How to get clients to take you seriously, even when you’re young (WARNING: tough love ahead)

 

Have you struggled with getting people to take your business and prices seriously? Perhaps even due to your young age?

I started my photography business officially and professionally when I was 20 years old.

I too felt nervous about people not taking me and my business seriously because of my age.

I remember not putting my age or many details about myself online, and avoiding telling people the fact that I was still in college.

The truth is though that it has little to do with your age, and more about how seriously you take yourself and your business.

Here's my list of what you can do so clients will to take you and your pricing seriously:

1) Practice what you preach

  • Have a high quality, professional head shot, on your website and social media accounts
  • You can't expect clients to invest in high quality photos, when it's clear you haven't either (would you go to a stylist with bad hair?)
  • Your head shot also gives a first impression of you, so make sure it's friendly and professional
  • Even my employees have professional head shots that they use on their facebook pages and on our website at www.mollymariephoto.com/about
  • If you're a boudoir photographer, that doesn't make it ok for your profile photo to be a boudoir photo (keep it professional!)

2) Take your business and yourself seriously

  • If you want others to take you seriously then you need to take yourself seriously and act accordingly (for more details keep reading)
  • If you want others to take YOUR BUSINESS seriously, then you need to take your business seriously and act accordingly (for more details keep reading)
  • Have systems in place for your business so you can take it seriously and be consistent

3) Dress and present yourself professionally

  • If you want people to see you as a professional then you need to dress professionally (first impressions do matter)
  • When I first started I had the most JUNKY car of all time and I didn't want people judging my success or professionalism on my car. So if I was meeting with a client I would park it further away so they wouldn't see it. This may sound extreme but it helped me until I was able to get a professional ride.
  • ALWAYS present yourself professionally by being early to any appointment
  • Be organized and ready for the meeting or photo shoot

4) Have a professional online presence

  • If you add clients on facebook make sure your facebook is 100% professional. No posting negative things!, make your website easy to find in your profile (and make sure the link actually leads to your facebook page), don't list any info that you wouldn't want a stranger to know, and if you don't want people to judge you on your age then take your age off of facebook and social media entirely.
  • Have a professional email signature
  • DO NOT have an auto email responder unless you're away for days at a time for vacation or business and if that is the case be sure to write “Thank you for getting in touch! I'll be out of the office this date-this date. However, I will return your message as soon as I return on ____(this date)___. Thank you!”  DO NOT say “I'm in hawaii having the time of my life – wee!” They don't need to know where you are, be professional and to the point. If you currently have an auto responder that includes an excuse as to why they have to wait more then 24 hours to get a reply from you, fix that RIGHT NOW! That is not professional and not how you're going to get others to take you seriously.
  • Have set business hours posted online if you want people to take your business hours seriously – and stick to them!
  • Have a professional facebook page and social media presence. Make sure they're cohesive and the posts are professional! NO posting of anything negative, no yelling at people”BOOK NOW!!!!”, no complaining about taxes, etc. If you want to be taken as a professional then act like one, even online.

5) Stop treating your business like a discount

If you want to make a living off of your business then you need to charge accordingly
If you want high end clients then you need to make sure your business comes off that way. (would you spend $900 on a purse you bought from a home party show that took place in your own home or a cheap hotel OR would you spend $900 on a purse from a high end boutique store, with complimentary champagne, and amazing customer service?)
If you want people to stop asking for discounts or trying to barter with you then don't give discounts or barter. If you put your foot down enough times word will get around and you will not be viewed as that person. It's been YEARS since I've even had one person try to haggle me in an in person sales session.

6) Use professional language 

  • This is really important especially for boudoir!
  • When photographing a client know what's ok and not ok to say to him/her / ex) you can tell her she's gorgeous and the photos look great but don't say “ok now for this pose, act like you want it” or “look at me like you look at your hubby” See how weird and wrong that sounds?! But I have heard boudoir photographers talk like this to their clients!! Personally I'll be the first person to say that is not professional and not ok! You can convey sexy images without turning your session into something dirty, be professional if you want to be looked at in that light and maintain a professional reputation.

7) …and lastly, if you want to be seen as a real business then you actually need to be a REAL BUSINESS

  • Get your business license through your state
  • Figure out what type of business you should be so you can protect your assets
  • Hire an accountant to help you with your taxes
  • Have REAL photography contracts from a real lawyer (not copied from friends, pieced together, and hoping they'd hold up)
  • Get the business insurance you need, SO IMPORTANT! (not just for your “stuff” but for client safety as well)

Even when I was 20 years old I made sure to do these things. I took myself and my business VERY seriously. In return people treated me as such and always said things to me like “How are you only 20? You're so professional and mature.” You see, when you present yourself as such, age doesn't matter.

If you're wanting to get your business legal, have a consistent and professional workflow, get more clients, higher sales, and clients who take you and your prices seriously and you want to make sure you're doing it all correctly then you need to check this out.

My friend Rachel Brenke, who is a lawyer, photographer, and a successful entrepreneur is inviting you to personally learn from her during her online “Business Revamp” course.

 

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Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.