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Negotiating + Pricing Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Yep, it's groozi!

Negotiating + Pricing Posts

How One Photographer Is Beating the Economy

On one of the professional forums I read daily, there is a conversation about the lousy state of the industry, how clients are hiring based only on price, how protecting one’s intellectual property rights has cost clients, how competitors are charging less and giving more, and blah, blah, blah. It’s the usual bitching and moaning that happens in any economic downturn when photographers: 1) are selling a product that a buyer can obtain elsewhere for less; or 2) are inadequately conveying their value-add to their clients; or 3) have clients that don’t care about the additional “value” the photographer adds to a project.

Michael Albany, a Philadelphia photographer specializing in architecture and portrait photography offered up some valuable insight that I think can help to inspire other photographers. He wrote:

I totally understand the fact that the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be and that our industry is A) in a total state of flux, and B) that the market is becoming saturated with too many Uncle Bobs but I have to say that I am so tired of hearing people whine about it. So you want to charge less or leave ASMP because they don’t [fit] your agenda, bye. Have a nice day.

I joined ASMP to learn and to grow and guess what, I am. Is it the end all to be all? Nope. Is my photography business where I want it to be? Well if you don’t know my name then no, it’s not. Is it growing? Yes.

On Selling, Negotiating, Commodities & Differentiation

Negotiating for PhotographersThis essay originally appeared in the handbook given to attendees of the American Society of Media Photographers‘ (ASMP) very successful Strictly Business three-day conference series earlier this year. The essay is reprinted here in its entirety. (ASMP’s updated-daily “Strictly Business” blog is another great resource for photographers.)

Selling and Negotiating.  The words strike fear into almost every creative person I’ve met.  As creatives in the photography business, we love to take pictures and have a strong desire to satisfy our clients.  The selling process, by its very nature, involves give and take, and at some point along the way, we’re likely to not give the client (or potential client) everything he or she wants. And, keep in mind that sometimes we won’t get everything that we want. That’s negotiating.

Negotiating Needn’t be Scary (Video)

Last month I had an opportunity to do an interview in the form of a webinar with Photoshelter co-founder Grover Sanschagrin on the topic of negotiating. He asked great questions and at the end of about 45 minutes the listening audience of more than 1,000 photographers was invited to submit questions. It was my first webinar and judging from the feedback, I think it went well. If you have questions, please ask them in the comments and we’ll get a dialogue going. Thanks for watching!

[vimeo clip_id=”27036957″ height=”” width=”580″]

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(Written by Detroit People Photographer Blake J. Discher)

Network Even Amongst Your Peers

handshakeI presented my program “Stop Grumbling – Get Out There” to a group photographers in New Orleans. (The New Orleans chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers.) It’s a roughly two hour seminar on networking and negotiating techniques.

Usually the doors open about an hour before I speak and I use that time to introduce myself to people as they arrive, exchange business cards, and to get a rough gauge of where the audience is in terms of networking experience. I always ask the question, “So tell me about what you do,” and from a person’s response I can tell a lot about what stage of their career they’re in and how much experience they have in handling a first-time face-to-face meeting with a stranger.

Don’t Let Your “Joes” Hold You Back

Most emerging photographers consider themselves generalists if for no other reason than that they want to work and any paying job coming their way sounds like a good one. But if this is where you’re at in your career, you’ll need to at some point do two things: first, become more of a specialist and second, be willing to let go of those early, low-paying clients. In this essay I’ll talk about the low-paying clients.

Let’s imagine the owner of the muffler shop on the corner of Main Street calls you to shoot some pictures of his shop for an ad he is running in the local weekly newspaper. We’ll call him Joe. He’s only willing to pay a small fee and you’ve done all you can to show him your value, why you’re better than everyone else, and most important, you’re convinced you’ve negotiated as far as you can with him on price. You do the shoot, he’s very satisfied, and he wants you to do more work. The fact remains though, he’s a low budget client.

I’m convinced there are two ways to make more money in any service business, including photography: work more or get better clients. I’ve taken the road of working to get better clients. More sophisticated clients understand copyright, understand licensing, and are in general much easier to work with. They are used to working with professionals in every aspect of their business.

Joe on the other hand sells a muffler and his customer owns it. Forever. The very concept of copyright is possibly foreign to him. He thinks since he’s paid you to take the photograph, he owns it. Licensing? That’s at the Department of Motor Vehicles!

As you begin to gain better clients, don’t be afraid to let go of Joe… ask me how I know. What happened to me will happen to you, guaranteed. You’ll have a day booked with low-paying Joe, and that great client you’ve been after for some time now, calls you asking you to shoot that very same day.

Don’t let Joe hold you back. At some point it’s no longer worth it to work for him. Instead, use that time working on your website, your physical portfolio, your other marketing efforts, tweaking your LinkedIn profile, or making a few phone calls or sending samples to prospective clients.

To move forward, you need to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back. Even if it’s a client. The one exception, at least for me, is the low-paying client who is a rich referral source. To this day, I have one client who, even though I’ve not raised my rates for over ten years, consistently gives me quality referrals. She knows to keep my ten-year-old pricing “our little secret” and in fact pre-sells me as “one of the more expensive photographers in town, but definitely the best!”

I’ll be presenting my sales and networking program “No More Grumbling – Get Out There” in Dallas tonight, September 22nd, and in New Orleans on Tuesday, September 27th.

Discount Additional Image Uses Intelligently

DiscountA question was asked on one of the photographer forums I read regularly:

“I recently convinced a magazine client to commission assignment photography as opposed to buying rights managed. Thus far, we have come to an understanding of fees for the assignment but they have come back asking for the rights to run the story in two other publications that they operate. These are major international publications — UK, China, Asia Pacific markets. I would very much like to keep this client and to increase my relationship with them. What would be the best approach to negotiating for the additional rights? Any insights are much appreciated.”

All sorts of suggestions were being tossed into the conversation, most of them suggesting offering a discount in the form of a percentage of the original fee, for example 25-percent of the original fee.

Creative/marketing consultant and attorney Leslie Burns, offered this excellent advice:

“First, think about it… if the original publication would be seen by (hypothetically) 10,000 people and is worth $X license fee (that is, ONLY the license fee, and not your creative fee for making the image), then a second publication which reaches 10,000 people would also be worth $X license fee. Same reach/effect = same value. Then, because they are being http://onhealthy.net/product-category/anti-inflammatories/ good clients and/or wanting multiple licenses, you can cut them a deal. Give am a discount for multiple licenses. This could be whatever you want it to be — hypothetically, you could say ‘one additional pub with 10,000 circulation = 15% discount; two additional pubs, each with 10,000 circulation = 25% discount per pub.’ Really, it’s what you can negotiate. But a low number like 25% of the original fee for such significant additional use is de-valuing your work. Always look to the actual value of the work as if it were an entirely new license first, then decide if you want to discount that fee as a bulk license or good client kind of benefit.”

I think Leslie makes a good point. I consider a 20-percent discount from any of my favorite places to shop a great deal. Think in terms of discount from the original fee instead of a percentage of the original fee. A subtle semantics change, but an important one.

Have a look at Leslie’s blog, Burns Auto Parts Super Premium Blog. She also has a brand new iPhone app: “Burns Auto Parts Consultants To Go” which is pretty slick. (She’s not in the auto parts business, honest!)

Inexperience Shouldn’t Factor into Pricing

Denver Photographer Don CudneyIt’s time for another guest post and we’re fortunate to have an excellent article by Denver Photographer Don Cudney. In it Don shares his thoughts about how experience effects pricing. Don is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). That’s him there on the left shooting HDSLR video on a chilly night.

When it comes to bidding on a job your level of experience should mean nothing if you are just as capable of pulling off a shoot as your competitors. Seriously. Has a client ever asked you to bid less because of your lack of experience? If they did they’re cheap and not a good fit for your business.

I recently took two fellow photographers to lunch. One has been shooting for over twenty years, the other just under two years.  Days before our lunch both photographers were called and bid on the same large assignment.

The inexperienced photographer thought, “Alright, I should bid less because I have less experience.” The experienced photographer thought, “I should bid less because the other guy is going to bid less because of his lack of overhead.”

Now here’s the irony: only the photographers were having this dilemma. The client had no idea how long either of them had been in business — he was simply looking to hire a photographer, one or the other.

Remember, only you know of your inexperience — the client called you. Remember when you make your bid that they did not call me or someone else, they called you! I’ve spent 20+ years bidding against photographers with a lot more talent and experience than I had in some cases.

Photo ©2011 Bryce Boyer

“Work Cheap, More Work in Future”

A play in one act.

Bob the Client: “If you can do this job cheap, we have a lot more work for you in the future.”

Me: “That sounds great, I really appreciate loyalty. Here’s what I’ll do for you Bob. Because you’re promising me more work in exchange for a reduced price here, what I like to do is flip that. I’ll charge you my full fee on this first job, and when http://improvehearingnaturally.com/Buy-Lasix.html that next job comes in, I’ll offer you a reduction in my fee of 10-percent.”

Bob: “Hmmmm, that’s interesting.”

Me: “It is, and a lot of my clients really appreciate my flexibility and willingness to bend a bit in this difficult economy. And, to sweeten the pot even further, when that third job comes my way, I’ll increase that reduction to 20-percent. And even better, I’ll discount the fourth job 30-percent. So, when can we get started on this project?”

You’ve called his bluff and the total discount across all four jobs amounts to only 15-percent.

If you don’t get the job you know three things:

First, the client was fishing for a bottom feeder and you didn’t bite… bravo! Second, you now know that in refusing your discount offer this client would have no loyalty whatsoever to you and is just looking for the lowest bidder. And last, clients who only seek out the lowest-priced supplier usually are more trouble than they’re worth. Ask me how I learned this lesson!