What To Think About When Negotiating Your Styling Rate

Feb 27, 2024

The question I get ALOT is:  “Do you charge a different rate depending on the assignment”?  Nope.  You are not being payed by the hour to do a task. You are not a Shopper with a props list to to check off.  You are an Advisor and Stragetic Creative Partner. A client is paying for your creativity and the END RESULT for them ~ (sales!) As a Photo Stylist, YOU are getting more eyes on your client’s product/service through your talent and creativity and more money into your client’s pocket.  Your styling rate needs to reflect the value you bring.

So, I say what Julia Robert's character, Vivian says in Pretty Women to clients . . . that’ll cost ya! ;)  Ahhh, the fine art of negotiation in that movie scene, right?!

Completely kiddin' ~ I'm not that harsh.

Yes, you will hear editorial styling is less than advertising, campaigns, etc.  My thoughts are clients are not paying by the hour for my time ~ they are paying for creativity and results.  AND you will rarely hear me say “experience”.  I’m a firm believer that you can have an innate ability to style and create and you should not have to “suffer through” accepting a low rate until you “pay your dues”. (But yes, experience can be a factor.)

I once worked with a Junior Stylist with very little “experience” that absolutely killed it with textiles!  She is ammmaaazzzing at doing drapes/curtains for interior home shoots! She would absolutely get TOP dollar for her textile styling skills!  It’s a gift and talent.  So, if you have a skill or talent don't think you will need to wait “years” into the industry before you think you deserve a higher rate.  You have talent? You deserve it.  You style so beautifully your client makes tons of sales because of your creativity? You deserve it.  You creatively bring their vision to life AND give them more than they hoped for?  You deserve it.  Make sure you know what to charge for and that you are charging enough for your styling services. Sometimes a client does not know exactly how much to pay a Stylist or it could be a new brand new to hiring stylists.  That is why you will sometimes hear phrases like ~ just do you thing.  Try not to lose patience with clients like that.  What I have done in the past is explain to them all that is involved in styling a brand, campaign, project. (as well as the end result.) Be mindful not to try to "justify" your rate ~ but to have a conversation. (& negotiate, if need be.) 

Of course there are variables to think of such as the region, market that you live in and niche.

While you may be tempted to ask a prospective client “what is your budget” to be flexible and not lose the assignment ~ that would mean that your rate for every job would probably be different each time.  Confidence comes from establishing and sticking to your rate.  (Yes, there are exceptions you may make. I have made some too.)

Have questions?  Ask away! Email me at [email protected]  Happy to help!


Bonnie ~


And remember what Richard Gere’s character, Edward Lewis, said . . . . “I would have paid more”. Oftentimes, people see and know how valuable our talent is more than we do.  

Becoming comfortable negotiating comes down to being completely confident in what you offer, how valuable you are and doing your due diligence in researching and knowing your prospective client. Our Assessment Cheat Sheet will help you organize and define your assets, your prospective clients pain points and get comfortable with the negotiation process. We have a Stylist Negotiation Guide for you to help!


Image Credit | Elevae Visuals

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Questions or Comments?

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