Here are a three points about money I’ve learned the hard way, in no particular order:
- ALWAYS charge a session fee. And always charge up front when making the session reservation. This means the clients are serious and aren’t going to take up half a day on your calendar and leave you hanging. Don’t just take a deposit. Take the whole thing. I’ve had plenty of deposit-leavers leave me hanging, but no session-payers have let me down yet. Taking the money upon reservation (I either send them a self-addressed envelope or shoot them a PayPal invoice) falls under the category of ’spent money is forgotten money’. So a week later when it’s time to buy photo products, they don’t feel like their bank account just took a hit and they’re free to spend on photos. And they WILL spend because they’ve already made a financial investment. Not to mention an emotional and time investment during the session.
- ALWAYS make sure that you make it clear that the deposit/prepaid fee is non-refundable. They can sign a contract (a little too formal for me) or acknowledge receipt of your confirmation email by saying that they understand the fee is non-refundable.
- When you put a client gallery up for preview, give it an expiry date. I still have clients from a year ago who haven’t ordered. Put the gallery up for 30 days and for goodness sake, WATERMARK those suckers allover the place. It’s ok to ruin the preview with a watermark and make it clear that swiping the preview is stealing.
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