“You are entitled to as much as you make yourself worth.” Douglas Kirkland spoke these words at an APA event I attended in the early 80’s. Right then and there I realized how powerful that statement was and I’ve been applying this credo to my business negotiations ever since. It’s a great mindset.
I keep this statement in mind when I set fees for services rendered, prices for prints (and other lab products) and when I negotiate with vendors:
Number 1: Fees and Prices. It’s important to know the intended use (or uses) for your work. This important step can easily overlooked when negotiating, what with the excitement of being asked if you’re available for a project and all that that entails. There is no good excuse for not asking this question. Practice if you must but develop the habit of asking, “I’m flattered at being considered for your next project, please tell me what would you like to use my work for.” Their answer will have a profound impact on the fee. I charge based on the licensing usage, the length of time the license runs and my expertise.
My expertise is this: I deliver results. I deliver high-quality images every job. I don’t settle for good enough. This approach drives up my value in the marketplace. I am an expert, I honor my commitments and I deliver quality results every time, regardless of project circumstances. I’m a detail oriented person. I work with vendors who perform their services or make their products to the same high standard. These are areas I’ve refined to a degree that makes me (more often than not) the most expensive provider on a project and yet I often get the job. In the back of my mind I know what it costs me to live every month. I query my network of friends in the business to ask them how they would price a job similar to the one I’m quoting. I go to trade shows, read books and articles to appreciate how others price their work. I take all this into account and come up with a number that sounds right for me and how I view myself as a working pro. A bit intuitive sometimes but I am a creative type.
Lastly I put my price through the grind test. If I can do the job without grinding my teeth and muttering under my breath, than I have structured the correct price for me to do the job with a smile on my face and a light in my heart. If I believe I’ll be a grinding my teeth, than I need to rethink my fee for the job at hand. I suppose one can characterize this an aggressive business tactic but you’re in the business to thrive, not survive.
“You are entitled to as much as you make yourself worth.” Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Kirkland.
Part 2 coming soon……