During our ongoing pricing research for fotoQuote we found that some photographers are taking a hit on prices, especially editorial. But then we hear from others who are still getting paid well.
The difficult part of our research is to determine if prices really are changing, or if the change is due to temporary pressure of the recession, something that will pass when the economy picks up again. I wrote the original fotoQuote nearly twenty years ago and we've been through a few recessions since then.
In past recessions, there was temporary pressure that did lower prices but they came back up with a better economy. That might be the case now as well. But there are other factors now too: the Getty influence, the aggression of corporate lawyers to erode rights and prices, especially in the book and editorial markets.
It isn't a good idea to lower your prices when the pressure to do so might be temporary. It will be very difficult to raise them again in the future. If you need to charge a lower price in this economy it is a better idea to keep your original prices and come up with reasons to give discounts, discounts that you stipulate in your paperwork. Make it clear to your clients that the price is a special one-time concession on your part. Getty does this all of the time.
If you would like to share experiences with us about what you are finding in the marketplace and what you think is happening please email us or use the feedback tab on the main screen of fotoQuote 6. Your feedback will make fotoQuote a better resource for the industry.
Now, to cheer you up a bit and show you that all is not lost here is some recent feedback that we have received from customers. You will also find some great resource listings below as well.
Success Story #1
First up is a California photographer who has been using fotoQuote for 15 years and attributes the success of his many five-figure stock sale negotiations to tools like fotoQuote. Here's what he shared with us.
"Last fall, your software paid off big-time. I was contacted by a Swiss ad agency putting together a large ad campaign for a Swiss bank. Using your Quote Packages, I negotiated usage of five images for a total of more than $35,000. I have experienced the "good old days" of large ad campaigns, making five figure sales to large corporations but it has been a few years since one of those came along and I didn't quite believe that that kind of money was out there any more.
Still, I was bolstered by your price guide and made a quote for a rights package that included limited print advertising, web usage, promotional email and brochures and flyers for a limited time. With a very small adjustment after my first quote, they agreed to my terms.
So, in the middle of this economy and the "stock crash," I made the largest sale of my career. The money arrived in my bank just a few days before Christmas! I wanted to share this with you to let you know that fotoQuote has made a big difference in my business and hope that it provides encouragement for other photographers."
The reason he wanted to share this information is to let photographers know that underselling yourself leads to underpayment and this feeds the downward trend of stock photo pricing. Being informed and using professional advice and tools is vital for successful business at any time, but incredibly important in these economic times.
Success Story #2
Another long term customer had this to share, "A few months ago I had a client license an image to use for conference brochures and other things. I used fotoQuote for the quote and was able to get a premium rate of $2,000. So when they came back to me two months later and wanted to know the price to use the same image for 12 months, worldwide, with exclusivity for the license time, I used fotoQuote to quote a $10,000 usage fee.
My wife said I was crazy for doing so and probably was driving away a few grand, but I stuck to my guns. The client emailed me back and said, "We'll take your deal of the century." There was no way I ever would have gotten a customer enthusiastic about licensing an image for $10,000 without having fotoQuote to fight that battle for me.”
Resources and Articles
At ASMP you will find a wonderful series of videos from their Strictly Business seminars. One in particular is about the need for good negotiation skills with a quote by Barbara Bordnick, "If you sell yourself cheap, you will never get out of that hole." Check the video out here.
The power of the word 'No' in Graig Ferguson's article "To Succeed as a Pro Photographer, Stay Focused and Learn to Say No"
More from John Harrington
"Photographers, Stop Leaving Money on the Table"
"Don't Let Your Photography Clients Sell You Short"
Deborah Kaufman shares some interesting insights on customer psychology and pricing in her article "Understanding the Art of Pricing Your Photography".
These stories and resources are reminders for us all that what we do has value. The images we have as stock or those we create on assignment are a critical element to the successful delivery of your client's message. They would not be able to communicate their message without your image, and that's worth something.