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 of starting any new business!
Photographers are often afraid of pricing their services too high, thinking that just because they’re new, that they should be cheap, 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 for a long time, and you need to price like one!
Here’s my best advice for figuring out just how to do that:
RUN COST OF SALES
And I don’t just mean your camera and lenses. Everything in needs to be taken into account, from the electric bill, to paper towels, to all of your editing time! To put it simply, Cost of Sales tracks how much it costs to produce a good or service. These costs include direct labor, materials, and the overhead that’s directly tied producing a finished product. The general rule of thumb is what ever your cost is for a particular product you’re selling, multiply it x’s 4 to be profitable.
It’s essential to take an in-depth look at your costs, from software to packaging, and make sure 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.
Besides the cost of physical goods, you need to pay yourself! Your time is valuable, and the time it takes you to shoot, edit, order, package, etc. needs to be accounted for. Your time isn’t free, which takes me to our next point…
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 then 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!
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 anyone and everyone. It’s good to know what your market is like so you can 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 cost specific to YOUR business. Your prices should be unique too. All too often I’ve seen other photographers simply follow the heard because that’s what everyone else is doing. The key here is to price yourself for profitability first, then adjust those numbers to fit the market you’re in.
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.
Branching out on your own 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 guarantee, your clients will know that you’re worth it too!