No blog or even a series of posts can give you everything you need to remember about pricing, but I wanted to hit on my perspective on the challenge for so many of you. It seems like there are several common themes when it comes to dealing with pricing...
- You lack self-confidence in your skill set, so you price yourself low.
- You're trying to be more competitive and think that lower prices will bring you more business.
- You've literally forgotten all the costs associated with becoming a professional photographer.
There are definitely be more, but those seem to be the top three I see most often. So, let's break them down a little.
Lack of Confidence: The issue isn't whether or not your lack of confidence is real, but whether or not it's justified. If you really do lack the skill set, but you're serious about building a business, then you may have entered the market too early. This isn't a career path where you can fake it 'till you make it. One unhappy consumer, who realizes they bet on the wrong horse, has the ability to influence hundreds if not thousands of other people.
If your lack of confidence is deserved, because you don't have the skills yet, then you shouldn't be in business. Your reputation is your most important asset - don't screw it up. Take the time for more workshops. Read everything you can, related to what you're missing. Watch every video you can find and take advantage of online education. Practice non-stop and learn every aspect of your gear. Be a second shooter and learn the skills you need for confidence.
Now, if you lack confidence simply out of fear, start getting involved with your local photographer's group. Most communities have a group of professional photographers who meet monthly. Get involved in the various forums on Facebook and share your work. Utilize your network to help you build your confidence by working with other photographers and talking about your business.
Pricing and the Competition: Okay, it's true, low ball pricing might bring you some instant business in the short run, but eventually it will destroy what you're trying to build, not to mention, undermine the strength of the market. If you want to build a strong reputation, build it on the quality of your products, services and the experience people have working with you. Look for added value to the pricing equation, NOT discounting. Talk with your lab, album company and framer about new products. Read both of the posts I linked you to in the first paragraph.
As Terry Clark said in a post about making yourself different:
“The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
What did it really cost for you to get this far? When you start looking at key price points, don't forget everything you invested to get here:
•Your Gear •Computer •Printers •Supplies •Furniture •Software •Packaging •Charges from your vendors •Education •Insurance •Rent •Phone Service •Time •Utilities •Website •Internet •Car •Gas and Maintenance •Legal Counsel •Accountant •Dues/membership •Advertising •Marketing •Additional labor •Travel/Entertainment
As Bryan wrote in his guest post,
"Pricing is a topic that most photographers will cringe at the thought of. While it may not have the same appeal as the creative side of being a photographer, it is an inevitable and crucial part of running a photography business."
This is an amazing industry and you've got a huge responsibility to each potential client to capture and create the images and memories they're anticipating. Your goal is to become habit-forming and exceed their expectations, but you've also got a responsibility to yourself, the right to earn a respectable living. Don't short-change yourself. Don't let a lack of attention to your pricing strategy challenge your ability to keep building your dream!
Illlustration Credit: © tashatuvango - Fotolia.com