special with your hair or pretty up your lawn with some custom landscaping, do you do the math to see how they broke even on the deal?
If the answer is no, then why would you create your photography prices that way?
Create value first, check the financial health of your photography prices second:
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you build your price list with no concept of how much you need to earn. Do you have to ensure your prices will allow you to break even, and then earn you a little more? Absolutely! This is an essential step that you should consider doing before you publish your pricing.
What I am suggesting, however, is that you approach your photography prices from a slightly different angle, first.
Here’s what I mean:
1. What specific thing are you super awesome at that very few can match?
If you feel there is some thing… I mean ONE thing… that you do better than your competition, start there. Identify that thing and have it in your brain. For me it’s shushing babies patiently. I’m not a better photographer. I don’t do lighting better. But I do shush babies better.
2. How valued is it for those potentially hiring you?
If your ONE awesome thing is not valued by the vast majority of those potentially hiring you, it’s worthless. In other words, it’s great you can do it, but it holds zero value. And when it comes to pricing, this becomes a problem.
I know that a #1 concern of early moms hiring newborn photographers is how the baby will behave. They worry and stress over it. If I can communicate how I’m the top awarded baby shusher in the Philadelphia area, I’ve won big value. And, as an added bonus, I’ve enhanced the mom’s experience because she’ll end up having a more enjoyable time at the shoot if baby is quiet and safe with me.
If your ONE awesome thing isn’t valued, go back to the drawing board and come up with a new awesome thing. Ask yourself whether it’s valued over and over until you uncover your ONE truly awesome thing (otherwise known as your key differentiator, value proposition or unique selling proposition).
3. How much is it worth?
I mean, really. How much is it worth to hire you to not only create amazing photographs, but to also gain access to your ONE awesome thing?
I’m imagining that at this point, all sorts of “head trash” is bubbling up in your thoughts. You’re beginning to guess your value and your worth. You’re deflating your value because you don’t think you deserve it, but, ultimately, by allowing this, you’re damaging the future success and well-being of your business.
So, instead, use those brain cells to imagine yourself providing the most amazing experience you could possibly provide to the most supportive and appreciative client on the planet (you know… the person who most wanted your ONE awesome thing).
How much do you think they would pay?
Starting to figure out your pricing based on this approach, first, allows you to think grander, to shoot higher and to realize a photography business based on value, not cost.
I’m working on something bigger: sign up to be the first to hear about it
I’ve watched the photography industry become plagued by a lack of value-based decisions. I’ve listened to photographers tell me their struggles with pricing and getting clients to pay them what they deserve. And rather than sit back and just listen, I feel commanded to do something about it.
I’m in the midst of writing a new e-book about building a value-based photography business. Be sure to hear about the launch, by signing up with your email address below.
Follow me on Facebook or Google+, too, while you’re at it to watch the build up to the launch.
In 2013 I launched into a new partnership with Professional Photographer Magazine (published by PPA) as a monthly columnist. The magazine is mailed out to a total circulation of 54,000 people monthly – wowza. It’s something I am totally honored to contribute to, and I also greatly look forward to receiving it each month. And not just because I’m in it.
The magazine is an asset to photographers and boasts some impressive articles, advice and coverage of various issues photographers face.
I received permission by the head of the publication to begin posting my column here, as well. She’s a very awesome lady named Jane Gaboury, and I’m proud to now call her a friend.
Here’s the first one from 2013. The remaining columns from the first half of the year will follow over the next few weeks, and then I’ll post them each month as the magazine comes out.
1.2013: Finding a good fit
The ideal photography clients are different for every photographer. Only you know what satisfies you creatively and financially. You can define that ideal client and increase your odds of having one for your next session. Grab a piece of paper and draw a big line down the middle. Label the columns “Bad clients” and “Ideal clients.”