Day 24: Conversations About Money

A long time ago when I was first starting out in business, I read an article that was titled “The marks of an amateur.” Trying very hard at the time to achieve at least a glimmer of a professional image, I clicked that sucker and read it. The only one that really stuck out at me was this:

They have trouble talking about money.

It stuck out because I had trouble talking about money. I also noticed, a LOT of people have trouble talking about money! For some reason it’s the one of the most uncomfortable subjects. I mean, even a group of friends will more readily talk details about their personal sex life than they will finances. When we were young, we were taught it was impolite to ask questions about money. How much do you make? How much did that cost? Even now, I feel incredibly rude when a friend tells me she splurged on something and I want to inquire about the cost. The result however is that no one knows how much anything is supposed to cost! So when you go to buy something, your brain is usually completely off target.

This can lead to an embarrassing situation, and God forbid that ever happen to any of us. When we are shopping, we get to discreetly peek at the price tag, register the shock quietly and slip out the door while the sales associate’s back is turned. No embarrassment. But with weddings, every business is priced differently and since each couple has never planned a wedding before, they have no idea what any of it should cost. Pair that with the fact that they have to ASK for the price and then digest the total openly in front of the person who set the price… it can be uncomfortable. The couple can be panicking because they never thought florals could cost ten thousand dollars and the florist could be panicking because she just had to give a ten thousand dollar quote. It’s awkward. And I get why.

BUT, a true professional will be able to navigate this conversation comfortably without allowing anyone to feel embarrassed. Imagine that.

I recently admitted to a friend that sometimes I will put him in slightly uncomfortable positions to see how he navigates them. Kind of gross, right? But he’s taught me so much about overall class and social charm that I’m pretty sure I owe him a few rounds of beer by now. This friend is incredibly good natured, likable, and polite. He’s always smiling and people love being around him. When we first were building our friendship years ago, my brain wanted to peg exactly what it was. What it was that put the X in his factor.

One day I decided I would let him ask me for money. Usually at our weekly appointments, I would open with a greeting and pass his hourly rate to him casually while keeping the conversation going. But this day, I didn’t. I kept right on talking and he didn’t miss a beat. At the end of our meeting, I said a cheery goodbye and he said the same. “Hmmm, maybe he’s going to text me later for a Venmo or something.” At the last minute he popped his head out of his office with a smile and said “Oh! Hey, Denise, do you have payment today?”

THAT’S IT? I thought. THAT’S ALL IT TAKES? Why do we make it this big crushing conversation we think is going to be crazy to navigate? Why do we think it’s going to be this big painful awkward exchange? We think we’re going to sound greedy or tacky, but really, we are the only ones that think that.

So how can you get out of this stigma surrounding money? The best way, I’ve found, is the same way I was able to. Find someone who will ask you for money. Yep. Research that bad boy. Call to inquire about a service or product that you’ve been thinking about. Did you feel icky after the encounter? Why or why not? Did you feel comfortable with the person while they were talking about money? Why or why not?

There are two awesome videos covering this subject on The Futur that I encourage you to watch. Chris Do, the CEO of Blind walks you though how to navigate difficult conversations with a client. He’s kind, respectful, and confident af. Links here:

Give yourself a chance to be on the client’s side of money conversations before you flip the role to being the one doing the talking. Practice, organize a few scripts, and let me know what works for you in the comments down below! I’ll see you tomorrow for day 25: Studio space and how to afford it.

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!¬† If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

denise karis photography blog 100 posts in 100 days for photographers