053: Pricing at the Beginning of Your Photography Business
Price yourself right from the beginning to be successful
When you’re starting out as a photographer you may feel like you should do everything for free or cheap because you’re new, it's fun, or the market is too saturated, but you need to charge for your time. We’re talking about under 2 years experience. If you’re over 2 years in business, you may still be tweaking your prices and packages, but those first 2 years can be so scary.
One of the biggest complications when you’re starting out is most of your clients are probably people you know. And they know that you’re new to photography and they want to pay you as a newer photographer. It can be easier to charge strangers more than your own friends, but that can cause problems later down the line - for your business and your friendship.
Business or Fun Money
Where you end up pricing yourselves depends on where you want your business to go. Some photographers start because they loved doing it on the side and they have no intention of making it a sustainable business because their spouse is the main income source. If that’s you, that is okay, but if that’s not you, and you want to create a profitable business, you need to approach your pricing differently.
Originally she decided to base her pricing off of her time. She did not want to deal with prints and albums. Quickly Cinnamon realized that pricing by time was not the best option as families didn’t tend to want more than an hour long session. Engagement sessions can last longer, but Cinnamon mostly had families to start. As she gained more experience and more confidence, she changed her structure to include a session fee and then they paid for a certain number of photos with the idea that she could up-sell them later by showing them more than they had paid for. Again, this wasn’t the best option for her because she was constantly emailing clients back and forth to determine which photos they wanted to order.
After about a year, her clients were more interested in getting professional prints made instead of only having digital images. She realized she was doing them a disservice by not providing them options to print these for them. There are many photographers who now sell prints but others have a hesitancy towards in-person sales (IPS). Photos were meant to be printed and there is a huge difference in where you have these printed.
Knowing Your Numbers
It is really important for you to realize your cost of doing business. This number is one of the most important number in your business, and most photographers don’t know this number. Once you know what your cost is, you can begin to build your brand around your worth. People know how much brand-named items cost. You have got to figure out your time and your cost in order to actually make money and turn your photography hobby into a business. It is not what price feels good to tell someone, but it is the price that is making you profitable.
When a stranger asked for pricing on an anniversary party for 2 hours of shooting, Cinnamon wasn’t too sure she even wanted to the do event. She did know, however, that she wanted to make more than she had before. So instead of the $250 she normally charged, she told him it would be $750 and anxiously hit send. He responded and accepted immediately. You may need to step outside your comfort zone and go for it.
Three questions to ask yourself
What do you want to do with your business?
How much you want to work? How many sessions per month, per year.
How much you want to make? You can even start with your desired income and work backwards from there to determine the number of sessions.