Photography Marketing & Selling Secret #13 – Always Have A Pre-Paid Creation Fee

Not Having A Pre-Paid Creation Fee For Your Portrait Services Is Exactly Like Burning Money - Huge Mistake!

Not Having A Pre-Paid Creation Fee For Your Portrait Services Is Exactly Like Burning Money – Huge Mistake!

Why is it so important to have a pre-paid, separate fee for you creating the photographs?  The answer is that this way, you are charging for your extremely valuable TALENT & TIME.

One of the biggest mistakes I see photographers making around the world today is that they do not have a separate, prepaid “Creation Fee” for their portrait services. The problem with this is that it teaches the prospect/client right from the very beginning of the relationship that your time & talent has no value. And this perception, once put in the client’s mind, will influence all her decisions from that moment ….   forward, including how she treats you and respects (or does not respect) you.

I’ve been charging a separate, pre-paid “Creation Fee” for almost my entire photography career. It’s amazingly powerful in creating a high perceived value of my photography services. I highly recommend it.

Now, you may be asking the question, “Why must it be prepaid, Chuck?”

1. It reserves her photography time – which again shows clearly that your time is valuable, and you’re extremely busy, successful and in demand.

2. If you’re having cash flow issues, it certainly helps to get some money up front. (When I was just getting going, 40 years ago, this pre-paid fee allowed me to buy the film I was going to be using for the photography session – things were really tight back then!)

3. This ends once and for all the pain of having people NOT show up for their photo session appointment.  Why? Because they PAID for this time – so they darn well are going to be there – in fact – they’ll show up EARLY! (Back before I was doing this – it used to DRIVE ME NUTS when I would get all ready for a photo session, and the person wouldn’t show up!)

By the way, there’s another great benefit to doing business this way – and that is every time you raise your fees, you ALSO raise the Creation Fee – this way, you always know which price schedule a client is on – because of the pre-paid creation fee she paid. This is really helpful when you’re raising your prices at least twice a year, as I recommend.

So, if you’re not doing business this way, start now! If it scares you for some reason, simply start with a really low pre-paid Creation Fee – maybe $50 or something. This way, it won’t have all that much of an effect on your business, but will get you started doing business this way, and from this moment forward, you’ll be on the right path.

You may be wondering how I present this policy to my prospects in such a way that they go ahead and book with me, even though so many of the other photographers in the area don’t have this fee (big mistake!)

So here’s what I say at the in-person meeting I have with my prospects on a separate day before the photography:

(I obviously do not do this right away. It’s done after asking many questions of the prospect, building the relationship & trust, and finding out exactly what she wants.)

“Before we go any further, let me give you an indication of how much you can plan on investing, is that okay?

(Wait for her to say ok.)

“First, we have a Pre-Paid Creation Fee. It is $XX and it is prepaid to cover the planning & creating of the images. It does not go toward the finished portraits – it’s a separate fee. But it’s the best $XX you’ll ever invest, because it allows us to take the time to do it right.

“Then, once the images are created, you come back in to view your images, and you can do anything you like. For example, the one over the sofa there – that size is $XX …..” (and I go on and volunteer the investment for the different sizes – without using the actual dimensions of the images, of course.)

This works really well.

If you’re not doing this – do it NOW – you’ll be VERY happy with the results! I’m living proof of it, and I also have “students” and members all over the world who are doing business like this – and loving it. It makes a huge difference in your business.

Last point: don’t call it a “sitting fee” – call it a “Creation Fee” – much more artistic, and calls attention to the value of your creativity.

All the best,

Charles J. Lewis, M. Photog., Cr.

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to Photography Marketing & Selling Secret #13 – Always Have A Pre-Paid Creation Fee

  1. Dylan Gardea
    February 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing this info.

    • February 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Thanks Dylan, glad you enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply to Dylan Gardea Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Creativity International / Charles Lewis Photography PO Box 848, Ada, MI 49301 | 616-868-0373