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From Jo’s Monday email – sign up for the email list

Recently we got a referral for a branding client & we were all like, “okay yeah, let’s go!” 💃🏼 Because who doesn’t get excited when you have an opportunity to add 4-figures to your bank account, right?

We had a few quick back-and-forths in the DM’s and the only thing left was for her to sign the contract…


Alarm bells started ringing in my head. 😳🚨🫨

I’ll be real with you – there were some yellow flags for me in the beginning that I let myself ignore because this person was coming through as a referral from someone we’ve worked with before & absolutely adore. So, by association I was like “no, it’ll be great, it’s all in my head”

Except, those feelings of caution never went away. They only got worse.

Here’s where it came to a head for me → the plaintiff prospect in question sent an innocent question asking if we would be able to work with someone they were bringing on as creative director for their photoshoot. Seems like a simple ask right? You’re probably thinking, “Jo, what the hell is the big deal about that?”

The problem was that we play the role of Creative Director in addition to Photographer for our branding clients.

This gal didn’t know that, which is on us because we didn’t think to explain or set the expectations of what role we play more clearly for her at the beginning.

Now, this could be argued as an ego problem but after 10+ years of experience working with photo clients, my intuition has learned to pick up on things that I may not always be able to articulate in the moment

In this case, my intuition could tell that if we said yes to this, I wouldn’t be able to deliver the quality of an experience that I would be proud of.

So…we turned down a $2600 client…and the minute we did, I felt so relieved.

And then we raised our rates (but that’s a story for another day). 😉


There’s actually quite a bit we could have done differently on our end to prevent this from happening in the first place – however, like with anything we’re viewing it as ✨a learning experience✨ Here’s what we’ll be doing differently moving forward (and what you can start implementing in your sales process now)! 👇🏼

Be clear in your messaging from the get-go & don’t make assumptions →We didn’t think to send over our website at the beginning since this prospect was coming through as a referral. We assumed (big no, no) that they had all the necessary info when in reality, they didn’t. 

Make sure you have a sales page or welcome guide set up that you can send over to prospective clients, whether they’re a referral or not, so that you can properly set the tone & share what they can expect from you as a service provider. This sets the tone and allows them to ask any questions right away!

Have a way to vett your clients before making anything official → One of the things we realized we should have done before anything else was set up a chemistry call to ensure that we were on the same page before going any further in the booking process (ie: sending over a contract).

We’re big fans of Chemistry Calls (and yes, you’re more than welcome to use the term if you’d like!) because it gives you a good pulse on whether you’ll work well together or not. This is just as important for you as it is for the client.

And finally…You can always say no to a client → Yes, you can. Whether you’re gently letting them know that a certain deliverable isn’t actually included in your package (but can be added for an additional fee), respecting your office hour boundaries and responding to client emails when you’re in the office, or saying, “Unfortunately, we’re not going to be a good fit for you but here’s some recommendations that may be a better fit on your end!” – you can always say no (really). 

It may be hard in the moment (because again, who doesn’t appreciate extra $$ in their bank account?) however, this is just one example of how you maintain integrity for your offers and overall experience

Trust your gut and your intuition. It knows things that you may not always be able to articulate in the moment, but will bring you so much peace in the long run. 💕

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We're Jo & Lyndon

Business Coaches for Branding Photographers; Content Creators, and the hosts of The Ambitious Dreamer Podcast.