When to do something for free

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by photoentrepreneur, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. photoentrepreneur

    photoentrepreneur TPF Noob!

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    I thought I would open a debate about when or if you should do something for free. Although I make a very good living from photography, I still sometimes do things for free.

    Before anyone tells me "doing stuff for free devalues your work and status", I would like to mention two business models that did ok out of it. Facebook and google. You might say that they are different to us, but are they and what could we learn from them as photographers?

    Personally I do free shoots if..

    1: They will open up new contacts or areas I have not been introduced to.

    2: It's for a charity auction.

    3: I want to try out new concepts that I will later sell to the wider public

    4: It would be good publicity

    Your thoughts?


     
  2. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    I would say you're wrong about Facebook and Google both giving something away for free. Both make their money (boatloads of money) selling the information they gather about their user's to advertisers. Their users are the ones giving something away, content and personal information.

    TPF isn't giving away anything for free either. TPF sells advertising space, and forum members provide free content. Supporting members pay to provide free content.
     
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  3. cgipson1

    cgipson1 TPF Noob!

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    I agree with Keith! FREE? Google and Facebook? Not hardly! While WE don't pay for the services.. we provide the content that allows them to make millions of dollars in advertising and other avenues! SO yes.. we do PAY.. just not cash!
     
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  4. 12sndsgood

    12sndsgood No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    so then instead of facebook and google being free consider it more a trade for ;)
     
  5. photoentrepreneur

    photoentrepreneur TPF Noob!

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    They both started giving away the service for free then made money after buy selling advertising.

    What I am saying is you can make money from other revenues.
     
  6. imagemaker46

    imagemaker46 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I will let a company use a photo as long as the credit I get in return is exposed to a large enough audience, or if I have a reasonable chance of getting some return from the use. Unfortunately 9 times out of 10 there is no return on the use, but I still do it on occation, as it is the 1 out of 10 that still generates business. I don't shoot for free, my favourites are the "not for profit" groups that ask me, someone always makes money, usually the ones that are being paid to work for the "not for profit" group.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Yes, but you've already got your client base sorted out (at least it sounds that way from how you describe your free offerings). The general "don't do it for free" advice is pitched directly to newbies on the market who often get trapped in the mindset that ANY work (no matter the pay) is work they should be doing. Which can quickly end up with them working many many hours, for very lowballing/free clients in the hope that (at some point) it will all take off.

    Of course once you've got your skills and your business running smooth you can choose to give your time away for free on your own terms - without endangering your earnings. Plus getting to that stage typically empowers you a little more to choosing clients who might promote your work or result in more paid work - not just in more free/lowpay work.

    Edit - if I recall right wasn't facebook started based on a charge service for reconnecting old school friends? They paid their membership to join and then the group linked them up to old schools/teachers etc.. who had also joined the network - it only becoming "free" at a much later state/
     
  8. photoentrepreneur

    photoentrepreneur TPF Noob!

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    I did start off growing my business by doing free shoots, followed by free shoots and one free print. Hand on my heart I only had a very very small handful who abused it. Most paid for more .

    I think it does come down what you are selling. Ie: they really want to buy the other images you took. Its also the way you sell them through your presentation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  9. imagemaker46

    imagemaker46 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Have to agree with what you have said. It is much easier to pick and choose what to do for free when the business is established. I look at the free advertising side of it, but there are no guarentees that it will ever generate any income. Giving anything away for free still comes with a cost attached.
     
  10. photoentrepreneur

    photoentrepreneur TPF Noob!

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    Ok


    Let's say you take 10 free shoots. You are confident that from that free shoot you are going to take at the very least ten amazing shots that the client will really want. You are now down to how long you have taken and what profit margins you make on each image You sell. From my studio it's £45 per digital image and starting from £15 for a 7x5 print depending on the type of shoot. The shoot is 30mins the viewing straight afterwards is another 30 mins. I can normally get an average of £100 per hour from this method.
     
  11. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That isn't so much working for free - that sounds more like a free sitting session followed up by your (salesman mode) selling the product (the photos) to the client. Certainly that method works, you know you can draw people in with a "free photo shoot" and then sell them the product that you already know they want because they walked in and just spent 30mins-1 hour in your shop (few people will spend that much time and then walk away with nothing - even most of the tight penny pinchers will want at least one photo for their troubles).

    Further you've made the key step many newbies fail to, which is to set a value for your time based upon your costs and earning needs.
     
  12. photoentrepreneur

    photoentrepreneur TPF Noob!

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    This is a chat I would like people who are starting ,to read. It's something they don't teach at photography school but must be learnt if you want to make money in a studio.
     

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