Chase Jarvis is an award-winning professional photographer. In 1994, he licensed his first image for $50 and a pair of skis. His photography now sells for up to $50,000.
In a recent interview with Ramit Sethi, he said,
I would rather have people say, “That’s a little bit out of our budget, but I really want to work with you specifically. You’re not some monkey with a finger on a camera button. What I’m buying is your vision and I’m going to go back to my boss and rally for more money.” And then a day later they come back and they’re like, “Okay, I got it. Will you do it for X?”
They’ve thought about the value and they’re buying the thing that you have that other people in the world don’t have.
What I think about all the time is, how can I position myself the way I want, which is as a premium product. It just weeds out so much bullshit. Like when you buy a Mercedes, you know that when you close the door it’s going to go “thud,” it’s not going to go “kink.”
Q: How did you have the psychological fortitude to actually be able to say,” I should charge more”? Because most of the people that I first encountered, they’re terrified of charging even a fraction of what they should charge.
First, understand that what people are paying for is your vision. So, you need to have a point of view. And two you need to be able to talk about that point of view in the most bullet-proof way in any situation that supports what they want.
Finally, price yourself in a way that makes it so that it’s very clear to them that you don’t need them.
You have to have a narrative and if you don’t have a narrative that says why your shit is better than somebody else’s, or different, or to me, you have to be able to articulate the vision and that is what people buy especially if you’re selling air. I’m air.
Push the buttons on a camera, then you’re a monkey with a trigger finger. That is such a very basic skill, but to be able to do that skill is incredibly valuable. But you can’t get hired to do that skill unless you have the narrative. So the narrative and the vision that you’re honing through time and through practice and through repetition is the key differentiation. I often say, “Don’t just be better, be different.”
One of the careers or one of the educational paths that I quit was I was pursuing a PhD in philosophy. Mostly when I was lost and wandering in the woods. But it turns out that that was really valuable for me because it gave me a lexicon. It gave me a vocabulary. And I actually had taken the time to think about why I’m doing the things I’m doing and what makes me different and what my narrative is. At that level, those are the only things that people care about.
I’m pretty honest. I go in and I say, “What is really similar that I’ve done?” And I actually would not just bring a solution, but bring a different solution than they expect. So being unexpected. Hey, look, if they want me to do X, I’ll always say, “I got you. I’ll do X.” But then as soon as I’ve demonstrated that X is in the bag, I’m going to say, “But here’s how I going to elevate that.” And it’s not dissimilar to the briefcase technique that you talked about. Like, “What am I going to do to add value?” And that’s where minds go “pfft.”
The way that I would say that I’ve mastered craft is I’m always learning, but I am incredibly transparent and honest. I get asked all the time [tp do things I don't do]. I say I don’t do that, but here’s the way I would do it.
So I give them, again, an alternative that they hadn’t considered. Which usually goes “pfft” and then they will often go, “Well, I want that.” Because it’s something that they haven’t heard of before and in the world of creativity.
And that’s what you’re paid for—to come up with ideas that other people can’t. And then I usually go back and this is what I would prize a little bit and say, “Yeah, but remember, I’m not going to do this thing. And you originally brought me in here to do this. So I want to be crystal clear that I’m not going to do it that way. And if you want to do it that way, and that’s what you walked me in here for, I can recommend a couple of people that would deliver that.”
Don’t just be better, be different.
To succeed as a coach, don’t be a coach.
There are a million coaches.
Instead hone your unique ability.
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