As your business grows and changes you are naturally going to have price increases.
You may have started your business charging too little so you are going through a significant price increase, or maybe you are only raising your prices by a small amount. Perhaps you are restructuring your pricing model. No matter what it is you are doing, it can be hard to retain old clients when you raise your prices. I have raised my price about 500% since starting my business over three years ago, and I have managed to retain most of my clients.
Here are a few examples of things you can do to retain your loyal clients while going through a price jump.
Notify your clients.
People feel good about being informed. Whenever I have a price or structure change I send out a newsletter to all my old clients. I usually title the newsletter “Elena S Blair Photography Is Growing!” I express to my clients how thankful I am for their business, and tell them that I owe my growth to them. I tell them that I want them to be the first to know about the change. An added benefit about this newsletter is that it reminds my returning clients of how much they loved their photos and they often book a session. Win-win!
Offer a small loyalty discount.
I always offer either a dollar amount off their session (I am all inclusive with the option to buy prints and products in addition) or I offer a print credit. This makes the increase seem like less to them. It also makes them feel appreciated.
Be mindful of the time of year when you raise your prices.
I recommend raising your prices at the beginning of the year or in the spring. This avoids shocking clients during the holidays. It also sets your prices before the busy season.
Do not raise your prices too often.
If you raise your prices every few months, clients are going to lose trust in your business and may look to another photographer for consistency. Think long and hard about price increases so that they can last six months to a year.
Treat your clients like gold!
Remember, your business depends on them. I always do extra special little things for my loyal clients. Any of my repeat clients received a metal ornament with an image from their session this past holiday season. I have a family who has been with me since I was charging portfolio building prices and they continue to book 1-3 sessions a year. I have given them free sessions or waived travel fees to their home that is nearly an hour from my house. If a returning client makes a big order on top of my all inclusive price, I will throw in some extra prints as a thank you. I always make sure they know how much I appreciate them.
Finally, make peace with the fact that you will lose some clients when you increase your prices. This is okay. Try not to take it personally. There are enough clients for everyone, I promise.
Elena Blair, Washington
CMU Instructor | CM Mentor
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With a Canon 5d mark II and a few choice lenses in hand, Seattle photographer and NICU/Labor and Delivery nurse Elena Blair began working with film about ten years ago and then dipped her toes in the digital pool in 2010. Often described as fine art documentary, her photography is natural, organic, and emotive which is an extension of her family and their lifestyle. Elena, her husband, and three children are an active family that enjoys biking, hiking, and skiing. Elena is the instructor of CMU’s workshop Going Beyond the Pose.