You’re almost ready to start an exciting new venture… and all that’s left is pricing your products and services. AKA one of the most challenging parts!
Photographers are often afraid of pricing their services too high, thinking that they should be cheap just because they’re new, and they end up selling themselves short. The #1 thing to remember is that you didn’t get to where you are by accident! You’re a pro who’s probably been working towards starting your own business or been working IN their business for a long time. So now it’s time to price like one!
Here’s my best advice for figuring out just how to do that:
SET YOUR GOALS
What do you want to make in a year? A month? A week? Becoming a millionaire may be a stretch, but as you would with a typical 9-5 office gig, figure out how much you need to survive and how much you need to live happily. You probably wouldn’t take a job that only lets you scrape by each month, so don’t feel like you need to be a starving artist with your own business! Your financial goals should include all the things you love and need to stay sane when self-employed, like vacations, a weekly dinner out, or all those coffee runs. It’s also important to remember that goals change over time, and while your financial goals may be modest for your first few years, it’s good to aim higher with each passing year!
Once you have your goal salary figured out, next, decide how many sessions you will have to do per week to meet those goals. Are you offering a high-touch client experience where you can feasibly only handle two sessions per week? Or do you have a team helping you and can therefore shoot eight sessions per week?
When you’ve determined how many sessions you can do per week, decide how many weeks you want to work per year. (see where I’m going with this?)
Multiply the number of sessions you want to do each week by the number of weeks you want to work every year.
Then take your goal salary from above and divide it by this number (the number of sessions you want to shoot each year). THIS! is what you need to make at every session. It’s also a great jumping-off point for determining the types of products you should be selling and at what price.
Now that we have that figured out, we can move on to the next step…
RUN COST OF SALES
And I don’t just mean your camera and lenses. When considering your Cost of Sales, everything needs to be taken into account, from the packaging you deliver your prints in, to all of your culling and editing! To put it simply, the Cost of Sales tracks how much it costs to produce a good or service. These costs include direct labor, materials, and the overhead directly tied to creating a finished product.
The general rule of thumb is that whatever your cost is for a particular product you’re selling, multiply it times 4 to be profitable.
It’s essential to take an in-depth look at your costs, from software to packaging, and ensure that you are priced for success. I firmly believe that investing in a bookkeeper or DIY service like Quickbooks is your best bet at categorizing expenses and keeping everything organized.
RESEARCH THE COMPETITION
Thanks to the internet, finding the prices for photographers in your area should be a breeze. Take the time to look through the websites and pricing information for whoever you deem as your close competition. It’s good to know what your market is like to fit in accordingly.
However, do not…I repeat…DO NOT, feel like you need to match your numbers to your competition. You are unique and have different costs specific to YOUR business. Your prices should be unique too. I’ve often seen other photographers follow the herd because that’s what everyone else is doing.
The key here is to price yourself for profitability first, then adjust those numbers to fit your market, keeping in mind that the 4x number from the tip above may need to be adjusted.
KNOW YOUR WORTH
You’ll always have potential clients who don’t have the budget for your services, just like you’ll have repeat clients who spend thousands on your services every year. Don’t be afraid of setting your prices and keeping them firm. Remember – you’re a pro, and you deserve this! While it may be tempting to wiggle when someone loves your work but can’t afford it, remember that you can’t be everyone’s photographer. You’ve taken the time to do the research and run your numbers, and you decided how much you should be paid.
Starting a new endeavor takes a lot of courage and confidence. Never forget how hard you’ve worked to get here and don’t be afraid to price like a pro. You know how much you’re worth, and I bet your clients will know that you’re worth it too!