“Bloody hell, HOW much do you charge.”
It’s what I always dread someone will say to me.
But in nearly 10 years as a professional photographer it’s never happened.
However, it’s a slight nagging worry every time the phone rings.
And, one day it will probably happen. Or something worse.
But you know what?
Worrying about price is the price you have to pay to earn a great living in photography.
Or any other business.
Here are some simple thoughts that will help you get over your fears about pricing your photography.
The first step is to figure out the minimum you want to earn.
Let’s say it’s £25,000 (around $40,000)
How much do you need to charge to get to that number?
…I’m afraid it’s not as simple as doing 25 weddings with £1000 profit.
A great place to start is to figure out how much you want to earn per hour.
As a wedding and portrait photographer I’ve found the absolute minimum you want is £30 per hour. But you want to be aiming much higher if you don’t want to work yourself to death.
So, consider all the different steps in photographing a wedding or a portrait session. My weddings are AT LEAST 20 hours of work and my portraits are at least 5 hours.
Don’t forget you’re not paid for your marketing time, so you need to factor that in.
Don’t forget you’ll get cancellations and postponements, especially for portrait photography.
Don’t forget you won’t book everyone, so you’ll get some wasted hours with consultations that don’t lead to a booking.
Don’t forget, sickness and holiday and your pension and all your costs.
This is when you realise you have to charge a scarier amount than you thought.
And this is where our brains start becoming a real pain in the ass.
The stupid thing tells us stuff like…
“But everyone else is so cheap, I can’t charge more”
“There’s no way I’d pay that, so how can I expect anyone else to?”
“People will think I’m a money-grabbing rip-off merchant!”
“I’m not worth it – I’m not that good – who am I to expect people to pay that?”
“Last week I emailed out 3 price lists and didn’t hear back from anyone, it must be my prices.”
We’ve all been there. I have. Every photographer has. Unless they’re mildly psychopathic!
Having said all that, if you’re really just starting out and not confident in your skills yet it’s ok to compete on price.
But only for a while.
Only to build your portfolio and hone your skills.
Steadily increase your prices as your confidence and ability grows.
Have the ambition and drive to become one of the top photographers in your area and never settle for average.
And hear this:
- Some people will always moan, whatever your price is. At some point you have to say to yourself “I’m not working with people who aren’t prepared to pay x.” Your x is the absolute minimum you need per client to make the living you want.
- Not everyone is your ideal client. It’s ok to let some people go. Over time you’ll get better at attracting and targeting the right people. Particularly with our help.
- You probably aren’t your ideal client. Just because you might not pay £2000 for a wedding photographer or £800 for family photographs it doesn’t mean other people won’t. Because they will. And we help our members understand how to appeal to that market and beyond.
- You also have to create a big demand for your photography so that you’re not desperate to book everyone who gets in touch. You know someone else will come along shortly.
Also, the way you reveal your prices to people is crucial once you start to raise them beyond the average. Once you stop competing on price and start competing on service you have to handle pricing in a much smarter way.
Our video ‘How and when to reveal prices to clients’ is nearly 2 hours long, super-detailed and bullet proof. You can watch it completely free (plus over 75 hours of other photography business strategies) if you sign up here.
You deserve to earn a living doing something you love. The biggest thing you need to overcome is yourself.
You are the biggest barrier to your success.
So how do you go from being a cheap photographer to a well paid one?
There are a bunch of little steps you can take that will get you from A to B.
Here are 3 to get you started:
- If you’re a portrait photographer and not selling your photographs in-person then you’re really missing out. On average it will triple your average order value compared with ‘shoot and burn’ digital packages or trying to sell online
- Put the prices a tiny bit outside your comfort zone and then gradually increase them as more and more people hire you at those prices
- Differentiate your business so that people can understand why you’re worth more than another photographer. Here are some ideas to get you started.
I’m probably just like you. A people-pleaser who hates talking about money. You probably just want to take nice photographs and not worry about the business side.
The great thing is that the better you get at business the more you enjoy it and the more your clients will love you.
Because our business strategies are all based on helping people and providing amazing customer service that people are prepared to pay more for.
That’s when the magic happens. That’s when you feel confident in your prices, even though they’re higher than the competition.
That’s when you want to cry with pride that you’re a successful entrepreneur, not just another photographer struggling like a cat in a bag. Let’s do this thing together.