I just got off the phone with a potential client. It was one of those long conversations where I do an awful lot of explaining: why I need to charge this much, why they can’t just use the images for whatever they want, blah blah blah blah blah.
You know how it goes. You’ve recited your own explanation so many times that it probably gives you a headache. It’s like pulling a bad tooth that keeps on growing back. You’ve probably wondered if it’s really worth the trouble.
But whether you shoot assignments or weddings, I’m here to tell you unequivocally that it is worth it to keep repeating this stuff. Why? Because every time you explain why you can’t just give your photos away, it does two things.
First of all, the business model of photography doesn’t make sense to many end users. They pay so much for the service of having you take these great photos, but then if they want reprints or additional stock uses, they need to pay even more? Why should photos cost that much anyway?
These questions explain why the RF model of just giving away disks of finished work is more prevalent with some photographers these days. It doesn’t make the most business sense, but it certainly reduces the potential for future headaches, especially when dealing with difficult clients.
However, that method hurts yourself and other photographers, which is exactly why it’s so important to keep educating clients and designers about how things “really work” in our industry. If our business model is going to succeed for photographers, educating clients (and reinforcing what you teach them) is necessary. By clearly laying things out for them with a calm and well thought-out conversation, you reinforce that as an accepted reality, which helps everyone.
Secondly, the more times you repeat something, the better you get at saying it. You’re able to state your case with a clear and authoritative tone so that it all makes sense to them. You’re also able to come up with better analogies that equate photo pricing into something your client can relate more closely to.
Of course, you can do all the explaining in the world, but that isn’t necessarily going to make them agree to your price. You’ll have to accept that there are some clients that you’ll never convince and who have no intention of paying the going rate for quality photos.
For everyone else, though, that’s where being a good salesperson comes in. At some point, you need to quit explaining and start convincing, or as we like to call it, “selling.”
Senior contributor Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.
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