Imagine this. You’re in business. Doing what you love. And you get a killer opportunity that lands in your lap. The opportunity doesn’t involve payment, it actually requires YOU to invest. But it’s an experience. It’ll look good. It’ll get shared by an account with thousands of followers. *Do you do it?*
Let’s boil this down into an actual example. Vagueness sometimes seems easy to justify. A few years ago I had the opportunity to shoot for a designer… In Cuba. It all seemed like a dream. I would not have been paid, but everything would have been covered, at least that was the initial pitch. During that time, I also happened to be in Florida, and the timing of everything seemed to work out perfectly. Until it didn’t.
Ever have those business moments. Or life moments. Relationships moments. Communication moments. Everything is going great, until one moment, it’s not.
I’m sharing this story because I feel as though I keep seeing a trend. Or maybe it’s always been there and I’m just now becoming aware. Regardless, a trend in which “exposure” and sprinkling numbers in the air seems to be that of which this industry is coming by. I’ll be the first to admit, of course, I did shoots for exposure. Of course I had no f*cking clue how to price.
Truth; sometimes I still don’t. I question it constantly. Yes, I’ve done the research, math and know the market, but it’s hard to keep a competitive price when pixie dust numbers and exposure are creating a cyclone you’re trying to swim in.
It’s taken several years, but I had to learn something. I had to learn the hard noes of business. And life. That also included saying no to the Cuba trip.
*Look if you’re reading this and shaking your head saying you would have gone and done it, and I was a fool and you would have turned the opportunity into gold. Sit down and keep reading.*
The Cuba trip turned into something that I was going to have to invest in. Something that wasn’t initially part of the deal. More of my time and work kept being added to the trip. To the point, I began to question if it was worth it. And more importantly, I began to see my “yes” to the project as an actual negative to the photography industry as a whole. If I agreed, what would that mean for my value or the next photographer’s value who was asked to work on a similar project?
*Field note, if you get to that point… You start questioning if this is a balanced deal, question it more.*
When I presented my concerns to the person I had been dealing with, the response was, “ Well you can’t put a price on an experience like this.”
My exact reaction without hesitation was, “Yes I can. It’s called rent.”
Needless to say, the trip didn’t happen. And to this day, I’m still great with my decision. That gut feeling that made me question my worth, time, value, paid off. For me. It made ME value myself, my work, my energy, my time and my business. I didn’t give in to an *appearance* for social media, and that probably felt better than anything. A well balanced “no” is sometimes better than halfhearted “yes.”
But I’m sharing this story today to encourage you all to really find that balance in yourself. I’ve had some more suuuuper hard no’s come along after that experience. And I have to admit, they were not pretty. Some included pulling the plug on projects right before they were supposed to happen. But I don’t regret it. I will never regret trying to communicate my worth and value as a business owner, even if it’s messy. I will never regret trying to communicate as a person with those who turn into crickets, even if it’s piecey and filled with tears. You tried. You stated your worth, and if you feel with everything inside you that you stood up for yourself with every ounce of value, then you already won. Regardless of what others have to say about you.
Nothing is built on appearance. But so much can be built off value. Seriously embrace that last sentence, I promise it’ll change everything for you.