One thing that I find that photographers and small business owners in general struggle with is adequately pricing their business. On the one hand, everyone wants to be competitive in their market, but on the other hand, you also want to pay the bills without working yourself into the ground. I get it! Honestly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution either, because everyone’s situations and businesses are different. Let’s discuss pricing a photography business appropriately:
Many photographers jump in and start charging what other photographers in the area are charging. While it is good to know what the surrounding market is booking clients at, this should only be a starting point and not the sole factor in your pricing. For one thing, you don’t know their financial situation. Maybe photography isn’t their only source of income; perhaps it is! Maybe their spouse brings in enough money to pay the bills and photography is just a hobby. Maybe they’re supporting their ailing parents? Also, how long have they been photographing? How much schooling do they have? What extras do they offer? How many clients are they taking in? We don’t know what their situation is, and we won’t presume to know either. Therefore, we keep their figure in the back of our minds and go from there.
While we don’t know the competitors’ situation, we know our own. Find out what you need to make a minimum. First, assess all of your monthly and yearly bills. Be sure to include both your household and your business expenses. If this business is meant to be a source of income rather than a hobby, you’ll want to cover all household expenses. Make sure you include saving part of your income for taxes as well as some for savings. Going through old bank statements helps here, especially if you’re trying to make this a sole source of income.
You’ll also want to keep track of all of your business expenses, including overhead costs, cost of materials, and cost of labor. If this could fluctuate every month, be sure to accommodate for the higher price point.
Once you’ve got your expenses figured out for the month, divide it by the number of clients you’d like to book every month. This number gives you the amount that you need to charge at the bare minimum to cover those expenses. The last thing you want to do is go into the hole in the very beginning.
Is the number too high? Think about taking on more clients to lower how much they’ll need to spend. You can also think about reducing your costs to make it more affordable. Or, my favorite option, add in extras to make the price worth it. Add in a print service, a maternity closet, or a one-on-one consult.
Is the number too low? If your competition is charging way more than the amount you have, then maybe you can take on fewer clients and charge them more? Remember, if you’re building a business, you aren’t guaranteed to book 30 clients every month.
When you’re deciding how much to charge for your photography, it may be helpful to create a variety of packages that your potential clients may need with various price ranges to accommodate budget limitations. When starting your business, your starting prices may be smaller than what you would like for the long term, but it may be necessary while you’re building your initial portfolio. When creating the smallest package, though, make sure you are making enough money to pay your bills. Draw a line in the sand that you will NOT go below that line, because if you do, you are taking away the opportunity to make the money that you deserve.
This part is of pricing a photography business is vital to your long-term success! Know your worth, and don’t apologize for it! If you create phenomenal artwork, if you offer extra services such as makeup or wardrobe, or if you provide framed or canvas products at the end of your client experience, you should not necessarily be charging the same as someone who meets with the client only on photo day and delivers unedited, raw digital photos. It is dangerous to your business to be charging less than you feel that you’re worth. Soon, you’ll book too many clients, you’ll be working too many hours, and you won’t have the income to show for it. You’ll start to resent your business and experience burnout before you know it.
So, where do you begin pricing a photography business that offers so much more than other the local photographers? Consider how many hours you spend delivering your high-quality work. If you aren’t making minimum wage, raise that price! You are way too talented to be offering your services for less than minimum wage. One well-priced job can make up for several smaller jobs and will decrease your chances of burnout! A good rule of thumb is to add 20% to the top of your overhead costs as your “profit” from every transaction. Your final profit can flex with your confidence and your final product.
If you’re new to your business or are ready to scale your already established one, having a mentor to help with your photography business can be invaluable. A photography mentor can help you create packages, find your niche and even bounce ideas for branding and business growth. If you’re still looking for the right mentor, listening to a photography podcast can help. The Dream Builder Podcast was created to help you, the small business owner. As a photography podcast host and as a full-service photographer in Brandon, MS, I’ve probably been through the same things you’ve been through. Together, we can help build your dream business.
To connect with me, shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to send over photography business coaching details. Let’s get you thriving in your business!
Oh and before you go, if you’re a busy photographer momma and you’re looking for a community of other women to talk marketing, pricing, sales, growth mindset and photography business systems, join our FREE Facebook sisterhood, The Dream Builder Community here!
I’ll see you there!