Creating Business Plans: Why So Hard?

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Artists beware! By far, the most difficult areas in creating successful and agreeable business plans have to do with working within proposed budgets and agreeing upon realistic time constraints. Typically, from my experience in providing the service of wedding photography, there are many hidden hours working on projects where clients typically underestimate processing time, skill level, and time spent in correspondence with them. I worry about my client accepting the cost of what it takes to pull together a top-notch product.

For instance, if I had a set of photographs on hand for a project and showed the pictures to a client prior to writing up a business plan, in many cases, the client would want me to throw in the photographs as a bonus. But, if the client had to purchase these photographs online for on average $300 each at Getty Images (that is, if I didn’t happen to have them on hand), my client would probably agree to pay the price. Then again, if the client knows that I will take the images on location for them, the price would be expected to go down to as low as $10 each. Yet, would I not deserve a fair marketable price per photograph? Since photography is second nature to me; my clients can easily think I am ripping them off due to the ease I have acquired with the camera. This is the type of issue that is very difficult to emotionally deal with.

Finding out what the fair market value is for artistic services (other than photographs) can be very misleading and stupefies most people (including myself at times). The varying talents of each artist vary and are difficult to price and compare.

To be honest, I think designers are easy targets for dishonest people. From my experience as a wedding photographer (a 20 year whirlwind), I have been verbally muscled around too much! I learned that I had to work with a pre-set pricelist of the cost of every facet of my business. Otherwise, the customer assumed all extra services were FREE. Not only this, but many people tried to “sweet talk” me into lowering prices by minimizing my efforts and costs while maximizing their financial challenges. So unfair! But, what was worse than that was the occasional disgruntled attitude (buyer’s remorse) after a shoot. This aspect is ugly and if a designer or photographer is not careful, the clientele can beat them down to the point of burning out of the business. When this occurs, it’s not “buyers beware, ” rather it should be “artists beware!” (revise 2/14/2006)

Debbie Jensen
Graphic Designer and Photographer


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