With lots of people promoting products all the time, it’s hard to know what is worth buying and what is simply a waste of money.
I’m a huge proponent of learning and of buying educational products because they are a great way to grow your photography business faster, giving you more money sooner.
However, there are several instances when buying something is a mistake, even if it’s an awesome product.
So I’ve compiled a list of 7 tips to help you know when you should buy and when you should “just say no” and save yourself some money. This is a list you can use for all business purchases, not just educational ones.
1. You don’t really NEED this photography product
This is the biggest trap I see people fall into when buying stuff for their business. They simply don’t need it. It’s not an essential, and the only reason they are buying is because they want this instead of need this.
Some common examples of this include upgrading gear when you have a perfectly usable and acceptable set of gear already, buying more photoshop actions or lightroom presets when your editing is already beautiful, or getting just one more prop for your already massive collection. Be honest. You don’t really need this; you just want it.
The only things that always fall into the absolutely essential category are spending money to become a legal business, buying insurance, and buying contracts. I’d add knowing your pricing into this list because if you don’t know your numbers, you can’t run a profitable business, but you don’t have to pay to figure that our if you use my free pricing guide series.
If you don’t have these things in place, do NOT shoot another session or wedding until you do or you’re setting yourself up for some very, very bad consequences if things go wrong.
2. It’s not going to make you any extra money
As a business, most things are a waste if the thing you’re going to buy won’t make you extra money. The only exceptions to this are the essentials you need to run a business.
Paying thousands of dollars for a custom-designed website is not worth it if you’re not going to make a return on your investment when there are lots of other affordable website choices out there with customizable themes that cost much less.
Paying for a marketing course that is going to get you lots of new clients (and a huge amount of extra income because of it) is a great idea.
If someone promised to give you $1000 if you gave them $500, wouldn’t you do it every single time? It’s a no-brainer. So when looking at products, knowing what will make you money back and what won’t is a great indicator of if you should buy it or not.
3. When you don’t want to grow faster or are doing okay in that particular topic
Let’s say someone’s offering a book about how to show up higher in search engine rankings. If you’re already ranking pretty well and don’t need to improve much in this area, then it’s easy to say “no” and not waste your money.
If you can’t identify exactly what you’re hoping to get out of a product, don’t buy it. Knowledge isn’t any good if you don’t have a plan to use it to achieve your goals.
4. You’re looking for a solution but don’t want to put in any work
There are tons of products and courses out there that promise great results and will help you get the same results in your own business.
However, it’s going to take work (and sometimes a lot of it) on your part.
If you are expecting to read it and make some small change without doing much action, then it’s going to be a waste of your money and you’re going to be disappointed.
There’s no magic SEO secret that is going to get you to page 1 of Google without paying for it overnight. It takes time, persistence, and a lot of work on your part. Same with getting more clients, more money, figuring out accurate pricing, etc.
5. You don’t have time to implement what you learn
Maybe you’re willing to do the hard work it takes to get the promised results of the product you’re thinking of buying, but you simply don’t have time to do it right now.
So just say no.
I’m totally guilty of this all the time. I love to KNOW stuff, so much so that my lack of knowledge is almost never the reason I’m not getting the results I want or growing as fast as I want to. At this point, it’s more that I don’t have the time to implement everything I’ve learned already.
It’s better to take the things you already know, and work really hard on doing them right, before buying something new and not having time to implement it.
If you buy something, have a concrete schedule for when you’re going to read it, use it, do it, and really put it to good use. Otherwise, no matter how good the info is, it’s a waste.
6. It’s not from someone you know or trust
If you find a product or service out there that promises great results, but you don’t know the person who created it or don’t have a recommendation from someone who has used it or seen it, be very leery about buying it.
Sure, there are lots of good products out there that you may find without you knowing the person who created it or having a recommendation about it from someone you trust, but honestly there are SO many bad products and products that are lacking in content for the price or that are created only for the sake of making the person money and not actually helping you that it’s not worth the risk.
Do your homework.
You’ll also find lots of people online promoting other peoples’ products because they have an affiliate program where the person recommending the product makes a commission if you buy using their link.
While I’d like to think that most people recommend products because they really, truly believe they are the best out there and because they will help you grow your business, not everyone cares about the photography industry beyond just making money off you. So please be careful when you see that something is an affiliate link.
Here at The Modern Tog, I only promote products that I truly believe are good products from people that I trust to care about helping you grow your business. There are several products that I can’t promote in good conscience, even though others promote them or they may pay out a good deal of money, but keeping your trust is far more important to me.
I do use affiliate links when they are available because it’s a great way to help keep the content here mostly free and allow me to take the time away that I could otherwise be shooting to share tips with you. So I appreciate it when you use the affiliate links on this site. It’s just that not everyone cares as much as I do, so please, please be careful.
7. There’s no money-back guarantee
If you’re buying a digital product online and there’s no money-back guarantee, it may be a sign that they don’t believe in their product enough to give you the benefit of the doubt.
I understand why some people don’t do them. I mean, you can’t exactly give the digital copy back and could request a refund and still use the product, preset, action, ebook, etc. But people like me are trusting you to be a better person than that.
However, if you truly are unhappy with your purchase for some reason, or feel like it isn’t delivering the benefits it promised and you actually took the time to implement it and do the things it recommended doing, you should be able to request a refund.
What are the best photography products out there?
I’ve seen LOTS of products, and I’ve very selectively put together a list of the best photography business products and tools all in one convenient place. There’s a mix of paid and free products, so check it out now (but don’t go buying something you shouldn’t!)
This is a great place to look if you’re looking for specific business help (it’s arranged by topic), what vendors I use in my own business (such as labs, albums, etc.) or trust-worthy places to buy new gear. Using the links also helps support The Modern Tog, so I appreciate it greatly!
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