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When friends and family say your photography prices are too expensive

A video about what to do when people think your photography costs too much

It doesn’t matter how much you cost there will always be people who reckon your photography prices are too expensive. This can trigger defensiveness and frustration at the best of times but when it’s your friends and family those feelings are a little more complicated, aren’t they?

Whether they say the actual words or not it’s easy to figure out when your friends and family think you’re too expensive. Their eyes might widen when you mention your prices or they might do that loud sucking the air in through their mouths thing. If they’re closer to you then they might even mention it to you thinking they have your best interests at heart. You know, ‘Do you think maybe you’re a little too expensive for people in this area?’

Or less subtle loved ones might laugh out loud and call you crazy for thinking people might pay your insane prices for some measly photographs. Others might be kinder and say things like, ‘I would love to be able to afford you but I can’t’.

Regardless of how they decide to let you know - you know. And it can feel all kinds of crap.

In this video I'm going to help you deal with it quickly and painlessly so you can get back to your happy place!

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Some of you won’t understand the topic of this video. Some of you will truly not care whether loved ones think you’re charging too much. Maybe you used to care but you’ve now arrived at this stage where you don’t anymore. That’s where I am now. But it’s possible that you never cared about this. You’re kind of lucky by the way. And you can probably stop watching this video now because it doesn’t apply to you.

The simple fact is that most creative professionals care about this. They care about it a lot. They care about it way too much.

This video is not going to help you to care less. Only time can do that and I promise time does take care of it. But it is hopefully going to help you to equip yourself to handle these situations well in the meantime and deal with the feelings quickly so that you can move on and get back to work growing your business.

So a loved one makes it clear that they think you charge too much. Why does it feel so bad?

Well it feels bad because you’re very emotionally attached to your work. You care about what you do and you do it well but it feels like they’re questioning your skill, your product, your service. Literally everything that you put into your business is being belittled.

You feel that they’re misunderstanding what goes into what you do and they’re undervaluing you as a photographer and a business person.

But more than anything you worry that they’re right. That’s really it, isn’t it? They’ve highlighted something that you worry about all the time. Something you question in your own head on a weekly basis. Who am I to have these prices? I’m not good enough to charge this.

It’s like when you think you’re putting on weight and you’re paranoid about it and then a friend or family member actually mentions it. They’ve voiced the thing that you’re prickly about anyway, the thing you’re already giving yourself a hard time about anyway. And that’s why it feels sooooooo bad. Because secretly you were hoping that no one else was thinking it. That no one else was aware. But now you know for a fact that they are and it feels pretty horrible.

This feeling only goes away when you finally realise that you are good enough to charge more and you deserve to. When you’re so confident about this that it doesn’t actually matter to you what others think.

Until then you’ll have to deal with that thing that creeps up inside you every time you realise someone thinks you charge too much.

That thing called ‘defensiveness’. It’s pretty unpleasant and ugly and it never does anyone any good.

You know, the defensiveness that makes you want to over-explain why you charge what you charge. How much training goes into this. How much your gear costs. How your service is very high end and personalised. How you need to make a living and put food on the table.

Oh god have I been there! I used to do this. I used to go into defensive overdrive every single time anyone displayed shock at my pricing. And believe me this happened even when I was NOT expensive.

I even posted about it to my Facebook page a few times in the early days. I wanted people to understand what it actually took to make a living from photography. I wanted them to ‘get it’.

If that’s where you are right now then that’s ok. What’s not ok is to stay there for a long time. If you still feel all defensive and prickly about this stuff after three years in business then it’s time to have a long look in the mirror and a very stern chat with yourself.

It’s very easy to get defensive and prickly. It’s not so easy to take stock and step into that person’s shoes.

Just because they think you’re too expensive doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. They just don’t understand it. They wouldn’t pay that kind of money for photography and they probably don’t have their own business so they don’t fully understand that either.

Now I want you to try to think of something that you wouldn’t pay over the odds for. Even better, do you have a friend or acquaintance who charges prices for their services or products that you wouldn’t pay?

I do. I have a friend who owns a hair salon in my town and I don’t go there. I don’t go there because it’s too expensive for me. It’s the most expensive salon in the town and I’m sure it’s wonderful. But I don’t go there because, to me, it wouldn’t be worth it. I don’t really value with the whole ‘luxury salon experience’. My friend knows this because we’ve talked about it. She has never tried to over-explain a single thing about why she charges what she charges. She simply says,

‘Julie, you are not my ideal client.'

She’s glad to repel me with her prices. Why would she want someone like me in her salon who grudges paying her prices and doesn’t value the experience she’s trying to provide?

What about you? When was the last time you said that something was too expensive or not worth the money? And if it was your friend or family member behind that something - would that make you think differently? Of course not - you’d still think it was too expensive because you don’t value it! You might be polite and not actually say the words out loud to them but they’ll know by your face when the topic comes up or by the very fact that you’ve never hired them. You don’t have to say the words for your thoughts to be obvious.

This is the first step to getting over your negative feelings about all of this. Think of the things in life that you undervalue. Whether it’s the quote you got for painting and decorating your living room or the prices your local framer quoted you to frame your clients’ photographs. We all undervalue the skills of others every single day. Every time you question a price, that’s what you’re doing. You do it because you don’t know what their costs are. You don’t know the type of client they’re trying to attract. You don’t know how many years experience they have. You don’t know what training they’ve had. You don’t know their personal circumstances. You’re ignorant about it and you don’t value it enough.

Don’t tell me you’re never guilty of this 😉

When you realise that you’re just as bad as the person who’s judging you and your prices - it makes it way easier to get over it.

But let’s not forget the reason that they think you’re far too expensive. It’s the same reason that my friend doesn’t let the fact that I think she’s too expensive bother her.

They are not your ideal client.

And that is all you need to think.

Swallow that defensiveness back down. Don’t let yourself toss it around in your head for days feeling bad about it all.

If they think you’re too expensive it just means they are not in your target market and what they think simply doesn’t matter to you and your business.

Even better - congratulate yourself. You’re clearly repelling the wrong fit clients with your pricing. That’s a win. That makes way for all the right fit clients who value what you do so well.

So that’s what to think - what about what to do?

Because sometimes they might have actually said the words to you. And you have to have a response, right?

Well I think your response should depend on the situation and the person and how they’ve said this to you.

For example, if your dad tells you gently that he’s worried your prices are too high for people in the area then he’s most likely doing this from a place of love and concern for you.

When someone comes at it from this angle they’re usually open to having conversation about it. I would urge you to arm yourself with what to say. Take a deep breath and get rid of any defensiveness and then go about explaining who you’re trying to reach with your service and your prices and why. Ask them what they value - what they would pay over the odds for - and when they give you an example, explain to them that there are people out there who feel that way about photography and that’s who you are trying to work with. Maybe even point them in the direction of a podcast episode or a blog post on the subject of value and ideal clients. Maybe even share a link to this video with them.

But leave it there. Don’t jump down their throats about what you need to earn and how much blood, sweat and tears you’ve lost trying to learn your craft. We’re all in the same boat when it comes to that stuff. You’re no different to most.

But what about those friends and family members who scathingly tell you you’re far too expensive with shock and horror and judgement all over their faces?

Well you can play right into their hands if you want to. You can jump straight onto your high horse with your over-explanations. But like I say, you’re just playing right into their hands and you’re going to replay that over and over again wishing you’d said this and that and this. And they’re going to leave the conversation thinking they are still right.

Or… you can smile sweetly and say,

‘I’m so glad you think I’m too expensive. You’re the opposite of my ideal client so it’s great to know that my pricing and marketing is working.’

Done. The conversation is over and I’m going to bet that you don’t replay it too many times in your head.

So that’s my advice.

  1. Remember that you are guilty of undervaluing others too

  2. Swallow down that defensiveness that rears it’s ugly head

  3. Be prepared with what to say

It’s not a cure. But it will help. And before long, you’ll realise that you actually don’t care anymore who thinks you’re too expensive because you’ll have reached that magical point when you finally know that you’re worth it.

But don’t forget that if you are going to increase your prices and be more expensive - your marketing and business skill have to up to scratch. And that is another thing I can help you with. If you’re in this for the long haul and willing to put in the time and effort it takes to grow a successful photography business then check out the Togs in Business membership. It’s by application only and we’d love to hear from you!

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