I was at a meeting last month that brought a bunch of photographers and creatives together in an open topic type of setting. We were allowed to share anything and ask any questions with the goal of sharing with each other so we can all grow. It was a beautiful thing.
The topic that kept being raised over and over again was pricing. Where do you start? How do you raise your pricing? How do you handle past clients who had your old pricing? And how do you do it with confidence?
I’ll be the first to admit, pricing is the hardest aspect of building your own business. Especially in a business that isn’t as brick and mortar as say a retail space. Our overhead costs vary, and a lot of it isn’t tangible. Where do you even begin when your pricing your worth as an artist?
Let me give you a little backstory. My very first wedding I photographed for $500…and it was 5 hours away! Gasp!!! My second wedding was no more than $750. I photographed two weddings for a combined total that didn’t even cover the cost of my camera body. Why? Because I wanted to see if I liked photographing weddings.
Once I figured out I actually liked weddings, I set pricing that stuck with me for far the next year and a half. My packages ranged from $800 for 6 hours to $1400 for full day coverage. I had two goals that year: build a solid foundation and make enough money to pay cash for all my equipment. So I underpriced and booked weddings like crazy!!! Was it a smart business move? I’m not totally sure about that, but it did help me achieve my goals. I worked like crazy that year, saved up enough to buy everything I needed to run a business and set a foundation to go full time in photography. Did my clients value me? Some didn’t, but most did. I made a point of giving high dollar customer service with on a low budget price, because I knew I wanted my business to grow.
I did get ridiculed by other photographers. A lot. I remember sitting at one dinner with about 10 peers, and they sat there tearing my business apart for giving away my images, having prices too low, being too friendly, anything they could think of. I left feeling even better about the path I was on because I know that when you stick your head above the crowd sometimes you get tomatoes thrown in your face. And the fact they were throwing tomatoes meant I was doing something right. Do you know what’s funny today? I can’t even remember who was at that table other than one or two photographers.
When you’re starting out, it’s hard to demand the high dollar rates we all want. I’m still not where I ultimately want to be with my pricing! But I’m working on it, and that’s what I’d encourage every new photographer to do. Take baby steps. Jasmine Star recommends raising your pricing every 3 weddings. I raise mine every 6 months. Find something that works for you, and don’t be scared to ask for what you’re worth! When I told those first year brides that I’d raised my prices for year 2, do you know what they all said? They all said GOOD! We would have paid more for you!
Go out there, run your own business, and be confident with what you offer. Because you’re worth every penny and then some!
Come join me at Darling Wedding Workshop to learn more about running a business with confidence and pricing yourself! Or contact me (aj @ ajdunlap.com) for a one-on-one mentoring session!