How to Avoid Lowball Offers as a Photographer

It doesn't matter what industry you work in, there are very few clients that won't try to squeeze you on your price. Here's how to spot the signs and the psychological strategy you can employ to make sure you get the amount you deserve each and every time.

The team over at The Futur are back once again with another thought-provoking video on the issue of getting low price offers from clients. This week, Chris Do shares real-life examples of clients anchoring the price and the importance of always being the first one to quote a figure. The idea of anchoring is a vital concept to understand for photographers, and the sooner you grasp how influential it is in setting the tone for any business interaction, the better.

What I like about this particular video is how Do talks about counteracting a lowball offer if you don't manage to get your figure in first. While Do's anecdote ends with a successful outcome, not all conversations will be so lucky and end positively. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it's best to try not to work for low-paying clients anyway. As long as you're sensibly anchoring your prices, you should not only be able to get what you deserve, but also be able to filter out any potential clients that aren't worth the effort in the first place.   

Lead image by Vladislav Reshetnyak via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

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10 Comments

JetCity Ninja's picture

great advice on explaining a single term in sales psychology. a useful tool but ultimately limited for those without a foundation in sales.

every photographer who intends to start a business of it could learn a lot from spending 6 months working as a commissioned salesperson, like at a car dealership. if you go in open-minded, you can learn a LOT about the psychology of sales, especially from the other side of the table. no matter how many times you've bought a car in your life, you have no idea what a good salesperson is capable of unless you've had sales training yourself. it also allows you the opportunity to put what you learn into practice.

in fact, getting a job as a salesperson in a car dealership is easy as long as you can dress the part. they'll literally take anyone and large dealerships will also train and coach you in the art of sales. you could get a position during a photographer's traditionally slow season and leave in the spring.

it'll help you not just with sales and pricing, but give you a chance to hone your approach, identify pitfalls, avoid "time wasters" and "cockroaches," learn how to cut certain people off before they become problematic (and still like you), and do it repeatedly, even many times per day on a weekend. the best is knowing that car salespeople are close to the top of the list of "most hated" people in the world, so everyone coming in is ready to fight you on price, giving you repeated opportunities to work a tough, price sensitive customer.

good advice is good advice, but except for the very few, putting it all into practice is a necessary part of the learning process. like photography, sales is about developing your own style.

you're not a contractor, like some commissioned sales agents are, so you still get a minimum wage paycheck if you don't manage to sell above the minimum. so, go sell some cars, take home a commission check and essentially get paid to learn about sales.

(i spent 2 years working as a car salesperson in Tampa, FL as i was putting myself through school after leaving the USAF. it would've helped more had i not had problems with my introverted nature, but the things i learned from a psychological perspective in manipulating people was invaluable. the more i read about photographers having issues with the business aspect of photography, especially wedding photographers, the more i realize how some time in car sales would benefit most of them.)

Michael Holst's picture

You're not really selling me on being a car salesperson.

But yes, having experience in sales would help many artists thought I find that some of the best photographers are horrible sales people and vise versa. They're completely different skills and we as people, tend to hyper-focus on what we think is important for our success.

Michael Holst's picture

Chris Do has a great YouTube channel with his creative agency.

Paul Adshead's picture

he sure does, not all videos are for us photographers but I still learn loads from his channel...

Matthias Dengler's picture

Thank you so much for that share! :)
I love that youtube channel. Just checked out some video.
And this kind of knowledge and practice is what lots of photograpehrs need, who already created a good portfolio but struggle to get into freelance.

Mick Ryan's picture

This went right over my head. Is there actually any useful advice here for photographers? Maybe becaue I have been doing it for some time I have my fees set in stone so when anyone asks I always tell them how much it costs. Can't remember doing it any other way and not sure why you would.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Yes, it is useful info, start high. It depends on the kind of clients you have and what you are shooting. There are some photo shoots that are more commodity than creativity. If you are doing the same thing with every shoot it's easy to established a fixed rate, if things are different with every shoot then at the rates will be more customized for each project. It's always hard to go back and ask for more money...

Paul Adshead's picture

At the core of the video is the concept of "price anchoring". I don't know what area of photography you are in but I'm sure you could benefit from it. Even if it's just to make those set in stone prices look even more inviting to your clients/customers.

For those who don't charge for their photography, price anchoring is still important to understand and is literally used everywhere. Just go into a shop or switch on the tv.

My favorite saying on price anchoring was: "The best way to sell a $2K watch is to place it next to a $10K one"...

Anchoring of numbers is everywhere.

Vitaliy Latanskiy's picture

thank you for the wonderful article

It really happened some person do not have the right idea. But with your awesome tips, one can easily identify it.
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