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Just starting my business, I thought, the way to get started is to do things as cheaply as possible so that I get a whole lot of customers!  Right?!?

Not really.  While I did get some jobs from the “start up special” that I ran, and they did provide me some experience, I now find that I am getting referrals based solely on price and not on ability or style.  Even though my “special” is now over, I’m still getting offers from people to do me a “favor” by letting me shoot them so that I can expand my portfolio (for free, of course!).  I’ve also gotten requests to copy another, more expensive photographer’s style (they didn’t really want to spend that much on photos, so came to me hoping that I could just copy the photographer they really wanted).

Do I want more business?  YES.  Do I want to sacrifice my name/brand/time/money just for the sake of getting new business?  No.

I may be still developing my style and individuality, but it is just that – individual.  I want people to hire me for me.  Would you go to a Chinese restaurant when you are in the mood for Italian?  Probably not.  I think the same thing applies here.

My friend Leeann told me to be very careful discounting my services and that my friends (unintentionally) could be the first people to devalue my work.  This was great advice (as is all of the advice I get from her – thanks Leeann!).  I really am grateful for my friends referring me to other people.  I think that in an attempt to get me more customers, both myself and the people contacting me lost sight of the fact that I’m running a business – not just trying to start one.  Along with that, I’m not trying to be a photographer, I am one!

So, how do I get out of this trap?  I’m not entirely sure.  I’ve made Lawrence Chan’s blog my go-to business guide.  I’m working hard to develop my personal style and point of view, and I’m trying to stick to my guns (and business plan) when people ask me for favors or to do something that I don’t think is in my/my business’ best interests.  Does this mean that suddenly my prices have skyrocketed?  No, of course not.  I’m just trying to create a successful business and sometimes that requires drawing the line.

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