When I first started my photography business 14 years ago, I charged $50 for all the images of an hour and a half photoshoot. All.The.Images. Not just the good ones or just most of them. All. Of. Them. Do you know how many images can fit on a memory card? Let me tell you. A lot! My pricing was a mess.
It wasn’t until two years into shooting where I actually looked at my numbers. I somehow adopted this “starving artist” badge of honor. I think it came from a society that conditions us to believe there is pride in creating, but you shouldn’t charge for it. #lies
But here’s what I know to be true—we can’t shine our light if we can’t keep the lights on.
When we’re pricing too low we’re avoiding a no, but we may also be cutting off the yes.
When we undercharge sometimes the “yes people” perceive the value as too low—and no matter how low you go, there will always be someone who thinks it’s “too much.”
Contrary, there will always be people who believe what you’re charging is “too high.” It has nothing to do with you or your work, but rather their perceptions.
It’s a zero-sum game when we let others decide our pricing.
Pricing comes back to perceived value.
It’s our job to convey the benefits, enjoyment, and the value of our pricing — but it’s not our job to decide who spends their money on what.
I had some clients who struggled financially, but saved for two years to invest with me. I had other clients who had an abundance of wealth and purchased very little.
We don’t get to choose what people spend their money on, but we do get to share with them why our service can add to their lives.
What we need to do is have the emotional intelligence to know when we get a “no” it’s simply making space for the “yes.”
When we get a “no”—it’s okay because we are not for everyone —we are only for our people.
Here are a few ways we can decide on pricing that feels good and supports our financial success:
- Decide on what you feel is an accurate exchange for the value of your work. Side note: Do NOT confuse your self worth with your net worth. Do not confuse the price for your work with the intrinsic value of you as a human. Those are completely different things.
- The more specific you are, the more value you can demand from the market. There is only one of you—own that! Your creative lens in the world is your edge!
- Get comfortable with saying no and with the idea that you are not for everyone. Identifying who your dream clients are and having the courage to say not to sales that aren’t coming from those people is far more powerful in the long run.
- Know your numbers. What do you actually need to make in order to have your doors open? Do you pay for Internet? Supplies? Gear? Are you accounting for your time to create? Account for all of your expenses, don’t keep your head in the sand.
- Build relationships and happy clients. Connection is everything and happy clients come from being an exact match of what you can provide and what they desire—knowing who will not be happy is also important and takes courage to allow them to walk away.
- Be in alignment with what you offer! Your thoughts, beliefs and actions all must line up in order for you to create your best work — do you actually love what you’re doing or did someone tell you you should do it? If you don’t love it that vibe shines through and your people can feel it! Love your work, and if you don’t, change it.
Create Your Financial Success
Today, as I have left my full-time photography business in order to help and serve other creative entrepreneurs create their own success, I have to say pricing and money is one of the main areas we focus on because so many of us have twisted up money stories.
Without exploring our beliefs about money it can feel like things are always a struggle and we don’t know why.
When we start to see the reason why we are getting the results we’re getting, we can make the tiny changes necessary to create the wealth over a lifetime we desire.
In order to create our financial success through our creative businesses we must own and celebrate our talent, have the courage to go our own way, and design our pricing around our creative value in a way that feels good to us.
When we do this we craft a life and business by our own design, ultimately creating a win-win by serving our perfect people and being financially compensated for our creative work in the world.
Ready to reframe your thoughts on money? Get our Money Mindset Guide here.