I must read the same complaints at least 5x a day on Facebook groups or conversations with my industry friends. So many people are stressed about how saturated the industry is and how there are so many people out there undercharging for their services (or shooting for free), and some people are finding it super hard to get bookings. Any poor new photographer who posts in a group saying that they are thinking of offering to shoot their first elopement for free is absolutely ripped to shreds and told that it’s because of “people like them” that other photographers are losing work to “cheaper competition”. Too many people out there are all to quick to jump at playing the victim and blaming others for their lack of bookings.
Are you tired of losing work to cheaper competition?
There’s a saying that you might have heard before when it comes to marketing. “If you are competing on price, it’s a race to the bottom”. There will always be couples out there who are looking for the cheapest price for everything for their wedding day, and a photographer is just another item to tick off their list. They don’t care who does the job, as long as it gets done. And there will always be a plethora of photographers willing to charge next-to-nothing in order to get the job.
But most of us aren’t targeting these couples with our marketing. Since you are here, I’m going to assume that you’ve spent some time working these budget weddings, you’ve built up some experience, and now you are firmly in the mid-range price category. This is one of the toughest places to be. You’ve worked hard, you know your costs and you value your time. And you’ve put up your prices to reflect this. You’ve probably learned the hard way the consequences of undercharging for your services.
So I get it. It can be really disheartening to see fresh-faced, new photographers coming in to your networks and feeling like they are undercutting you. But…
(Warning – You’re About To Get Some Tough Love!)
Your lack of bookings has nothing to do with these new photographers who are undercharging and undercutting the market. And there is no-one else to blame for this than yourself.
If everything we ever purchased was a decision based on price alone, we’d all have the cheapest things available. Nobody would buy a new iPhone when you can get a Huawei for a fraction of the price. First class and business class travel wouldn’t exist because economy class will get you there just as quickly. You see where I’m going with this?
It’s the same when it comes to someone booking you for their wedding. There are plenty of couples out there who aren’t price shoppers. So why didn’t they book you?
Have you ever thought that maybe you lost out, not because the competition was cheaper, but because you failed to communicate the value in why you are worth more? Most wedding photographers can sell you beautiful wedding photos. Of course, you’ll have some different styles to choose from, but essentially we all shoot with the same cameras and use the same presets.
What makes you different from the other photographers the couple has contacted?
Why are you worth the higher price tag?
I’ve just purchased a wedding dress. (Yes, I am already married but I want to do a vow renewal this year). I considered buying from a well-known bridal designer, I considered buying a pre-loved dress, I considered buying a cheaper generic maxi dress and I looked at handmade options on Etsy. In the end, it came down to a choice between two different designers on Etsy. Both had very similar styles and quite honestly, I probably would have been happy with either of them. One, however, was more expensive than the other. So using the logic that people will just go with the cheapest option, that’s probably what I did, right?
Of course I compared them on price at first, because most people do take price in to consideration. However when I looked at each of their offers more closely, the more expensive of them told me that “each and every dress is handmade exactly how you want it using repurposed vintage lace”, while the cheaper one simply said “handmade lace dress”.
Which one would you buy? Perhaps if you are on a budget, you’d just go with the cheaper option, but I saw the value in the more expensive one. I wanted to pay more for the dress that was “handmade just for me”.
Both companies offered handmade lace dresses, and perhaps they both used vintage lace. Maybe if I’d have asked more questions, I’d have found out that both of them created handmade dresses from vintage lace. But only one company had that message clearly on their site. That company won my business by communicating to me from the first contact the value in buying from them instead of someone else.
So now it’s your turn to sit down and do some soul-searching.
What is it that you can offer your clients that makes you more than just a wedding photographer or a filmmaker?
How will their life be better by booking you instead of someone else?