How to Raise Your Prices Without Losing Clients

Raising your prices will not only keep your bank manager happy, but it will also help to accelerate your career. Time to add a few more zeros to your next photography invoice.

The team over at The Futur is back once again with another motivating video on the topic of raising prices with clients. This week, Chris Do has teamed up with business coach Joel Pilger to help guide illustrator Maryia Bulka through the challenges of raising the amount she charges for her work.

The video starts with Bulka expressing her fear of losing clients as a result of increasing her prices. This is a very universal fear which many of us creatives have, and business coach Pilger explains how it's best to focus on increasing your rates on newer clients rather than existing ones. He then goes on to stress how we should be positioning ourselves as experts rather than a service provider and how that shift in mindset can dramatically help when it comes to the conversation of money. 

While this 13-minute video is helping out someone in the world of illustration, the tips and tricks both Pilger and Do suggest are just as relevant for photographers to use. I really love the suggestion of being busy as the excuse to repeat clients for upping the rate and how imagining yourself fighting on someone else's behalf can actually help when it comes to negotiating for yourself. This video is well worth a bookmark and a regular revisit to remind us how best to up rates with new and existing clients. I know we'd all rather just concentrate on taking nice pictures, but if you neglect things like rates you'll probably find yourself going out of business or that your career isn't where you wanted it to be a few years down the line.

Lead image by Burst via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

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4 Comments

Jeff Morris's picture

Basically, here's Joel's advice:

1) Charge your existing rate to existing customers, but charge a continually higher rate to new customers.

Let's hope your customers never talk to each other!

2) Lie to your customers and tell them you are charging more because you're charging a rush charge, or working on the weekend, or bringing in contractors to help out.

Lying is never an appropriate business practice, jackass.

3) Do you really love working with a particular client? Play hard to get.

Um. Okay. So more lying. Got it.

At least Joel is coming from a more positive, honest viewpoint.

Dave F's picture

I feel like their advice is almost there, it just needs a little fine tuning, specifically in the areas you mentioned. It wouldn't take much to make what they're saying meet a higher standard though. For example, when you say:

"1) Charge your existing rate to existing customers, but charge a continually higher rate to new customers.

Let's hope your customers never talk to each other!"

Or, go ahead and raise the price for the new customer. Then use the same price on an estimate for an existing customer, just add a line item discount for being a "frequent flyer" or something. That way you're still raising your prices for your new client, you're still keeping the old price for the old client, AND you're doing it in a way that is not only not lying, but gives your existing customer VIP treatment. Problem solved.

"2) Lie to your customers and tell them you are charging more because you're charging a rush charge, or working on the weekend, or bringing in contractors to help out."

Or, find a way to make that statement true. Just because you don't have another client lined up doesn't mean you can't have another PROJECT lined up. Shooting personal projects & trade can be just as important as client work, especially if it's something that can further your professional opportunities down the line. If you tell a client you have another project you're working on, they're not going to ask, "well is it a PAYING project?" They're just going to assume you've got things lined up. And really, if you're self-employed and you're NOT busy all the time, don't you think you might be doing something wrong? I'm actually not sure why this WOULDN'T be true.

Definitely fair questions given the way they presented their points, but easily answered I think.

Alex Harris's picture

Paul, thanks a lot for posting. This is priceless, man!

Paul Parker's picture

Very welcome Alex, glad you found it of some use. : )