Into every creative's life a demanding client will fall. Many creatives have a hard time drawing a line in the sand when it comes to working with demanding clients, which is why your fee and business should be structured in such a way that you ...

 

Stop Being Taken Advantage of by Demanding Clients and more...



Stop Being Taken Advantage of by Demanding Clients

Into every creative's life a demanding client will fall.  Many creatives have a hard time drawing a line in the sand when it comes to working with demanding clients, which is why your fee and business should be structured in such a way that you anticipate every client will eventually become a demanding client.  The more you anticipate and practice responding to requests outside of your agreement, the easier it becomes.

The demanding client lifecycle generally looks something like this:
1. Client negotiates with Creative for reduced rate
2. Creative agrees based on something Creative thinks they'll gain from working with Client
3. While Creative is engaged in work, Client makes little requests here and there
4. Creative agrees to little requests, because they are at first easy to accommodate
5. Client turns little requests into big demands on Creative
6. Creative feels stuck because they have previously honored little requests without additional fees, and haven't implemented a structure for being compensated for additional requests
7. Client gets frustrated and more demanding that Creative is becoming less responsive
8. Creative gets frustrated that Client is becoming more demanding
9. Client thinks Creative is a flake and unprofessional
10. Creative thinks Client is evil and inconsiderate

If you take steps early enough in the process, a client may never reach the point of being considered a demanding client.


Here are the solutions to avoid clients becoming demanding at every step of the process:

- Don't agree to work for any less than full rate. It is far better to charge full rate, and have the opportunity to do a tricky job over again, than to work for a reduced rate with a client who expects full rate service.

- Have a written agreement for exactly what is delivered and how it is delivered.  This needs to make it blatantly clear to the client what is being delivered in what time frame and how many revisions will be allowed on work.

- Prepare client expectations that additional requests have a working fee attached.  By anticipating that the client WILL make requests above and beyond the work you have contracted for, you can be prepared by offering either an hourly rate for additional requests, or a revision rate.

- Notify client immediately when their requests fall outside of original agreement.  As SOON as a client makes a request that falls outside of your agreement, the client needs to know and be presented with options for moving forward.

At any point in the process, I suggest using this wording with a client to address additional requests:
 "This request will require additional time and expense that weren't planned into the original quote.  I've included an invoice to cover the time and expense to honor this request.  If you'd like to add any additional requests at this time, please let me know so that I can be even more efficient in addressing additional requests."

Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over a decade of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
      
 
 

Networking Tips on the Click Cartel Podcast

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of getting to know Christian Grattan in advance of his Click Cartel Podcast being released to the public.  He asked me if I'd share some tips for starting photographers, and I have to say he was GREAT at asking all the right questions of digging into the nitty gritty of business details on networking and sales.  That is definitely one of the benefits of being interviewed by someone in the same industry, and even in the same market, because they already know the challenges and can really dig into how other people overcome them.  It was a great show, and I probably reveal way too much for my own good... but I think I can leave the world a better place knowing that this will absolutely, most definitely, help someone else strengthen their own business.  Check it out now on his blog, and subscribe to all the podcast episodes on iTunes...

Visit the Click Cartel Site:
http://www.theclickcartel.com/podcast/episode-7-anne-ruthmann/

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/click-cartel-photography-business/id1092895769




      
 
 

Cost to Start Photography Business

I've previously shared what the recurring overhead costs of a photography business can be, but many people want to know what the investment would look like if they started from scratch, so here's a breakdown of costs I would expect someone starting a photography business to incur...

Liability Protection: $600- $800
This usually includes $1-3million of liability insurance to work on-location for events, portraits, and commercial assignments.  Some venues require a certificate of insurance before you are allowed to enter the building with photography equipment of any kind.

Photographic Equipment: $4000 - $9000
In order to be a professional, you can't just have one camera, because if that one camera fails on the job, than you've lost the rest of the job you showed up to do, so every professional needs two working cameras for every job.  There are a lot of other things you also need duplicates of as well: backup batteries x2, extra memory cards x2, backup lighting x2, additional lenses to cover a variety of focal lengths.

Computer Equipment: $2000
While it's tempting to cheap out or hack a computer together, most professionals find that they need a well designed machine that is optimized for processing speed and large storage transfers.  On top of that, there are usually hundreds of gigabytes of photos taken each year which also need backup drives, and perhaps even online cloud storage solutions in order to make sure that images are safe even when drives fail.

Software: $400
Most photographers use Lightroom and/or Photoshop to process their images, along with several other softwares to manage their accounting and/or customer service.  You may also want a website, custom domain name, hosting, etc.

Accountant: $400
While you can do accounting on your own, you will come out much further ahead in many different ways if you have a professional relationship with an accountant who helps keep your business on good financial and tax grounding.

Accessories: $500
A camera bag to protect your gear and help you travel with it safely, a random new lighting accessory, a reflector, light stands and umbrellas for your flash, or other items you may need beyond the basics.

Education: $2000
While this could be an optional expense because there are many free resources like this lovely blog available to help beginning photographers, I find that people who are in the first few years of a photography business tend to spend a lot on education.  Even if they went to school for photography, they quickly realize that there are many more things to learn and understand in the real world that weren't exactly taught or relevant in their university setting.

While everyone's initial costs can be vastly different based on the rate that they acquire equipment before they start a business, this provides a guide for those who want to be prepared and plan ahead.

This brings the initial investment total to somewhere between $7900 - $15,100... and the recurring annual expenses may be closer to around $16,000 before taking a salary from your business.  If you take out a loan to purchase equipment in the first year- remember that many of your initial jobs will simply go to paying back the cost of investing in your business.  This is also why many people do photography part-time while working other jobs.  If you have a solid business structure and profit margin, you should make enough in your first two years to pay back your initial investment so that you can start seeing a profit in your second or third year, even if you work part time.  Otherwise, photography will be a very expensive hobby until you cross that profitable threshold in your business and finance management.

That being said, you don't need all of this equipment to begin building a portfolio of work that you create for yourself before taking clients, and you don't have to invest in everything at once.  In fact, its best to create a portfolio and expand your creativity with equipment that you already have, and then add equipment needs slowly and only as necessary.  Your eye should be able to make a great images that people want to purchase regardless of what equipment you use.  However, if you're planning to charge someone else to create images for them, backup equipment and liability insurance will be part of the professional expectations.

Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over 10 years of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
      
 
 

Do I Need To Be On Snapchat?

Every time a new fad social media thing comes on to the market, we all have to ask the question, is this something good for me and my business?

The questions I always start with are:
1. Are my current clients using it and inviting their friends to join?
2. How is it currently being used to add value to my clients?
3. Is it aligned with how I want to present my work to others?
4. How effective are you on the other social media channels you're already using?

Right now, the people I see joining snapchat are my colleagues, but not my clients.  Photographers tend to be early adopters and heavy social media users, so that makes sense.  Does this mean clients will follow?  Maybe, but also maybe not.

We thought they'd follow to Twitter, but Twitter has remained quite a B2B environment with most people using twitter for spot news, PR releases, and brief public announcements or questions among other B2B users and marketers.

Did they follow to Instagram?  Only a few here and there- mostly photographers and clients who were already visual artists or business owners at some level and had enough visual content and loveliness that they wanted to share and see from others.

Facebook & LinkedIN are still the two most frequently used social networking sites by people who have jobs and purchasing power.  How are you leveraging those networks- where there's already active engagement for business and professional use?  If you aren't leveraging those networks, how is adding another one going to be any different?

More noise in more places does not equate to more business or more success.  If you aren't already "killing it" and attracting new clients through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, or YouTube, than you definitely do not need to be using SnapChat for your business or personal life.  Feel free to prove me wrong and then create your own success story of how you landed new clients on snapchat to share with everyone here on this blog.  I love a good success story!

Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over 10 years of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems. Stay in touch on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.



      
 
 

Why $300 Should Be A Professional Photography Minimum

I've run the numbers from here to the moon on what it takes to operate as a professional photographer for myself in multiple areas of the world, as well as for dozens of other photographer owners who've consulted with me, and one thing remains the same no matter how the numbers are crunched... it never makes sense to take a gig/job/headshot/portrait for less than $300.

The biggest reason for this bottom line is to make sure you've covered your costs, backup, insurance, and fail-safe options that allow you to operate as a professional, no matter what life throws at you.

For example, let's say a photographer charges $200 for a portrait shoot and they've collected half up front upon booking the shoot, but two days before the shoot, their apartment is robbed and camera equipment is gone.  The insurance deductible to replace everything is $500, but the photographer's credit cards are maxed out, and they were counting on this portrait shoot to provide a little cushion to get by.  The client can't reschedule their shoot because they need the images for a conference presentation in two days.  The photographer doesn't want to disappoint the client, so they need a back-up solution, and fast!!

The photographer figures they can use computers at the local library for processing images and uploading, but since the camera and lenses are in some thief's car trunk, they have to rent a kit to be delivered the next day.  How much will that cost?  About $240 for a very basic kit without any additional lighting, which is $40 more than the client is even paying for that $200 shoot!  On top of that, the photographer needs to pay for mileage, parking, and the online services to help make that shoot happen.  That $200 shoot may also have included all of the files as well, so there won't even be additional sales on the back-end to help pay the insurance deductible to replace equipment.  The price point has created a no-win situation for the photographer who can't operate as a professional and a disappointing situation for the client who counted on the professional they hired.

When creatives charge less than it takes to even RENT the gear needed to do the job, it puts the creative business in an UNPROFESSIONAL position of not being able to serve a client who has expected professional service.  When not charging enough to have easy access to backup equipment, is almost better to not charge anything at all, because at least then it won't attract the expectations that come with being a professional.  Once money is exchanged, a professional exchange is also assumed.

Now yes, there is always an exception.  For example, photographing 4 Rental Property Shoots for $75 each in one day with minimal post-production, which still ends up at $300 for one day of work.  Or doing 10 mini sessions at 15min each for $50 each in the same time and location, with the same amount of post-production as it would normally take for one $500 session.  Most often the frequent exception to the $300 minimum is in the case of guaranteed volume within the same day.

There is one more exception for the advanced professional - those who are really great with post-shoot sales can consistently take a $0 - $200 booking fee and turn it into an average of $1200 in revenue during a sales process after the shoot, with plenty of sales acumen to make up for a client who walks out and pays $0.  When a creative knows how to generate more revenue after a shoot, even when the starting price is low, they are also probably operating a business in such a way that they're already covered for emergency situations from previous sales.  However, this is not the case for most people who are in the under $300 category.

Now, when I wrote about this bottom line in another group, someone mentioned that they thought this would be considered industry "price fixing".  There always is and always will be room for discount pricing, sales, specials, and portfolio building individuals who charge less than a professional rate.  It's impossible to fix prices in an industry with millions of independent sellers.  However, it shouldn't deter individuals from establishing what would be considered a professional pricing strategy.

Being a professional means operating under the professional expectations of delivering your service and product no matter what life throws at you.  If you can't afford to rent all of the gear you need with the price that you charge, than it's time to take another look at your pricing and consider what it would cost to operate professionally in the face of unplanned circumstances.

Take Action: Know your rental options and costs in advance by pricing out a rental package that would be needed if everything you needed to do your job was stolen.  Below are some of the most popular national photographic rental companies: 

Lens Pro To Go
Based in Concord, MA

Borrow Lenses
Based in San Fransisco, CA & Boston, MA

Adorama Rentals
Based in New York, NY

Please take a moment to share this information with others to help inform the general public about what it takes to operate as a professional photographer so that together we can raise the expectations of what being a professional means in the photography industry.

Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over 12 years of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

      
 
 
 
   
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