I’ve been around long enough to know that the one thing photographers, new or experienced, struggle with the most is their prices. Setting prices for your work that allow you to profit and attract your ideal are key for making your business a success. How you price your work say a lot about your business and the clients you will attract. So how do you set your prices to get the clients you want?
Setting your prices seems like it should be such an easy thing to do. You figure out your cost of goods sold, you factor in your time, and then create a reasonable markup on top of that. While that is a nice place to start in figuring out what to price your photography work at, it is only one piece of an ever shifting puzzle. In this post I will try to cover as many pieces of that puzzle so that you will hopefully have a better idea of how you should not only price your work, but also increase your bottom line.
Lets sit back and think for a minute. What is the main reason photographers are so obsessive about the price of their work? While you could argue any number of points, the main reason is profit. We obsesses over our prices because we want to be profitable.
I would argue though, that prices are not what make us profitable. I would even argue that our skills as photographers are not what make us profitable, although that does help! It is my belief that how we present ourselves, our business, our products, and our prices is what makes us profitable. Noticed I said how we present our prices, not just our prices.
Professional Price Sheet
Having a professionally printed pricing sheet is some thing many photographers don’t do and I just don’t understand it. With online printing solutions like uPrinting being as cheap as they are, there is no reason not to get professionally printed price sheets. At some online printers, you can get 50 brochure style price sheets printed for less than $25. So what is your excuse for not having one now? Surely not because they are too expensive. Check out my cost effective solution from MOO.com below.
It is amazing how small things like this can make such a big difference. This is especially true if you are a photographer without a studio or office space. For a long time my wife and I didn’t have an office space and we worked exclusively on location. As a result, people just thought of us as hobby photographers who were trying to make some extra money. Not only did they not see us as professionals, our prices in their minds were to high. Once we got an office space and started meeting with clients there, our perceived value immediately went up and people began to take us much more seriously.
The printed price sheet has the same effect, especially for on location photographers. You can’t show up at a shoot with just your gear, a few business cards, and a price sheet printed on your home computer. If you do, people are immediatly going to see you and your work as mediocre and nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars on something they think is mediocre.
This is one of the must have books for commercial photographers. It has several great chapters about how to price you work based on various factors like creativity and uniqueness.
Have Different Price Sheet for Different Client Types
Now that you hopefully see the benefits in having a professionally printed price sheet, lets talk about how they can be even more useful. If you do a variety of photography such as newborns, senior portraits, weddings, etc; you are going to want different price sheets for each of them. While you could print all of your prices for all of your services on a single price sheet, that would be more detrimental than helpful. If a couple is coming in to talk to you about wedding photography, they really don’t care about your prices for senior portraits.
If you think about it, it only makes sense to have different price sheets based on the type of photography you are shooting. For starters many of the various types of photography you shoot come with their own sets of products, prices, and packages. The real benefit in creating multiple price sheet is that it allows you to cater directly to that type of client. By creating a price list exclusively for senior portraits and catering directly to that senior and their parents, it makes you seem more specialized.
It says to the customer, I am a photographer who knows a lot about photographing seniors.
Rather than a generic price sheet that would say, I am a photographer who knows a lot and by the way I take pictures of seniors too.
If it makes sense, have pictures of the products you have for sale on your price sheet. Yes, you will probably have samples of these products in your office or studio. But you may not always be selling in your studio or you might not have a studio. Plus, people really like being able to see the products as they visualize buying them and start running a total in their head.
As far as the overall design of the price sheet is concerned, this goes back to the idea of creating multiple price sheets for various types of clients. For your wedding clients you may want something a little more elegant. Where as with your seniors you may want something a bit more trendy. Design for the types of clients the price sheet is setup for and include pictures that represent your most popular work in that area of photography.
Cost Effective Startup Solution
MOO.com actually offers a really great cost effective solution to this problem. I don’t know that it is a long term solution, but it will definitely work while you are adjusting your pricing and testing out client specific price sheets. Ok, so whats this great solution? Many of you know MOO.com as the company that creates those cool mini business cards. Did you know however, they also print greeting cards?
Big deal you say? Well, what if I told you that they allow you to print a single price sheet with up to 4 different cover variations at no additional costs. This means that if you have a basic price list that is the same for say, babies, families, children, and adults; you could create a price list for each of them. So for example, if you ordered 100 greeting cards for your price lists, you could have 25 of them printed with a baby on the front, 25 printed with a family on the front, and so on. Again, all without any additional charge.
The obvious drawback here is that the inside must be the same, so it only works for similar type of photography in which the price lists are the same. But, as I said before, its a great place to start and give your business a more professional look.