I have always been a yes man in this business and usually that pays off. I've been fortunate to have made all my previous clients happy. That was until earlier this year when I had my first dissatisfied customer. I'm going to tell you what happened, why it happened and the events that lead up to it. I'm also going to tell you what I took from the experience and how its allowed me to grow.
How it started.
This particular client had been someone who I wanted to work with for a long time and as such I was desperate to have my business associated with their brand. Their business has grown massively since its inception and has been inspiring to say the say the least. So when the opportunity came up to work with them naturally I shouted yes. Great! Or so I thought. This client needed a type of product that I had no previous experience with what so ever but still said yes anyway. I did explain to then client that I was inexperienced in this particular field and as such we agreed to reduced rates. That was my first mistake.
I didn't actually know what a typical day doing this style of shooting entailed. I just assumed I turn up and shoot, then go home and deliver. Boy how wrong was I. In hindsight I should have seen it coming but I didn't. What was actually required was a. Serious degree of staging before I could even start. Now I'm sure this is perfectly normal in this field I just wasnt aware of it. This lead into my next major error of judgement. I was in peak flow. My diary was already booked up with other clients but because I was so eager to work I just said yes to their requests and squeezed them in.
One of the better ones during this time
Strait up. I didn't allow enough time. Partly due to the fact I had other commitments that came first. But this meant when I was on the site I wasn't really in the moment. I had it constantly on my mind that I had to finish and get going to other jobs I had already booked in. And this made me rush making errors that are way out of character to me. But I also made a mistake that I really kick myself for. I took their instructions on how to take the photos. God I feel stupid on that one. Before starting I took a few trial runs using my gut and experience and they came out great. Now I see the real reason to hire me was to improve on what they already had and not just mimic it. This is the one that gets me the most. I know full well I could have delivered to a higher standard despite the other shortcomings. I should have done it my way and delivered just that. It's not that they were a disaster they wasn't at all. They just wasn't my best.
What did I take away.
Slowdown. As a start up its easy to say yes. You are eager to work and build a reputation. But in this case just jumping in and saying yes cost me. I didnt fully understand the requirements or the environment of the job. I also tried to juggle too many jobs at once. What I learnt was to slow down get all the relevant information, do your research and then plan and price effectively. Not just try and squeeze everything in. I also learnt follow your gut. I know what I'm doing and as such should trust my skills. I wanted to use lights etc but didn't as I did it their way. Lastly not every client is your client and you can't please everyone. I'm not saying I wouldn't take this client again if I could rewind. I'm just saying I would approach it much more pragmatically. And would make sure I was fully prepared.
After all was said and done it was a good experience. I learnt from it and even though that door closed it did open another in its place. Since this happened I, have already worked with others in the same industry and knowing what I know now, have had way better results. I wrote this blog as the whole situation bothers me. We need failure to grow but I kick myself none the less. I hate underachieving. And further more I hate not producing good enough products. But this has driven me passionately to not allow that to happen again. And I hope this can also give other startups an insight into how easily mistakes can happen. But also that you can move on and take from it. Luckily this is the only unhappy client I have had and I will make sure they are the last.
How im taking them now