When you first started your photography business, you were probably a lot like me — AKA, just so excited and so ready to photograph everyone that
How to Respond When Clients Say You’re Too Expensive
Okay, friend! You’ve done it — you booked a discovery call from a potential client, and you’re pumped.
Now, let’s paint the picture…
The call’s going great, you’ve done your pitch and connected well with your potential client, and then you hear the dreaded words…
“Oh, you’re too expensive for me.”
Oof. Who has been there? Because I have, a bunch of times. I’d bet you have, too — and if you haven’t yet, it’s coming. I can pretty much promise you that.
If you’re like a lot of people (and me in the past), you might instantly freeze up when you hear those words. You might start thinking of how you can lower your pricing or cut yourself short, too.
But, that’s not necessary. I promise!
I’ve got you.
First things first — it all starts with YOU.
If there’s one thing I’ve really, really learned — and that I teach my clients — it’s that pricing is so much more than just slapping a number down and seeing what sticks. First up, it needs to be strategic. Second, you need to *believe* in the number you’re charging — and that can really take a lot sometimes, especially when the imposter syndrome starts coming into play.
When you’re first really trying to define your pricing, I want you to start by getting really, really granular about it (psst… we work through this in Personal Branding Breakthrough!)
- Determine your Cost of Doing Business: How much do YOU need to live the life you want? What’s the number you need to make each month to pay your bills, have fun, and grow a business you’re proud of? Now, call that number your CODB.
- How much do you want to work?: Now, take that number you’ve decided — your CODB — and divide it by the number of shoots you want to do each month (you can do this monthly, quarterly, or even yearly). That’s your ideal number!
- Name your price — and trust your intuition. Then, commit to this price for at leaaaaast a month, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Here’s the thing: pricing doesn’t have to be forever. There have been package prices I’ve continually raised in my business, but there’s also been offers I’ve lowered the price on, too! You set the rules — no one else. And, you deserve to charge a price that allows you to live the life you want to live. You do not need to apologize for that, okay?
How to respond when a client says you’re too expensive
Once you’ve named your price and you know, deep down, that it’s right, I can almost guarantee that you’ll eventually get pushback on it. I’ve gotten pushback on my pricing multiple times, and I know I will again. That’s life as a service provider and a photographer, and it’s just the way it is!
However, these are the things I consistently fall back on, so bookmark this one when you need to remember how to respond:
1. Stop any negative self-talk in its tracks.
There’s one thing that typically always happens (to me included) when you hear the words, “you’re too expensive” — imposter syndrome rears its head, and quickly. You probably start to think things like:
- “I don’t deserve to be charging this.”
- “I know she can find someone cheaper… why don’t I just lower my rate?”
- “My rates are really expensive, and I need to lower them…”
- “I’m not qualified enough to charge this, and my client knows it.”
- “This client doesn’t think I should charge this much, so maybe I shouldn’t…”
Now, let’s stop. Stop riiiight there. The key to responding when a client says you’re too expensive is to remind yourself, first, how incredibly deserving you are of your rate. You are an artist, you are providing a service, and you deserve to be paid for it. Well.
So, if you feel the imposter syndrome coming into play, I want you to take a deep breath. Consciously, intentionally remind yourself — even if you have to refer to a sticky note you’ve written yourself before calls — that you’re not charging these numbers for no reason. You’ve decided on them for a legitimate reason, and you’ve got this.
2. Acknowledge it, but don’t back down from it.
Next up, it’s okay to acknowledge that your pricing is expensive. Being comfortable with the fact that your pricing is expensive is important — and it doesn’t mean you’re too expensive. It means that your service is worth it, and that means that your client really needs to understand this, too.
Here are a couple of terms I’ve used in the past:
- “Yes, I totally understand my pricing is expensive! However, I’m really proud of the work I do — and my clients always are, too.”
- “I totally understand! Personal branding photography is definitely an investment — but it can completely transform your bottom line.”
(Psst, I have you covered with an email template you can use in this exact situation! Download it here.)
And, you may very well be met with a response from someone that’s understanding, but they’re still not feelin’ it — AKA, someone who still may ask you for a discount.
Here’s the thing: when you discount your service, you’re discounting your own work… and the work that you’ve done for full-paying clients. While there may be some unique situations from time to time that you’ll want to discount, 99% of the time you won’t want to.
If someone asks for a discount, it’s important to respond and make that really clear.
Here are a few more examples for you:
- “I don’t offer discounts, as it wouldn’t be fair to clients who have paid me full price in the past.”
- “I actually don’t discount my services, as the number I charge is really intentional.”
- “I don’t discount my shoots!” (Simple. 🙂 )
3. Remind your potential client (and yourself) of your value.
Now, when push comes to shove, there’s one thing that backs up your pricing more than anything else — and that’s the value that you offer. I’m huge on making sure my clients understand the value of working with a personal brand photographer… and, here’s the thing: if your client is reaching out to you, they inherently understand the value of what you do.
A little reminder is sometimes necessary (to yourself included), but definitely trust that they *do* know you’re great at your job. This is why I love consistently educating clients, sharing content about personal branding, and being prepared to speak about it at all times. You’ve got this… now hold to that.
I want to leave you with this: if potential clients think you’re too expensive, you’re doing something right. I promise. And, working with clients who value you — and your pricing — makes all of the difference.