If you’ve looked at any number of photographer’s investment pages I bet you’ve seen the term “time and talent” on many occasions. I’m not going to mince words here….I hate that phrase.
A. Your “time and talent” is worth a heck of a lot more than a few hundred bucks.
B. “Time and talent” does nothing to build value for your service or desire for your product. We want to get our potential clients excited about an experience…not telling them they need to pay us for our time and talent!
Now, what’s the purpose of the session fee? It’s to ensure that your client is truly interested in the experience, ensures that they show up, and goes towards our cost of doing business.
From our client’s perspective, with a regular session fee they get nothing. Of course, we understand that this fee goes towards our cost of doing business….but our client doesn’t, and I don’t think that it leaves a good impression if we try to explain this to them.
Let me ask you this….do you think that removing the session fee would remove a conscious or even sub-conscious objection that potential clients have when doing business with you? Do you think that it would take away some of the risk of ‘what if I don’t like any of the images?’.
I’ve conducted a little experiment this year and I’ve really liked it. I got rid of my session fee!
I still FIRMLY believe that an exchange of cold hard cash needs to happen before any session is held…otherwise you risk doing a bunch of work for someone that wasn’t really serious about purchasing anything. Why can’t that cold hard cash that’s exchanged be applied to something? Why can’t it be a Reservation Retainer that becomes a product credit after the session?
I chose to make my reservation retainer $500 because that is my bare minimum sale where I’m not LOSING money to photograph the session. You can make it whatever you like. It’s only $50 for my Artisan Session (like a mini-session – more on that next week.)
That Reservation Retainer becomes a product credit for both sessions! Clients have loved this and I have seen an increase in conversions. Why? I believe it’s because my clients feel like all of the money that they are spending is going to go to something tangible that they get to keep.
Now the KEY to this strategy is that you need to make sure that your products are priced CORRECTLY. Remember, PPA recommends that your Cost of Goods Sold is no more than 25%, so items should roughly be marked up 4x. There are some exceptions, so check out these articles if you need help with your pricing: