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Adrienne and I had a baby at the end of 2012 (ok, Adrienne did, I just kinda stood there, acting like what I was doing was somehow helpful) so, naturally, we feel like we need to get a new car to hold the extra 12 pounds-worth of human we’re now toting around with us everywhere.

But that’s a topic for another time.

As we started visiting used car lots we came across something that pissed me off. Lot after lot we visited, we’d see cars we liked but they had no price listed.

Here’s the logic, as far as I can tell – “If the sucker… I mean, used car buyer, has to talk to me about the price, I can tell them all of the benefits of the car and why they should buy it, then I’ll hit them with the price.”

In reality, it made me feel like the price isn’t actually firm and they only based it off of how much of a sucker they thought I was. Further, it set us up for quite a few embarrassing conversations after asking about cars that were way out of our price range, then having to have the “well… uhh… how about that Pinto over there” conversation.

Ultimately, it came down to setting expectations.

My expectations weren’t properly set, so I ended up being embarrassed as a customer and wasted my time and the salesperson’s time.

So what can we do, as photographers, to avoid this?

Show quality work, show why you’re perfect for your ideal client, then tell them what to expect. They’ll see your value and choose whether to pay your premium or not, saving time for both of you and potential embarrassment for them.

In other words, be CarMax.

Take Action

Set expectations from the start by including basic pricing on your website or your initial client email.

Please note, I’m not suggesting you put up a full menu of all of your product and session offerings for someone to peruse. This sets you up to just be compared on price, not on your work.

Instead, include a simple “sessions start at….” or “our typical client spends between $xxx and $xxx”.

And just like that, your client knows if you’re in their budget or not, saving you time meeting with someone who, ultimately, can’t afford you and saving them from being embarrassed.


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