The Issue With Pricing Your Photography
(c) By Anne Herbert
Note from Beate: As you know I have been looking for a few new contributors from different sides of the photography business. This post is from Anne Herbert who learned a thing or two about building her newborn and family photography business after relocating twice. Both times she made her business successful. Anne is a working mom and lives in Harford County, Maryland.
In an age where anyone can Google for a local photographer and shop around online, many photographers are tempted to set their prices low in order to make sure they get business. The topic of pricing in the newborn, child, and family sectors of the photography industry is very controversial right now, with many seasoned photographers arguing that these low priced businesses are degrading the market for family photographic services. I think they’ve got a great point, but don’t go changing your prices for them. If you are a low priced photographer I’m going to explain why you should change them for YOU.
First lets examine your pricing. If you came up with your pricing by drawing a number out of thin air or looking at competitor’s websites and taking money off the lowest price, you are doing yourself an enormous disservice. What you are doing is selling based on price, which may bring you some business at first but will drive you out of business (or out of your mind) down the road. If all of your marketing is based around how cheap you are, or what “great deal” you are having this month, you are sabotaging yourself. Someone will always be cheaper than you. No matter how many seasoned photographers blog or speak about the pitfalls of low pricing, there will always be a handful of people at the bottom of the market who don’t care and are selling their services for so cheap you have to wonder if they’ll even be able to be in business next year. And there will always be the people who are in the business but don’t need the business for income, and they will be able to kick the rest of us on price every time. This will never go away.
What I am suggesting is that you take a good look at your business and figure out where you want to fit in your local industry. In order to do this you have to know, to the penny, what it costs to run your business. Know how much you need to pay yourself in income each month. Once you have these numbers, ask yourself where you want to be. If you are afraid to raise your prices because you think you won’t get business, you are effectively asking your customer base to view yourself and your talent as the “WalMart” of your area. And while you may get business, you will get clients who only come to you for your affordable prices and not your work. You will be over worked and underpaid. If you do good work, I assure you this is going to bother you six months from now if it isn’t already. You’ll get clients who will nickel and dime you about all of the things you intend to sell them after the session. You will be attracting bottom feeders. If you are offering “sales” every other month these people are not ever going to pay you full price for your work. Your sale price is your price. So I ask again, what is the goal for your business? I think you should let someone else in your local talent pool take the WalMart role.
Read tomorrow what I am recommending instead…
Part 2 – Read it tomorrow
Anne Herbert is a full time newborn and family photographer. She also is a wife and stay at home mother to two little girls. Her passion for photography lives among the brand newness of those first few days of life, holding on to those fleeting moments of childhood, and the magic of family.