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Pro photography is one field of work where not only is it hard to keep up with the competition and constantly challenge yourself creatively, but you also have to find your own work, especially in the first years. After that, clients will start knocking at your door more and more often, but some of them will want the quality your offer for less than what it is worth. After a few years of building a solid clientele, you have the comfort of politely turning them down, but until you get to that point, you have to reel in any you fish you can hook. So what do you do when your client wants good work for cheap money?
First of all, you shouldn’t go down this road thinking that every potential customer wants to rip you off and have you work hard for nickels. The hardest part for many young pros is putting value on their work. It isn’t an easy thing to do for most creative professionals, and it can make you feel frustrated or suspicious.
One of the most important things is to have variety in all you have to offer. Ideally, you should have three packages for delivering your work. When you get to a meeting with a potential client, you should ask them what they’re looking for. Are they interested in a good price, a good quality to cost ratio, or the absolute best of what you have to offer?
This is why you should present your services in three packages. First of all, you should have the basic offer, that number you cannot go under. Only you can decide what the number is. Your next package should target clients who are looking for excellent value for money. It should be considerably higher in cost and it should include more a lot more options.
The final package should be the most complete and it should target clients with a healthy budget who want the best of what you have to offer with no hesitation. Unfortunately, they are the rarest, so when you get them into a meeting, make sure you do everything in your power to minimize chances of failure.
The variables from each package depend on the kind photography you provide. Negotiating is always hard the first few times you do it, but after that it kind of becomes a habit. You should never feel bad if someone interested in your work, who has a small budget decides that even your minimum package is too much. These are the clients who really do have budget limitations that are more or less up to them, or they are people who you wouldn’t even want to have as clients because they appreciate bargains more than good photography. The ancient cliché that refers to relationships, the one with the fish in the sea applies to photography businesses as well. So even if it is a crowded market, sooner or later the right clients will come to you.