Before I jump into my biggest mistakes this wedding season, I want to say that this was my most successful wedding season. Every month I had at least two weddings and I have weddings booked until March of next year. However, I still made some big mistakes that cost me a lot of money and almost a friendship.
1. My first mistake was not charging enough for my wedding packages. I was crippled by the fear of rejection for saying the price I wanted, so I caved every time. Most of the weddings I charged half as much as I should have, which means I left a lot of money on the table. Leaving money on the table is frustrating, but it gets worse. When you are under paid and it comes time to edit the 1500 photos you have, your motivation will be gone. At that point you feel like you are working for free, so you rush to get them done. Its not fair to the client to get photos that are just rushed through and since word of mouth is your most valuable marketing tool, you have to deliver a superior product. It’s the constant dilemma of I want the job, so I don’t want to scare them off with the price. How do we over come that dilemma? The answer for me was to just let them go if they can’t afford me. I have invested a significant amount of money in gear and a significant amount of time learning, so that I can offer a quality product. Here is what it boils down to, you have to charge according to what you are worth, not by what they can afford. Think about when you purchased your camera, the manufacturer didn’t find out what you could afford when selecting their price point. They set the price at what the camera is worth and you need to do the same with your product. Don’t be afraid to let them go, don’t be afraid to charge what your worth. There is nothing wrong with offering a small discount to family and friends and that will lead to my next mistake.
2.I was contacted by a friend to shoot their daughters wedding and the first thing they said was “things are tight.” I should have walked at that point, I doubt they told the venue things are tight. For the sake of getting the job I quoted them over 50% off and didn’t go any lower than that. We had our first consultation and it was an awkward meeting, filled with drama. That was sign number two that I should have walked, but they were friends. After that meeting I expected to get my deposit, instead they walked me out side and explained that they had no more money and wanted to pay after the wedding (sign #3). I reluctantly agreed. The wedding was beautiful and everyone had a great time. I was told I would have my first payment in three days. Fast forward one month, I never received a payment and I have a bride wanting her photos. I explained to her that I never received payment and she showed up that weekend with half of the amount and wanted pictures. I was hesitant about giving them to her, but the check had a note stating when I would receive my next payment. If wasn’t her fault that I hadn’t been paid, but now I had no leverage. The date came and went to receive the next payment and we can now fast forward another month. I begin to contact them, but get no response. Thankfully this does have a happy ending. I finally made contact with them and they paid in full, but it took three months for that to happen.
Lets talk about how to avoid these mistakes.
1. Charge what you are worth and don’t be afraid to walk. I know it can be hard but working for less than you’re worth is harder.
2. Get contracts and get them signed even from friends. When a friend calls wanting your service they are now a potential client, treat them like one. Remember that friendship works both ways, and just because you’re friends it doesn’t mean they can take advantage of you. They need to sign a contract just like everyone else and that contract can have a payment plan. If you want info on contracts look no further than thelawtog.com. She offers just about every contract you can think of. Remember that contracts protect you and your client. I make a small commission on any purchases, so thanks in advance!
3. If you have a smart phone or tablet get a credit card reader. There are multiple options like paypal.com and square. Both are free, but they do have a small fee with each transaction. I have both of these readers and could have taken a credit card to avoid the headache. I didn’t want to see them go into debt, but as a business owner that’s not my problem. I don’t mean to sound cold, but again did any other vendor cater to their finical situation?
These three simple tips would have saved me a lot of headache and I would have been money ahead. When you find yourself working for less than you’re worth it can suck your motivation, and you need motivation when it comes to editing 1500 photos. I started to dislike the editing process because in my mind I had used up the money made on the wedding day and I was working for free on the edits. Don’t let that happen to you, charge what you’re worth and you will enjoy what you do.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
“Make the world your canvas”