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Photography business tips that miss the point

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Photography business tips that miss the point

10 more business tips for photographers (pt.2)


Continuing our look at Keith’s collection of 50 rather poor business tips for working photographers.

In this series of posts (5) Keith splits and revisits the big list and offers his own reasons for saying they are likely bad ideas.

Part 2 looks at the next ten from his list and includes links to other articles which discuss issues in more detail.

All our business related articles have their own index page

free lunch

10 business tips to be wary of (pt.2)

From ‘50 photo business tips

Deals – a discount on initial work will lead to full price work later.

More than anything, this is indicative of not considering the viewpoint of the prospective client and the fundamentals of how people buy goods and services.

Of course some people may feel they want to force a discount out of you. Apart from this not being a good sign for building an ongoing client relationship, it’s a good reason not to lowball your initial offer.

There’s no better way to learn than give someone a lowish quote and for them to go ‘OK’ immediately – you’re left wondering just what they would have paid.

Karen runs the business side of Northlight, and I’m specifically forbidden from giving actual quotes over the phone – I can point to aspects of our pricing for photography and give a general idea of what a job might cost, but always with the proviso that we will send a proper written quote. We have ‘systems’ in place to stop me giving stuff away just because it’s a job that really interests me…

More business always equals more money – Groupon and its ilk are your friends.

Here the mistake is confusing turnover with profit.

Profit is what puts food on the table.

  • Fifteen £100 jobs that make £10 profit each gives you £150 (£1500 turnover)
  • Two £500 jobs that make £150 profit each gives you £300 (£1000 turnover)

The real difference comes from the amount of time and work that you put in to the jobs, leaving time for marketing and other business activities.

That’s not to say offers and deals can’t be of benefit but you need to see how the numbers will work for your business in the short and long term. If you are on your own, there is a definite limit to how much more work you can do

People really do value free work – just make sure your name is mentioned.

Champagne glasses

Free drinks – who remembers the vintage?

I’m not saying there is no case for not charging – just make sure that the value of your work is acknowledged.

A charity might ask for one of my images for free – my response (if it’s not a charity I personally support) is to ask if they get their heating systems or other services repaired for free? Sorry, but I’m running a business and that isn’t a registered charity.

A bit of free work makes it much more likely that a client will come back and pay proper rates in the future.

No it means they will value your work every bit as much as they paid for it, and expect more for free next time.

See also:

Potential clients read picture credits – get your work seen, picture credits are money in the bank.

No they don’t – I’ve asked around and have come across no-one who’s ever had a definite enquiry as a result of their name besides a picture.

I don’t doubt that there are some places where a picture credit will get noticed, they are just nowhere near as common as you’d like.

Picture credits give a warm sense of achievement – not pay for warmth to heat your house.

Clients usually know exactly what they want, and will always tell you if there were problems – wait for feedback.

If only… The client that comes to you with clear ideas about what they want is a great thing, but even the best can make assumptions that need sorting out in advance. Assume that every job is a new one – have a clear idea of what you need to know and ask. After the job solicit feedback, don’t wait to hear – ask how it went and if there was anything you could have improved.

You’re important to clients – Good work means that clients will remember you and come back for more.

Ongoing work depends on developing a relationship – just because you remember every detail of a job you did six months ago doesn’t mean the client will – they have jobs to do, and most of them probably didn’t involve your photography.

Also beware of the fact that people change roles and jobs, so just because you’ve worked with someone for several years doesn’t mean that their successor will contact you. I’ve known a new person actually try and force me down on price just because he was new to the company and wanted to show his ability to do a good ‘deal’ … fortunately I’d regularly dealt with his manager too ;-)

Restaurants are a great place to sell your prints – no-one is really thinking about food, or who they are with.

If you really want to go this route, at least ask other photographers or artists at the location how much they have sold (and over what period). There are places where this can work, but not many.

This process is alternatively known as the ‘request for free wall art’ and relies on a steady stream of people happy to see their work on display – nothing wrong there, but remember I’m running a business, so work on display is probably not giving a very good return of my costs in making it.   It’s essentially a variant of people wanting to use your images for free, in return for ‘picture credits’ – just that the carrot (a potential print sale) is a different one.

prints on show

People remember my pictures, but how many sold…

See also:

Cut your print prices – they will sell more.

Once again… profit is not the same as turnover.

My simplest example (from Will your prints sell)

Let’s say you work out that you can make prints for a total of £10 each
Let’s say you sell 20 of these prints at £15
You’ve made £100 profit
Let’s sell these prints at £95 each – if you sell two, you’ve made a profit of £170
Which is easier – finding 20 customers or two customers?

See also:

The web site – a place for your art and vision, not to sully with business matters.

Your photography business web site has a job to do, and that job is to support and advance your business.

If your business works in an environment that expects artistic expression, meaning and vision to be central, then by all means satisfy that need, but for the majority of working photographers, that actually has precious little impact on the success of their business.

I don’t work in such areas, so an Artists statement for me is utterly meaningless.

Remember, I’m talking business here, not personal ‘projects’ (aka ‘a shortage of paying work’). It’s important to give a feel for your work but remember that it is for the benefit of clients and potential clients, not just about you…

To be continued next week

Photo business tip article parts

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Business related articles (50+) are listed on the Photo-business page.

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