Never Undervalue Your Work

Happy Tuesday everyone. You made it past the toughest day of the week and you are now full steam ahead. Today I am going to touch base of how to avoid undervaluing your work. That doesn't mean I am going to tell you what prices to charge, but how to not undervalue it. 

Undervaluing your work is something that happens to content providers all the time. There are many reasons for this though. The prime reason you may think that your work is priced too expensive. This doesn't mean that your work is too expensive, this may mean that it's because you don't know your market well enough or that your possible consumer doesn't understand the value of the work. 

Another reason that people charge what they do is that they feel they won't get any work if they charge what they feel is right. Take for example wedding photography. On average most professional photographers are going to charge no less than $2000 for wedding coverage. Yes, I know that any day of the week you can go online and find a wedding photographer that does weddings for $500-$1000. So what are you to do? Do you think that your work and time is more valuable than $1000, and if so why would you lower your prices down that much? This is a pitfall as a content provider that you have to be aware of. It's perfectly fine that there are photographers and videographers that are more cost effective than you. 

But they get all the work! While that may be a fact that they book more clients, does that mean their work is better than yours? I will tell you as a photographer that when I see other content providers charging $1000 for a full day wedding, rehearsal, and engagement photos I don't consider those people competition to my business. It's not an ego thing, it's a perspective thing. I know what my time and work is worth and I am not trying to compete to Craigslist photographers. 

Let's look at some math for a moment to better understand what I mean. If you normally charge $3000 for a wedding (which is more than fair) and the Craigslist photographer charges $1000 for the "same" coverage, that means they would have to do three times the amount of weddings than you to be able to achieve the same rate. 

Something to stop worrying about in the content creating industry is what everyone else is doing as well. Too many times we get wrapped up in what others are doing and charging. While yes you need to know your competition, you need to know yourself before ever worrying about the competition. Once you do that you will be much better off and in a much better place to succeed. There is plenty of competition out there, so if you sit around wondering what they are doing and how they are landing jobs, then you are not spending enough time concentrating on your own business and how you will get those clients you want!

Print Pricing time. Yes it's the elephant in the room for photographers. Everyone wants to know what the appropriate pricing for prints is. There is no set price structure for this, sorry to disappoint you. I believe that there are different ways of pricing different subject matter. I wouldn't bill a client the same price for prints of a commercial product and a portrait even if it's an 8x10. Yes some think that each size should have a flat price no matter what the subject matter is. We do a lot of Motorsports Photography and for that, the pricing is different than it is for other subject matter and that's because I know my market. 8x10's no matter what the subject matter is should never be less than $20 for just the print. You can gradually work up from there. 

A point that really steams me is the following...STOP GIVING YOUR WORK AWAY!! Every time you give work away (unless for a specific reason) you devalue your work. Do not fall for the photo credit or the it's great for the portfolio. Those two reasons that are given certainly don't pay your bills do they. TV, Magazine, etc all have budgets and paid employees. They have advertisers that pay them as well. They don't work for free and certainly shouldn't expect your work for free. This doesn't mean that you should tell a magazine that it cost $10,000 for one of your photos, even though that can happen. Be reasonable and fair, but don't just say yeah have it. Anytime you give something away, the same people will come back for more expecting the same thing again and again. 

Lastly, I want to address something that many are scared of because it tends to upset people. The one thing that I want you to think about is protecting your work. In the digital world that we live in, there are too many chances for others to take your hard work and make money off of it. When I say make money off it, that comes in different forms. If someone prints your work without paying you, they are making money off you. If they alter your work and sell it, they are making money off you. If someone uses your work  for advertising purposes without your permission is making money off you. You as a content provider cannot be afraid to protect your work. That means you can't be afraid to watermark it and you certainly can't be afraid to take legal action against someone for violating your rights. The reason that there are federal laws is to protect you, so don't be afraid to use it. 

There you have a general overview of avoiding the traps involved with undervaluing work.