YES CHARGE! EVEN FRIENDS.
Starting your own business is not easy and you don't make money right away.You're just barely trying to get by.
A friend reached out to me and asked for some business advice. She asked if I ever charged my friends when I first started out and how did I navigate the conversation.
I didn't have a straight answer for her. But this is what I shared with her...
When I first started my photography business I did a lot of free sessions so I had real people to practice on. Since it was free and they knew they were just my testers, they knew they were not getting the best images out there. But it was a win-win for the both of us. They got free photos and I got free models.
I couldn't do it for free anymore if I wanted my business to grow. To grow I needed to make money so I can invest that money back into me, my gears, and other products that I used for my business.
As my business grew friends would still ask me here and there to take their photos for free and when I did say yes this is what happened:
- Call me the day of the shoot and tell me they don't feel good today and asked me to reschedule
- They forgot that they asked me
- Ask me to do some crazy photoshopping (at the time I barely knew how to work Photoshop)
They didn't value my time that's the truth because they didn't have any skin in the game.
So next time a friend asked this was my response...
"Thanks for liking my photos. I would love to shoot your family/you, I charge x amount. If you want to move forward we'll need to book a date because I know both of our schedules are super busy."
I get it. But the more you say it the better you get at it. Also it gets less awkward with the next friend that ask you to do something for free.
The decision is still up to you decide if you still want to give it for free to your friend, but you must manage expectations.