If you have been in the photography workspace for any length of time the questions from customers asking for discounts of various descriptions will come up, it is unavoidable, or companies pouring honey in your ear about how much exposure your going to get for letting them use your image for free inexchange for a printed text link in the publication. In the early stages of your business, it might tempting as your wanting to land any kind of business that makes you money or gives you additional exposure so it might be a good idea to sit down have a read of this article and then nut out how you’re going to handle such requests and turn it into a business blueprint.
In this article I am going to talk about the main kinds of discounts your going to be asked to give, my thoughts on it and how I personally handle these situations. At the end of the day it is your business to run and you will learn from your mistakes but it is a topic that a lot of photographers get wrong in certain areas.
DISCOUNT FOR EXPOSURE OR IMAGE CREDIT
This is the main one I find I get asked more than most, especially a number of years ago when my website was older and didn’t have it clear on my website that the digital use of my image is via paid use.
This is the situation you find yourself in when a company/business asks you to use your image without payment in return for printed credit on the photo as a watermark or your name stated somewhere in the printed media. This is usually followed by them telling you about the readership of their publication/website and how many people will see your image.
Now firstly this kind of exposure is meaningless, maybe meaningless is a bit harsh but the return on giving a free image is untrackable and when the publication is over you get nothing. I personally feel the “Free in exchange for Credit” is a con.
Ok now let’s break this down. When you give your image away for free like this you have no real way of tracking your ROI (Return on investment) and you’re just hoping the free give away brings in traffic or even a sale. Odds are it won’t be. When you get paid for your image you already have a way of tracking your ROI as it is in your bank account. If the company is looking for image use like this you can give them a discount in return for image credit BUT this discount is only for image credit if the image is online and the credit MUST be a “Follow” link to your website.
This link builds up what is called your Domain Authority, giving your website strength in Google / Search engine ranking, as the amount of “link juice” you get from this link will depend on the website using your image and the industry it is in. For example, if your a photographer and your link is on a photography based website then it will carry more weight than a website where your image is promoting a local business, also long as each business webiste has a similar domain strength. Want to know more about what Domain Authority is, have a read here. The more links you get to your website the better, as long as the companies with your website link on it are credible. But thats whole different article.
This is an article about me on the Sydney.com website. This is a huge website and a link like this will give a lot of Juice to my website. Given the size of this site, I would make an exception and I would licence an image for free, but only for the link, no link, no image.
I recently licensed 14 of my images to a local council as they had a new project about tourism in the area. Perfect. They asked for a discount and due to the size of the order I was happy to do it, but with the discount, there was a condition, a “Follow” link on their website. As a council, you can imagine the Domain Authority it would have and the strength of the website. The discount was worth the link. But the discount was no more than 10%.
If you’re going to give a discount for a link, keep it small, otherwise, you’re kind of paying for the link.
PRODUCT PURCHASE DISCOUNT
What I have found is the request for discounts on purchases boils down to several factors. The courage of person and the location where you are at selling your products.
I remember selling in local markets and my small mounted photos were $30 each or two for $50. (People love a sale combo). But people would frequency select like six prints and offer $100 which or even worse they would grab two and offer $30 and some would say “a sale is a sale”. I found the market environment brings out people who will be very open about bartering a price and getting a deal, even a ridiculous deal. I don’t find this much when you do casual leasing in shopping centres and even less when you have your own shop front gallery. You still get people asking for discounts but it is more respectful than what you find at the markets.
Giving people discounts is a personal thing and how much is up to you. I personally find it depends on the cost of the item being sold, what the cost of it was for you to make, is it old stock that you just want gone and your happy to get your money back with a little cream on top.
When you get a request and you don’t want to do it. Don’t just say “No” always give a reason why, justifying why your product is worth that price ie the quality of the photo, how it is taken. Do this especially if your being asked to price match a competitor, don’t rubbish them as it looks poor, but professionally point out why your the best choice or why your’s is worth the price difference.
Another way to discount is to offer something additional. Let’s say a customer is asking you for $50 off and you don’t want to give that because remember $50 is $50 in cash money. But if you offer them a $50 or even a $60 product that they would like or could choose from that costs you $15 to make then your ahead, you get the sale and your customer feels like a winner as well, because they are and you only gave them a $15 discount, not $50, but they got a $50 item for nothing. See how it works?