"Know your worth."
"Value yourself and your work."
We creatives strive ourselves on mottoes like these. They say to attract your ideal clients; you must showcase who you want to draw.
But sometimes it's not enough, let's be honest, we have bills. January has been excruciating slow for me. I had over ten inquiries for 2019, and none of them have gone forward to finalizing the details. When this happens, you ask yourself, "Is it me?", "Is it my pricing?", "Am I offering enough?".
Recently I had a hard dose of reality, be prepared this is going to be a long post.
In December I met with a couple (Couple A) who wanted a date in April, everything went well, and I was 100% they would go with me as their wedding photographer. Weeks went by when I heard nothing from them; couple follow up emails later, I've decided to accept the loss.
A month later I met with another couple (Couple B) who was interested in the same date as the previous couple. Usually, when this happens, I would give a heads up to any of clients that there's another party who are interested in the same date. Again, because Couple A disappeared, I didn't mention them. Couple B was a little tricky, to begin with, they had a budget that wasn't near my starting price. But I figured if I quoted them the hourly rate I would be able to accommodate their needs.
I met with them and to be honest I had a very awkward vibe despite them being very sweet. Couple B asked for RAW files, which is a huge no-no, also to replace a complimentary engagement session for an extra hour or discount (their already discounted) price, and to change my editing style.
On paper, they were the epitome of what we call "not an ideal client." But they were students, and I genuinely did enjoy them, so I thought why not? I even threw in an extra 30 mins for them. Overall I was ready to send over the official proposal. Unfortunately, this meeting was in the evening, and I still had two meetings and a conference call after them. So I decided to wait until the next morning to send over the official paperwork. This is where it get's ugly, literally while I was writing their contract, I get a notification in my email that I received a retainer. Confused, I checked and Lord and behold, it's Couple A.
Because I'm in a business of a first come, first serve basis, I had to let Couple B that I wasn't available for their wedding day. I sent the following message,
Thanks for meeting with me yesterday I truly did enjoy getting to know you and your fiancé. I have some unfortunate news, as I was drawing up your proposal a couple that I met a month ago just paid their retainer for _____. I thought they were going to go with someone else until this morning. Because this is a first come, first serve basis, I won't be able to attend your wedding. I can put a word out and send you some referrals to photographers who could fit your needs. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience!"
She responded that she would've paid and signed the contract during our meeting, but neither of us caught the memo.
10 mins later I get an upset message from her fiancé. Let's just say he was very upset by the news and expressed it accordingly.
So, what did I learn?