It seems like photographers are always arguing these days about how they should market their work, and how much they should charge for it.
As we contemplate this question, I thought it might be useful to look at other types of businesses for insight. Here goes:
Have you ever seen a 30-foot inflatable gorilla in front of a high-end car dealership? How about a clown holding a sign and waving at the passing traffic?
Probably not — but I bet you have seen these things in front of a used car dealership.
Step back and think about those scenarios and ask yourself, “Which one am I?”
Are you lowering your prices to attract bargain hunters at all costs — or are you focused on building a customer base that will value and be loyal to your brand?
How retailers present and package their products says a lot about how they value them — as well as how much we are expected to value them.
Have you ever walked by a dollar bin at a retail store? It’s obvious that the retailer doesn’t think the items inside are worth much, which is why they are stacked up and left to be picked over in a messy pile.
Are you packaging your photography to be the equivalent of the exciting, desirable product in a retailer’s window display — or just more fodder for the dollar bin?
Are you producing high-quality photography, and packaging this in a context that communicates your value, from the very first email you send a client to the final delivery of images? Or are you just doing enough to get by?
A lot of professional photographers like to complain today about how amateurs and hobbyists are taking away their business by charging half their rates.
Let’s say that instead of being a photographer, you ran a landscaping business.
If your business plan is threatened by a middle school kid offering to cut neighbors’ lawns for $20, is this the kid’s fault — or yours?
The successful landscaper doesn’t worry about the kids with lawnmowers, because the clients who choose their service are seeking more than the kids can offer. They expect a higher level of professionalism, consistency, and the availability of additional services (such as planting the flower beds, tweaking the backyard sprinkler system to provide better coverage, etc.)
So, which kind of landscaper do you want to be?
What kind of retail display does your product deserve?
Which kind of car dealership do you want to be?
The answers to these questions are in your control. Don’t sell yourself short.