Have you ever had the following battle in your head (be careful, this is treacherous territory you are venturing into)? “I’m fresh out of school and just starting my photography business so people won’t pay as much for my photography services as they would a more experienced photographer.” OR “If I can just get them to understand how photography works, i can justify my prices so they’ll want to hire me.”
If you have ever had these thoughts (and by the way there are many others) then you are not alone. Many photographers buy into these two myths when it comes to setting up their prices and, as a result, lose hundreds and even thousands of dollars each month.
We think it’s about time you start charging what you’re worth. We’ve listened to photographer’s who are successful and we respect and they all have a similar message: Charge what you’re worth!
Know Your Value
First thing’s first, you have to know your market. You should know what photographers in your area are charging for the services you provide. Use the market price as a starting point and add or subtract depending on your experience. You have to know your value. You have to take all of your experience into consideration when you’re billing a client. Your value includes the hundreds of hours you’ve clocked shooting, all the money and time you’ve spent researching, buying and learning to use gear, the money and time spent on photography education, all the hours learning new software, all the hours spent editing and all the money you’ve spent on supplies, travel and living expenses while pursuing photography. You take all of that experience with you to every shoot.
You don’t work on the assembly line.
Your art is not billed by the hour, it’s billed by the impact it creates.
Play the Game
Knowing the market isn’t enough. You have to be able to play the game. It’s really just the psychology of marketing. Ultimately you need your client to think you’re worth a little more than they can afford. In fact people who think they receive a discount seem to enjoy a product less than those who pay full price.
Yes, there will always be a photographer who will undercut your prices, but that’s business… deal with it. You first have to recognize & understand your worth in terms of your skill level and creativity. Once you understand that, then you need to price yourself accordingly within the market place you are serving, but your prices should be designed in such a way which is affordable enough to get business but also create some type of profit to grow your business. Participating in price matching wars with the local cheap guy will certainly ruin your business. At the same time, charging high prices for your product, especially when nobody really knows your name, will in effect do the same thing. You have to be reasonable in your skill level to accordingly price yourself.
Jasmine Star, one of the most successful photographers we know said that if you aren’t hustling for clients, you’re not charging enough. She said you should always be pushing yourself. You do have to hustle in this business! Working for yourself is not a piece of cake. Success is rarely handed to you on a silver platter without a lot of hard work. You can never be complacent. You have to put yourself out there over and over again.
If you lack a belief in your ability it might be time to dig deep. When you work for yourself it’s critical to your survival to know what you’re worth and be confident charging it. Some of us know the value of our work and some of us are plagued by insecurity. If you find yourself wondering why you still lack confidence charging clients you may need to work on your values around money. We are all raised to think about money differently and this effects how we earn, save and spend it. Having confidence is believing that there will be enough work and enough money to go around.
But regardless of what you charge or how you charge, you have to over-deliver on the product or service. You have to present your product in such a way that your client looks at you and feels like crying tears of joy because they just can’t believe you created something for them in such a way they’ve never seen or experienced before. That right there alone will help separate you from the masses and demolish the “do it for cheap” photo guy.
Any advice you folks can give us on this topic would be greatly appreciated! How do you charge what you’re worth? We’d love to hear what you think about the article. What did er forget? How can er make it better?