This has been heavy on my heart 😔for months and I debated sharing it with you. I don’t want to put anyone off or sound ungrateful and I don’t want to come across as money hungry or rude. It’s a fine line as a business owner when it comes to what to charge family and friends and a very hot topic among us entrepreneurs. We question each other a lot trying to find the right balance for ourselves.
I have given my services away for free many times. So many times. And in the moment, I was happy to do it because we were friends or family, and it can work if you feel appreciated. Some would still give a small gift of appreciation🌯 and some would just offer 👍and of course there were those that just snuck a couple Benjamins 💵 into my bag with a thank you card. To those of you, thank you for valuing me, my time, my skills, etc and understanding that I am running this business to support my family of 5……4 small humans, me, and then our 4 furry family members.
Then there are the bad experiences. 😭The ones that make you feel the need to define who qualifies as a friend and family discount. They have little to no respect for your business and are often hammering you about getting their free photos. These are the ones that expect to take priority over the paying clients because they “have known you for so many years.”
And these friends even make you doubt your worth along the ride because if your friend doesn’t value you and include you when your an industry professional, why would a stranger? Wait…..am I pro? Why did she hire me? She didn’t pay me anything and only offered after I wrote a blog post explaining my order of completion. Yet she knows that I am a single parent hustling to make it in this business to support my family….man, are we friends? Did she really just go on vacation🏝 and buy a boat⛵? And yet nothing here.
Do I sound bitter? 😒Probably. And maybe I am wrong for that, but you wouldn’t go to target and say you want a cart full of stuff for free because you’ve been a fan of the store for years. How is that business more important than mine? If anything, I would hope to be treated better than target as a small, local business that gives back to the community.
It’s a pickle🥒!!! And because of some bad experiences and that incredibly bad experience of shooting a wedding for a friend that turns out isn’t really my friend but rather a long time acquaintance that treated me more like free vendor than a well meaning friend, that I took advice of another photographer and was going to make a hard line and say no more friends and family. I had decided to refer out for most sessions and I think that is probably where I will stay.
But wait!!! Ugh the debate in my head/heart continues, today I was reminded by a friend… a long time friend 😉 of how amazing it feels to be valued and to give. It was a simple request,”…let me know what I owe for the sitting fee.” 💗I had promised no charge when we first talked about these photos and I wasn’t going to change that. And as much as I could use the financial bump, the emotional and mental bump from feeling valued was what I really needed.
So where does that leave things? Good question!!! I don’t know. I have some freebie shoots in the works with my cousin that will be giving birth soon and I am excited for those…..I love birth sessions, but never get to do them lately. So on one hand it is a session for me, but also my family has made me feel appreciated by offering to pay and understanding that their photos may take a back seat to the $3600 Wedding I shot last weekend.
I guess it puts me here…..I charge full price to friends and family unless I deam it to be a special circumstance and know that they will treat me well.
I guess in the end, it’s about knowing your self worth and demanding to be valued in one way or another.
What do you think? Leave me some feedback and tell me what you think I should do.