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How I Overcame my Fear of Selling to Clients (and How You Can, Too!)

You know what sucks? Fear. Throat-clenching, cold sweat, tingly fingers fear. It makes you lose your train of thought, stumble over your words, and it takes all the conviction out of your up-sell. It’s the reason that basically no photographers likes the hard sell. But you know what? It’s also totally universal, which means that everyone has had to find a way through it – and I want to fill you in on mine.

But first of all, there’s something I need you to acknowledge. Say it out loud, write it down and stick it on your computer screen, whatever – you just need to know that you know it. It’s going to be your mantra.

Everybody – literally everybody! – wants beautiful, personal images in their lives, in their homes, and in their collection of memories. The catch? They might not know that they do.

Why is it so important to know this? Because knowing it means that you have an unshakeable conviction to fall back on when the fear of selling kicks in. It’ll act as that little inner oasis of calm when your client is viewing their images, and it’ll remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The key to kicking your fear is to learn how to obliterate your negative thoughts. A lot of the time, these come from the worry that your client is going to hate the photos you’ve taken – and I get that! Being a creative is tough, and it requires you to be vulnerable, showcasing something truly subjective as a tangible product.

When I was first starting out, showing my clients their images was my least favourite part of the whole job. I’ve never done online galleries, which made it both better and worse – I’d be able to see their immediate reaction, even if it was a bad one, but I’d also be able to try to rectify things on the spot as needed. But oh man, I lived in fear.

The funny thing is, nobody ever actually ended up disliking their images. No one said, “you’re not actually very good,” or, “these aren’t up to standard,” or even, “god, you’ve made me look enormous!” All those impostor-syndrome nasties in my head turned out to be just that, and the clients spotted the intangibles – their relationship with their horse, the love, the memories – and adored the photos.

So here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to stop thinking that you’re about to be ‘discovered’ as a fraud. You’re going to stop sighing with relief after each viewing, relieved that you ‘got away with it’ again. You’re going to start truly believing that you’re the talented professional that you are – and it’s going to help you banish the fear and sell more photos than ever.

All it’s going to take from you is a commitment to changing your mindset. Remember – your clients have paid you (and trusted you!) to capture them and their horse. You’ve helped style them, you’ve chosen the best locations, you’ve made sure they knew what to expect and how to prepare for every stage of the process. You’ve had it all covered – and you still do.

It’s also so crucial to remember that you’re not springing any surprises on your clients at this stage. They know what the shoot fee is – they’ve paid it, after all!  – and they know what’s included in that price. They’ve had a copy of your price list from the beginning, and they know their own budgets – that bit has nothing to do with you. You can’t shock them now.

A hard sell can sometimes feel like forcing someone into something they don’t want to do, but if your client has committed to a shoot – and all its time and expense – in the first place, this absolutely is something they want. It’s up to you, now, to make the experience a special one. It’s time to think of yourself as an advisor, as a curator, and as an unveiler of wonderfully happy things, not as a salesperson. Put on a great outfit that makes you feel amazing, pour yourself and your client a glass of champagne, and always remember – you’re about to show someone something they’ve been waiting for all their lives. How lucky are you?! Now embrace those butterflies and dive in!