The creative field is tough. There are very few other professions where someone has to decide what their ideas and vision are worth.
Photography is a creative art, but being a photographer is a business and therefore you need to think like a businessperson in order to be successful and profitable. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are working your butt off only to find out at the end of the year that all that work resulted in making less than minimum wage…
So let’s talk about that if you’re one of those people struggling with pricing and get you to a place where you are being profitable in your business and able to do what you love full-time!
Go All-In or Not At All
While your instinct might be to not price yourself too low or too high, pricing yourself in the middle is one of the most dangerous things you could possibly do. Potential clients when looking for photographers are either looking for cheap photos that just get the job done, or for photographers that offer an incredible experience, extraordinary customer service and archive quality products that come at a higher price point. Very few people go looking for a photographer that is in the middle.
Let’s think back to before you were really going with photography and your camera goes out because you drop it in the ocean on a family vacation. Hopefully not! But let’s use this as an example. You were frustrated that your beginner camera with a kit lens couldn’t do exactly what you needed it to do. Maybe it wasn’t super sharp or that the bokeh of your lens wasn’t great. You had been dreaming of getting that brand new shiny (or matte?) flagship camera from Canon. It’s a little bit pricier, but you know that it’s going to be worth it.
So you’re faced with a choice: replace the beginner camera or go for the bad a$$ camera you’ve really been wanting. But there’s also that camera in between that’s almost what you’re dreaming of but not quite.
Suddenly… that camera in the middle doesn’t seem that great. You’re probably thinking “Why not just spend a little extra money to get exactly what I want?” or “Well… I don’t really see that many differences between the middle camera and the beginner camera that already got the job done… and I don’t want to spend that much money so I’ll just replace the beginner camera I had.”
Your brain has been trained to go low or high!! This is why brands like Walmart and Apple are extremely successful! They knew this and either went with low prices guaranteed or by offering a premium product even if it came at a premium price. Neither of them are in the middle price wise and it’s paid off.
Physical Products Are Must
If you’re trying to make a living at photography, it’s really hard to price yourself correctly and profitably by only offering digital images. Every single photographer can offer digital images, but not all photographers can offer products. Not only do physical products help set you apart from your fellow photographers in your town, they also allow you to help establish a brand that shows you care about your clients having the best of the best.
When clients are shopping for a photographer, it’s very difficult to price yourself at a point where you are making profit and able to make a living doing what you love if you’re offering the exact same thing as everyone else… Who in their right mind is going to spend 3x more for the exact same product (e.g. digital images)? Yes, your photography may be way better, but if you have yet to establish a relationship with your potential client, that person finding you on Google is going to have a really hard time figuring out why you’re more expensive than someone who offers a similar product.
Determine Your Cost of Doing Business
Go to another photographer’s website who is in your area, look at their price list and price yourself about what they charge. Scratch that.
This is the number one mistake that photographers make when starting out!! They think that if Susie from down the road is charging $XXX that this is what they should be charging too! What they might not know is that Susie’s overhead costs are way less than yours will be or that she is booking a ton of clients that if you photographed that many you would go crazy!
My biggest tip when determining pricing is to see what your cost of doing business is and how many clients you’ll be taking on. Literally list every single expense or projected expense that you’ll have in your business. This includes services like Adobe Creative Cloud, a client management software like Iris Works that you’re using, business insurance, etc. Plus, don’t forget to calculate how much each of your products cost and how much profit you are actually making for selling said product. Then, don’t forget to figure out how many clients you want to be booking every year and how much you want to be making after all of your expenses. This will give you what you should be pricing yourself at for generating the income that you need to run your business!
Just Do It!
We’ve all said to ourselves before “Oh I’ll do it later!” Take the leap. This is the biggest thing that I did for my business and clients. It allowed me to offer a level of service that other photographers cannot because they’re too busy shooting or editing all the time and it’s just so key to growing your business to be the best it can be.