Discounts for family and friends? Shed the guilt and do this instead

When you are starting your photography business, the first people who hire you will be friends, family, friends of family, family of friends and on and on. Our natural instinct is to give them a friends and family discounts since we are so thankful that they believe in us and our new passion. Does that sound familiar?

Your inner circle is an important way to get early photography jobs and they will give you all of the experience you need for working with ‘real’ clients.

For better or for worse, these people you love will also teach you what you need in your contract and what your non-negotiable boundaries will be going forward.

It can also be a source of painful ‘learning’ when you don’t bother with contracts and setting expectations. They forget to feed you at their wedding or their kids aren’t ready when you show up to their house for their family portraits.

what to price my photography

Friends and family think they are helping you out, but you feel like you aren't respected or paid as a professional when you give discounts on your photography.

I’ve been there. It’s horrible.

So, what to do? How do you work for friends and family while also getting the respect that your other clients give you?

The answer is simple, actually.

Treat them like you treat your other clients!

what to price my photography

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Years ago, I had college friends hire me for their out of town PRIME wedding date and I gave them my “old rates” since they were friends (they didn’t even know what my “new” rates were). I’ll tell ya right now, my old rates were too low, even for friends. I charged them $1850 for a full weekend wedding on the most popular wedding date of the year.

Not only did I get pissed when I found out her wedding dress cost $5,000, but it took over a year to get the last $800 out of the couple.

Both of us were left with an awkward feeling.

That’s when it all changed for me. No more friends and family deals. I fired my cousin as a ‘client’ too. It wasn’t worth my time and I wasn’t doing good work because her $50 for a nightmare family portrait session just wasn’t worth it anymore.

I’m here to save you years of headaches, miscommunication and low wages during your prime referral years.

Charge them full price, treat them like your other clients and everything will run super smoothly.

In this week’s Feisty Photographer Friday series, I outline a few ideas on how you can be very generous with friends or big spenders with your business and still earn a living as a photographer.

Eventually, this source of close-proximity referrals does dry up and so it is important to capture as much income as possible while referrals are flowing. Trust me! After 15 years as a photographer, I don’t know if my friends and family even remember that I’m a photographer.

{cue the sad face}

The early years are actually the easiest years to find clients. Be sure they are all paying full price so you don’t burn out.

Take a look at this under 10 minute video and leave me a comment on what your favorite new idea will be for your own business.

How do you build generosity into your photography pricing? Are you still working with friends and family? How’s that going for you?

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