Boy, I did start something, didn’t I?
You may recall, the discussion free or not free was posted and it’s picked up a lot of heat in the LinkedIn photography groups. I think it’s all been said and I just posted this response in the busiest group with about 260 comments, Professional Photography. This is my personal opinion on free and reflects what I have seen that works over the many years I have been in this business. I look at life not just from a business perspective but acknowledge that we are all people and must help each other. We do need to assist the next generation of newbies to rise to the top. For many reasons – for our financial future and the future of photography and because it’s the right thing to do.
Here’s the run down on free:
- New and emerging photographers have to look at free in a different way than long term professional photographers. Your opinion about free and barter deals can and should change over time.
- Free is OK as long as you get something back. From feeling good to connections to future opportunities to barter deal. Free gives you plenty of options and then it’s not really free.
- Free is a viable option to lure customers in and turn them into paying ones. I just posted an entry about this from my vacation.
- Working for free commercially only works if it’s part of a larger strategy and not a one-time thing.
- Work for free now and we’ll book you in the future generally never works. These are the people you need to stay away from.
- Discounts are given on repeat bookings. The first job is not a repeat booking!
- Giving back and donating your services to causes you believe in is vital to your mental, emotional and personal well being. Everyone I know who gives back is generously rewarded in other ways and simply happier. There is nothing wrong to make giving part of your business strategy because powerful people give back and you want to meet them.
- Play free right and you can get a ton of publicity for free that you would otherwise have to pay for.
Etiquette in discussion groups is important. What you mean often does not translate into the written word. Respect for someone else’ opinion and an open mind can and should be expected from a professional group.
Take what has been said, especially if it contradicts your personal opinion and really LOOK if there is something that you can learn from it. I look at these discussions as mini masterminds where you are in the hot seat with your issue and you get bombarded by smart minds that challenge your position. This is what this is all about. Scrutinize your position and learn. If a contradictory strategy works for your competitor perhaps there is a nugget in there for you. Your goal should always be to make your time investment into a discussion to give you back at least one great idea. There is no point in talking to other photographers (versus you investing that time to talk to clients) unless you are willing to learn and implement.
At the end of the day, the battle is not here but out there in the market place. Thank you all for your passionate comments and feedback. I think there is plenty food for thought. And especially many thanks to those of you who display opinion and respect.