Ever been stood up? If not, let me tell you, it totally sucks!
It’s never happened to me on a romantic date (thankfully!) but I have been stood up. One time in college my friend and I had planned to see a movie. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and I was really looking forward to it. But right at the last minute he ditched me for some girl. I was pretty steamed about it at the time, but he did eventually marry her so I’ve since let him off the hook!
I had the same kind of thing happen to me early on in my business too.
There were times I’d set up the studio on a Saturday morning, get all my gear ready and wait around for a client who had confirmed the session – only to get a no show.
Sometimes, clients would contact me and sound keen at first, only to hear my prices and back out when it came time to actually sign up. That’s usually because they were price shopping and hoping for some sort of deal.
Tire-kickers are the ones who want to know everything about your business, they ask a million questions about how the session will run, what props you’ll use, who you’ve worked with and what your processes are – but they don’t commit.
No shows, price shoppers and tire-kickers waste precious time that could be better spent with your family and friends or, you know, shopping.
They’re a frustrating part of business… but there are ways to eliminate them altogether.
Over the years I’ve developed a thicker skin and some solid studio policies that protect my time, my business and my sanity!
Your time is precious – treat it as such. Protect it with a written agreement or contract and have your client sign it.
If you don’t have a written contract – get one. You can find sample contracts here, or if you need something a little meatier you can buy a customizable contract. If you live in the US Rachel Brenke is a good person to help you with this.
I have a Portrait Agreement that I send out to my clients and have them sign before we schedule the shoot. It outlines things like:
- Session details including time and date of shoot
- Session fees as well as cancellation fees
- When the session fee will be collected
- What happens if they are a no show
- If they need to reschedule how far in advance they need to let me know
- Various other fine details that protect both my time and my work
Having a written agreement like this in place ensures clients show up, and covers your butt financially in case something happens, which is why I created a Studio Policies Workbook. You can get yours HERE, it’s totally free!
Deal seekers and price hagglers are like vampires, they’ll beat down your price, devalue your art, and suck the life right out of you – be the Buffy of your field.
Never discount your work unless there’s a good reason. Or, you know, you actually want to. Either way let it be YOUR decision, not someone else who feels entitled to your free or discounted work, like family members – but that’s a whooooole other post.
You might want to discount your work for a holiday promotion like Mother’s Day or give your existing clients a ‘birthday discount’. You could run a special on ‘holiday cards’ or perhaps you want to partner with a local charity to support a cause that’s close to your heart.
The point here is that you are in control of the discount – it’s your business and you get to decide when and how you run any specials.
When you discount your work for no reason you start to look desperate, and you immediately devalue your services in the eyes of customers.
If you promptly drop your prices just because someone asks you to, they immediately start to feel like your prices were too high in the first place. They’ll feel jilted and you’ll seem unprofessional. It’s bad for everyone.
I personally never discount my work and I rarely run any kind of promotion.
The main reason I don’t run promotions like mini sessions is because, well frankly, I just don’t enjoy doing them! I’m at the point in my business now where I don’t have to do anything I don’t enjoy doing – which brings me to the next point.
You cant be all things to all people, especially when it comes to your art – define who you are for and watch your business explode.
I don’t want to feel as though I have to spend my days photographing mini sessions just to make ends meet. That’s why I got clear on who my ideal client is and put all of my marketing efforts into reaching that perfect person.
Doing that enables me to take on fewer clients and at the same time, make more money – it sounds magical, doesn’t it! It’s totally doable though and it’s exactly what I teach in my Brand Brilliantly program.
When you put in the work up front to find those perfect clients, you won’t have to run promotions or discount your work. Trust me on this, do the work!
My final tip if you want to position yourself for success is to avoid aligning your business with discount providers.
In the early days on I was approached multiple times by Living Social and Groupon. It’s easy to think doing something like this is a good way to get new clients through the door, especially if you’re just starting out.
And it’s true, you will get some new people through the door, but as we’ve already seen you won’t get the right people. You’ll end up attracting people just looking for the deal you’re offering, nothing more and nothing less.
These are not clients you want to keep for your business going forward because you won’t be able to grow with them, or ever charge what you’re worth.
I hope you found these tips useful.
Leave me a comment below and tell me how you have dealt with deal seekers in your business. If you know someone in business (yep, these strategies can work for any type of business) please forward this on to them!
Yours in pricing solidarity,