Let’s face it, chatting about money and profit can feel a bit taboo. But I’m going to cut to the chase because at the end of the day, you’re working a business, not running a charity (unless of course, you are running a charity..in which case, disregard) but the conversation about money needs to happen and it should be happening between you and your clients in the beginning stages of the booking process. When you share your pricing information with your client, you should also be open about your payment policies. I was hesitant to collect money up front at first, I admit. I worried that clients wouldn’t want to pay for my talent and services BEFORE receiving my talent and services. However, once I began collecting deposits upon booking, it immediately felt right and despite all of my worrying, no one batted an eye at my request for a deposit upon booking. Still hesitant to make the jump to collecting deposits? Allow me to persuade you.
- Collecting a deposit upon booking breaks up the investment for your client. Say, for instance, that you charge $600 for a session. $600 is an awfully large chunk of money to spend at one time but if you require half up front to reserve their session and the remaining half the day of the session, the investment won’t feel so hefty. Remember that you’re the boss so you can make the rules and break it up as much as you want. You could even require (on a $600 session) a $200 deposit to reserve their session time, a $200 payment the date of the session, and a final $200 payment before you deliver their gallery. Make it work for you, but remember, collecting payments in smaller increments will be helpful to your clients.
- Before I collected deposits, I always worried that clients would cancel their session at the last minute and that I would not only be out my time, but I’d also be out the money that we had originally agreed upon..money that I had planned on and had budgeted for both my business and my livelihood. Collecting deposits eliminates this worry because your clients will have some ‘skin in the game’ so to speak and therefore, will be less apt to cancel at the last minute and far more likely to reschedule instead. It’s also helpful to do this as it keeps your income more steady throughout the year. Here in the Midwest, outdoor photography is seasonal and my busiest time of the year is always October-December. By collecting deposits when clients book, I have money flowing into my business all year round vs just when I’m shooting. Just another added bonus!
- Frankly, collecting a deposit adds a level of professionalism to your business. It shows that you’re organized and thinking ahead. It shows that you value the ‘business’ side of your business and by corresponding closely with your clients through the deposit process, it also shows more of your amazing personality and builds a level of trust between you and your client long before their session even begins.
- Since collecting a deposit shows that you’re professional and that they trust you as their hired photographer, enrich the experience by sending a session guide or a ‘what happens next’ brochure once you’ve received their deposit. This way, your client will feel like they’re getting a part of the session experience before their session begins and you’re proving to them that you’re invested in them and their session as well. When I receive a deposit, I email out a session guide that gives information pertinent to the type of session that they booked (newborn, family, etc) and I always let them know that inbetween them sending their deposit and seeing me on their session day, the door is open for them to reach out with questions or to chat about wardrobe inspo and anything in between!
Long gone are the days of booking a session and crossing our fingers in hopes that we not only get to shoot the session when it comes, but that we are compensated for our time and talent as well. Making this seemingly small change to your business will have huge impacts on the professionalism and vitality of your business. You’ve got this-I’m cheering for you!