I see quite a lot of attention paid to the problem of the cheap client. The bargain hunters who want to talk you down to the point where you’re paying them to take their pictures. But the more I’ve dealt with people, the more I realize that this isn’t a problem of demographics (some of my wealthiest clients have also been the cheapest) but of value. It isn’t ‘cheapies’ who are the problem. It’s folks who don’t value photography in the first place.
When I first started, I used to cower at phone calls or emails claiming that my clients “didn’t have any money” or “couldn’t afford” their prints. I’d discount, slash prices, give them my first born child. But then I’d see their activity on Facebook or hear through the grapevine: holidays, new cars, “spent the whole day shopping”, out drinking every weekend. And I realized that these people aren’t flat broke. They just don’t value my product. And it’s totally their prerogative what they spend their money on, but this is the point at which I stopped responding to the “I don’t have any money” emails. Because slashing my prices wasn’t doing them a favor or giving them a leg-up in life – I was just devaluing myself. I was agreeing with them that my work wasn’t worth paying for and that did far more damage to my heart than I’d anticipated. Damage which stuck around long after the pennies they’d given me had evaporated.
See, even the poorest people spend money on the things they value. Some people value McDonald’s. Some people value DVDs. Some people value a holiday twice a year. Or a TV the size of a bus. And trust me, I know from experience that when you really want something, it ain’t hard to get your hands on the cash. Some of my best clients have been normal people just like me who had to take advantage of my payment scheme but really truly valued my work & my product. They didn’t haggle, they didn’t brow-beat me. They placed their order and budgeted the cost into their finances. And they actually display their photos, too.
…which leads me onto my next point. Most clients who beat my prices down to pennies (or even free) have never displayed their images in their home. Some never even placed an order for one single photo after getting a heckuva deal on the session. Because they didn’t value photography in the first place and by deeply discounting, I was agreeing and telling them “you’re right – it’s worthless”. If a client truly has budget issues and they need a little help, you can kindly work out a payment plan but whatever you do, don’t slash your prices. Don’t respond to people who want to ‘do a deal’ because the only person you’re letting down is yourself.
[This] is a must-read, must-share blog post. But be ready – it will probably make you cry.Pin It