by Gray Graham
I recently ran across a post on Facebook where a photographer was sharing a meme about how people should treat a photographer. It had the usual requests such as being treated with respect etc. The one that stuck out for me is please make sure to pay me.
One of the first things you learn when consulting small businesses is that many small business owners are not really in business. Sure some may have an office, they have clients, they spend money, they may even make money and may even have employees but they are not really in business.
The one thing that most people miss when it comes to be in business is having a purpose. A lot of businesses are nothing more than an expensive hobby. Many artists such as photographers, fashion designers, and bakers fall into this category. See everyone can take a picture and bake a cake so that means everyone is a photographer and a chef.
This is the struggle a lot of creatives have when it comes to having a business. They enjoy what they do so much that they never take the time to learn to operate that as a business. It is hard for them to be the mean guy because they are always fearful that means someone will not like them.
There have been many times as a photographer where I have worked with a client with a written contract and after the fact they wanted to re-negotiate the terms of our agreement. Much to their surprise those requests were rejected and they received the service I promised to deliver.
This is no different than I would treat any of my business clients. The only difference is that photographers have a representation of being people that you can get to cave. Many photographers are introverts and they are just happy someone is paying them, so they often get taken advantage because they have not had basic business training and many resist the very idea.
This is why I often see posts from creatives that complain about not getting properly paid for their services. They mistakenly believe that attorneys, accountants, doctors, teachers, contractors, and anyone else that works for a living are not presented with the same objections when it is time to pay their bills. There is a reason why collections is an entire industry. The difference is that other fields demand to be paid, creatives don't.
So if you are in business and you feel like you need to convince your customers to respect your work and pay you for your services you need to sit down and revisit your original business plan. Look at the reasons you got into your business in the first place. Decide if you have achieved any of your goals. Think about any changes and adjustments you can make to improve your business. Last decide if you truly need to stay in business and it is the best thing for you.
Now I know many of you have never actually done a business plan. If you have one it was probably done by someone else who followed a standard form. This may be why you are not being fulfilled and are wanting more than what you have achieved.
Just remember that just because you are doing something that you enjoy and love does not mean that you are not supposed to be paid for your hard work. If anything this means that you should be paid more.