Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from photographer Leela Cyd. In addition to photographing food, travel, interiors, and portraits for clients around the world, Leela teaches photography workshops in Italy, as well as offer tips and tricks for shooting on Apartment Therapy. Today Leela shares some of her knowledge on how to correctly and fairly price your work. Thank you, Leela, for offering your expert advice today! —Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump…
1) GET A MANTRA
Mine is stolen right from this most amazing video I’ve ever seen, Mike Monteiro’s talk shot at Creative Mornings in San Francisco: “Fuck You. Pay Me.”. WATCH THIS VIDEO NOW!!! Say the mantra every day. It’s so good and so relevant, all about having the appropriate contracts in place before you get f$@#ed. Also in line with this mantra, I think of a great quote my dad always said: “I’ll trade my work for your check!”
2) ESTIMATE FEES
When you set your rate/estimate for a job, you should gasp at the price (a little) and click send. You can always negotiate down, and I do a lot – but you gotta start at the high side of your comfort zone!
3) DON’T GET CRAZED ABOUT COMPETITION
There’s enough work for all of us — no one is reinventing the wheel here, do your share and do that work! Send positive energy to those who you feel are your competitors, there’s something in their work that you aspire and connect to, the good vibes will come back around. Comparative thoughts are so draining and do not help you access your own creativity.
4) LOSE THE EGO ONCE YOU GOT THE JOB
You gotta put that ego into hyper drive to get the job, fluff the feathers, have the portfolio site looking hot, but the minute you get the job, step back, lose the ego, be a person who digs in and praises the teammates around you. And don’t be afraid or surprised if you have to go back re-shoot, revise, refine — you’re already getting paid a comfortable rate because of that sexy contract you dialed in and gasped over! Expect to work for it! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back for a better shot or even turned around and had to get on the plane again (on my own dime) because I didn’t quite nail it the first time. It’s OK to have to work to get it right. That’s what a professional does – solves that problem.
5) PICK UP CRUMBS FROM THOSE FARTHER DOWN THE CAREER PATH
Speaking of losing the ego, pick up the crumbs from the bigger fish, be the right person at the right time! I’ve had a few significant jobs come my way because someone better (and more expensive) backed out at the last moment — that’s OK! I’m so grateful for one photographer in particular who I keep catching jobs from that he turns down — pivotal career moves have been made because he was too busy! YES!
6) ASK YOUR HEROES TO WORK WITH YOU.
Dreaming of collaborating with your heroes? ASK THEM! Pick up the phone and show them your idea and how you could partner. When you dream big and show this person you are the right fit, it’s pretty intense! But when it works (and it’s been working for me…holy wow), it’s unbelievable. To stand among your heroes in art, design, writing, activism and help to create something together, it doesn’t get any better. Goosebumps!
7) DIFFERENT PRICES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS
Have different price points for different types of client. How bad do I want to work with them, how big a fish are they? Everyone gets a different rate — flexibility is key to making everyone happy. Some jobs I do for the big money others I do for the curiosity, place they may take me and what I might learn. Growing is critical to keeping this work thing interesting. And each potential client/partner has a different budget in mind.
8) ENTER CONTESTS
It sounds so hokey, but I entered a ton of concert-ticket-contests by calling my local radio station as a teenager. I saw some of the best live music of my life courtesy of my winning phone call. I haven’t stopped trying for outrageous contests related to my work, best travel photo in National Geographic or AFAR, PDN young photographers contest, local paper travel section contests, win a trip to Italy to learn more about wine and artisan foods, etc. Sure, sometimes these don’t go anywhere, but every now and again I win. Then folks are exposed to my “winning story” and think “Hey she’s neat!” And a little serendipity makes life fun and silly and full of possibilities. And clients love to work with ladies who are winning contests right and left, globe trotting, pumping out legit contracts and working their asses off! It’s a package deal.
9) GET YOUR HUSTLE ON
You’ve got to have that manic drive that just makes you put the work in, just one step in front of the other and keep showing up. Just like other jobs, when it’s work time it’s WORK TIME. A million hour days, grueling turn around of images, retouching, pumping it out while simultaneously pitching (and being turned down a lot) and working any relevant connections and possibilities and then continually following up on the million “maybe” threads rolling. It’s not for the low energy and shy of spirit. You’ve got to have a lot of hustle, enthusiasm and, most importantly, support (thanks husband and mom and dad!!)
10) HONE YOUR CONTRACT AFTER EACH JOB
Not if, but WHEN, new curve balls come up, get those written out for the next job. I never learn from the easy/comfortable jobs what crazy thing could be thrown at me. It’s the shoots that go hard, that get wild, that really make me cry on the drive home. I’m grateful for this sometimes insanity because it helps me hone my contract ever tighter for the next big thing. The only way out or up is through these tough jobs!!