How many times have you received an email or phone call from a prospect which you really want to work for, but are not sure how to bid on the project? Maybe you are paralyzed because you don’t want to lose the awesome opportunity.
If you are new to this blog, I recommend you start here — pricing photography 2018. This is one of my most popular posts and contains a lot of information related to pricing your photography. Yes, I will have a 2019 version next year.
Before you quote your best price you must to ask a few questions. Trust me, communication cures the fear. The more questions you ask the better. Little details can make a big difference in how you approach a new assignment. Below are seven questions I recommend you ask every time.
- Use the of the photographs? The first question is always; how do you plan to use the photographs? This question kickstarts the conversation and tends to answer many basic questions you need to properly estimate the job. The answers give you a sense of the clients needs, wants, and requirements. For example, a family portrait has a different value compared to a 100 billboard marketing campaign.
- How many photographs do you need? I quote using per image pricing ninety percent of the time. So, this question is very important to help me estimate how much to charge per photo. The difference between creating one photograph over an entire day or making twenty images during an eight-hour period makes a big difference.
- Do you have a specific budget range? It’s a good question to ask, although, you may not get an answer. However, it doesn’t hurt to try. After I’ve asked enough questions I may ask if they are comfortable with a specific rate range. At least it gives me a clue or an opportunity to further the conversation.
- Are you quoting other photographers? This is another question you may not get the answer to, however, in some cases the answer gives you a clue as to what they are looking for in a photographer.
- What are your expectations for this project? Asking questions about the clients vision for the project is important. What do they expect to receive when the photography assignment is complete? What are their expectations on the set? How do they wish to receive the image prints, digital download or CD (old school)? This questions help you gain insight, open new doors and opportunity to ask more valuable questions. I like to ask, at the end of this project what do you expect before you pay the invoice.
- Portfolio Photographs. Ask which photographs did they like in your portfolio. Are any of the photographs in my portfolio similar to the images you wish for me to create? The answer to this question helps you understand the production level, as well as, expectations of the client.
- What is the deadline? It’s important to know the timeline of the client project. This includes when is the quote due, what days they want to photograph and when the client needs the images in hand. I’ve noticed clients tend to call photographers back after they meet or beat deadlines.
Once you ask your questions, don’t immediately give your prospect a quote. Take some time to review and digest the information you received. Request the opportunity to call them back after you email the estimate. It’s best to email the estimate after you have the client on the phone again – Even better, deliver it in person. This way you have a better chance to address any objections.
Before you hang up the phone, be sure you have their full name, company info, phone number, website and email. I’m guilty of not always asking for all their information and at times I’ve been burned. Following through and asking for basic information is a best business practice in any industry. Make sure to take the time to check out their website. The images they display gives you a clue as to the experience the prospect has working with photographers. Also, how much they value photography and how often they need new photographs (repeat business).
Remember, if you are not comfortable creating the images the client asks of you, refer the job to a photographer you trust. Consider asking for a referral fee, it will help to build a two way business relationship and you will get at least something out of the deal.
The truth is all photographers run into road blocks when quoting a job. I certainly do. No two clients are the same. Some agencies will think you are too cheap, while other companies will never consider paying such an expensive rate for the same assignment. You will win and lose great opportunities. However, if you ask the right questions, your odds of winning Increase.