Cheap is Expensive
In the language of photo exposures, those little letters atop your DSLR or digicam TV actually mean more than you might have ever heard. TV = Time Value.
In terms of exposure, it represents the amount of time that your shutter will remain open in relation to your F-stop, a.k.a. aperture value (AV)
But to all of us, your time value is perhaps the most valuable asset. How many times have you been on the freeway with your gas gauge nearing "Empty", thinkIng "hmm, Shell station next to the freeway?.. Likely .30 per gallon more than Costco, I'll grab a gallon now, and fill up when I'm near (YOUR CHEAPER GAS RESOURCE).
Have you ever clocked yourself from the time you pull off the freeway until you return to the freeway speed? Chances are, adding another 10 gallons would cost you one minute. At .30 per gallon, your hard financial cost would be a whopping $3.
The real cost, is the extra time it will take you to get to the cheaper gas. The expensive gas that might have cost you 12 minutes time on and off your path, plus the extra 15 min round trip to your cheaper gas = 20 minutes (rounded down to be fair)
If you make 50-100k per year, your per-minute average value is (40hrs x 52 weeks = 2080 hrs. 75k average, that equates to $36 per hr. thus .60 per minute in time)
20 minutes of your (75k average example) time x .60 per minute = $7.20
If you place any value on your time (or gas spent to get to the cheaper gas), the expensive gas was actually $4 less than the cheap gas.
Not convinced, here's an example of one of my clients experience in 2014. (paraphrased to save you time)
He calls to say "How much are your basic studio headshots?" They are currently 248.
"Why are yours this high when the guy down the road is under a hundred bucks?"
My reply: "Well I don't know who the guy down the road is, but I assure you that you won't even get into my cameraroom until I know who you are, who your ideal client is, and what your range of authentic expressions are. When you've selected your favorite image, my artist will remove every incidental imperfection..." (never mind headswaps often requested on groups where 4 of 5 are thrilled but one person blinked) "We'll chat a bit to explore..."
"Enough already, I get it. I've already been to the guy down the road, and my wife said they were horrible. I now have to pay twice!."
As with the gas example he also had the to-and-from to the studio time expense (doubled). Twice the prep time for his session, and no the doubled scheduling time.
In sum, the cost of cheap often doubles your TV investment.
Add to that, the immeasurable cost of a public image that essentially undermines your public image. We will never know how many potential clients we have lost because a microexpression turned off a #MeToo victim or other common trust issues.
Perhaps your a wealth advisor that decided that you needed a stern image to convey that you're a serious professional... (Brian laughs!...) Are you kidding?.. You work with people's money. Managing a stranger's money is one of thee most personal services there are. Trust is essential. AUTHENTICITY IS KING!!!
If your expression falsely conveys an ego or a person with a hidden agenda, your cheap headshot have just begun to cost you tens of thousands of future fees to a client who would actually love and trust who you really are.
All too often, I've looked at a price tag to tell me the cost and proven to be wrong. The cheap screwdriver sets with Phillip heads that shred while battling a tight or rusty screw.
"Spending" $7.20 worth of my time to save $3 in gas.
Cheap cars that I forgot to calculate in parts & repairs (never mind AAA and time).
Disassembly, repackaging, waiting at the customer service counter, waiting on hold for tech support, waiting on hold for customer service... You get the point.
I'm not suggesting to be frivolous with your expenses, but time and time again, I have had the honor of being the 2nd or third "attempt". To hear, "I should've just saved the money and invested a bit more the first time." after countless clients arrived saying "I take bad pictures".
I understand what they mean, but always correct them with - no worries, that's my job, and I don't!. (only playfully cheeky)
All said, my prices are nothing to fear. In fact, I'd love to double them based on what I've seen produced for the same price and higher. For now (and as long as I can afford to) I love that my clients come back, and I'm still plenty affordable to my middle-class clients.
Sure, I could make more in less time, serving only those who value their TV (or think that expensive always means better), but I'd miss out on meeting a great number of people that are on their way up!
I am not worried that I am priced too low to attract the right clientele, because the proof is in the numbers. In 2017 we saw a 38% increase in sales, with great retention of repeat work for companies. We are up another 30% in the first quarter of 2018, with bigger jobs being lined up with existing clients.
I believe that it was in a New Thought church years ago where I first learned: "If you are in a hurry and need more time, give someone else time. Let them cut in front of you on your way there."
Having done that numerous times, I always arrived in perfect time. The person I was meeting was late, or I arrived ahead of the navigation app ETA.
It was never a strategy for me to help my clients to earn more from the images I create for them, as a way for me to earn more, but it certainly hasn't hurt.
THANK YOU to those who have shared their trust, referred their friends, or let me merge into your lane of traffic. We're all in this together, so we may as well help one another along the way.
Best of success to you!