Communicating Your Value as a Creative

Updated: May 5, 2021

Communicating your value with clients is not always easy, especially for creatives. Many of you have been there before, working with those clients who will choose to work with another creative professional because they are "more affordable" and offer modified services.

It's easy to fall into the comparison trap, and so many creatives experience this at different points in their careers. While the initial instinct may be to feel down or frustrated, it's actually a great reminder that there is a need for every single photographer.

We all offer different variations of photography services, and some people need us, and other people need someone else.

When we recognize and lean into our strengths instead of trying to be the perfect fit for every client, we enhance the value of our services tremendously.

It's important that you remember your value. You undervalue yourself when you:

  • Undersell your skill set

  • Offer more value than what the client is willing to pay

  • Sell yourself short

How to Manage Discounts, Trade Work, and Working for Free

When you do decide to give a client a discount, shoot for trade, or shoot for free, make sure that you are over-communicating what those services are worth and what you would normally be charging, so that you set the expectation that not every shoot will be free, cheap, or for trade.

The language around how you frame this is important as well. Instead of saying something like, “I am giving you this shoot for free”, try to use language like:

“I invest in my clients in this way to build confidence and rapport in me and my services; to lower the bar of entry and show you what great looks like.”

You’re not selling a client on a service, you are selling them on what is possible for them! If you’re giving a client free or discounted work, make sure you send them an invoice anyway so that they can see what your services are worth.

How to Set Creative Work Boundaries

If a client is being resistant to what you’re asking for to make the shoot happen, whether it be your rate or the time you need to do everything they need, consider giving clients an action plan.

You can take 10 minutes to put together a PDF that outlines the timeline for success, that shows how, where, and when you intend to make their shoot happen, and the breakdown of the costs necessary, with some examples of past work to prove the validity of your ask.

Remember to be fair, have boundaries, and always under promise and over deliver.

Knowing Your Value for Retainer Clients

When it comes to converting a one time client to a client on retainer, showing the client what could be possible for them if they work with you regularly is crucial. Building a great relationship with the client is just the start. Here are a few value propositions you can supplement the upsell with:

  • Working with you on retainer gives your clients priority access to schedule their projects.

  • When a client retains your services, you are working with them regularly, and once one project is done, you are already planning and working on the next one, so there is a consistent stream and flow of content and progress.

  • When a client retains your services, they are (hopefully) paying the premium to have access to you consistently; phone calls, emails, etc., which means that you are in the weeds with them in their business making the magic happen.

  • Working with a client on retainer gives you the ability to truly understand their sales, marketing, and business goals so that you can create the right content to see those goals through.

Master Knowing Your Worth

It's normal for every creative to go through a time where they question their value. Knowing your worth is all about understanding what your strengths are and how much you offer, while also managing boundaries and sometimes working in discounts. It can be a bit of an art to master, so it takes some time to get it just right. You've got this, so don't doubt your worth!

Interested in connecting with individuals who share experiences like this with you? Our community at Creativity Built is a great support system. Join our collective today.

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