Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Quoting a Job Without Project Details

The more commercial work I do, the more I find commercial clients who basically want me to give them a price without giving me any information about their project and how much time, effort, and detail it will take.  Trying to elicit more details out of those clients before sharing any pricing only results in responses about 40% of the time, which means the other 60% want to know something about price before they will even engage in a conversation about the project.  While this is frustrating from a creative and budgeting perspective, I've found a couple ways to open the door without committing to a bad price....

Provide An Average Client Range
By telling the client that average projects tend to range anywhere from $$$$-$$$$, they can immediately know if their budget falls in your client averages based on what they're requesting.  Even if it's a huge range from hundreds to thousands, it's amazing how just providing any number range can keep the conversation moving forward so that the client feels more comfortable expressing their project details.

Provide Quotes From Previous Projects
Providing samples of previous quotes can help a client better understand what level they fall in.  This would be similar to having an established price list, but provide more detailed examples of what can be included or eliminated from a quote.  Ideally, you'll be able to provide 3 solid examples from previous jobs you've completed.
Client A: Four hours of on-location photography with highly specialized studio lighting, stylist, makeup artist, and models with delivery of 10 retouched images for print advertising in a major magazine: $$$$$
Client B: Two hours of on-location photography with simple studio lighting to create headshots for 5 executives for an annual report with a delivery of 5 images: $$$$.
Client C: Full day of photography in studio with specialty lighting for commercial website and packaging use: $$$$

Provide A Low & High Estimate
If you think you have a good sense of what the job will be without a bunch of detail, you can provide a low and high estimate to help the client understand more about their needs.  It's a way of providing a soft quoted estimate with plenty of negotiating room.
Budget Option: 2 hours on location, 2 images delivered with option to purchase more $$$
Luxury Option: 8 hours on location, 8 images delivered with option to purchase more $$$$$

If you've had clients fall through the cracks because you weren't able to provide something they could begin to work with, try one of these approaches instead and see if it helps to improve your follow-through with new inquiries.


Anne Ruthmann is a professional photographer in New York City. With over 10 years of success as a full-time photographer in weddings, portraits, editorial, and now architecture and interiors, she spends any extra time she has helping others find smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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