Pricing can be a challenge to any photographer. We are artists first and tend to be left-brained. So numbers and marketing are not our forte.
Pretty much every photographer has made at least one of these pricing mistakes throughout their business journey. Hopefully, I can help you avoid a few!
1. Not figuring out your cost of doing business. Friend, this is the very first step you need to take before you even attempt to decide what to charge someone! Think through all of the software, equipment, utilities, education, and supplies you’ve invested in for your business. Until you actually calculate all of the numbers, it can feel like you aren’t really spending that much. And then tax time comes around and you realize your business has actually taken a loss instead of bringing you income. Ouch.
2. Finding other “successful” photographers and copying their pricing. This one is problematic in so many ways. First, you will never know what goes on behind the scenes of that photographer’s business. You don’t know if they are actually booking at the rates advertised, any session they post could be a paid client OR it could be something they shot for free or discounted. Second, you don’t know their cost of doing business and how much of what they charge is actually profit. Third, their prices and pricing model may work for their ideal client but not for yours. And lastly, their pricing model just may not fit your lifestyle, more on that soon!
3. Being afraid to raise prices because you don’t feel you’ve reached the right skill level. TRUTH BOMB. Clients aren’t hiring purely on skill. They honestly don’t see the difference in technical skill level much of the time. Typically, they’re looking at your marketing, the service and experience you provide, testimonials, and if the people in your photos look happy. Your time is valuable, the skills you do have are outside of the client’s skill set, and you deserved to be compensated. Pricing really has nothing to do with skills.
4. Pricing in the middle. You may have heard this before, but there tends to be a dead zone in pricing. Being priced about the entry point but below those charging as a luxury service is a dangerous place to be. The bargain seekers will immediately cut you from their search. Those willing to pay for photography will think there is something wrong with what you are offering. Pricing higher creates credibility in the client’s eyes. It shows that you are an expert and that they’ll get what they are paying for. Those clients you do book in that middle or low budget range tend to ask a lot of questions and ask for additional services you typically don’t include. When someone pays high dollar, they trust the professional’s knowledge and experience and are happy to hand over their money.
4. Not thinking through your experience from the client’s shoes. We sometimes get caught up in suggestions from the experts on how to make the biggest sale. Like requiring in-person sales appointments, getting clients on the phone to talk pricing, and not having pricing on your website. These things all may totally be great for the expert’s client but not for yours and maybe not for you, which leads me to…
5. Not choosing the right pricing model for your life and values. There are so many pricing models out there and many of them can be profitable! Before deciding, take a look at your values and your life along with what your clients really want! For example, in-person sales was not a good fit for me, even though it made me money! (read more about that here). Curious what pricing model would fit you best? Take the quiz!
How many of these pricing mistakes have you made? I admit my score is 5/5!