by Skip Cohen
I've probably written at least a half dozen posts about the importance of pricing and profitability. There's no quicker way to destroy a business than to not price your products and services the right way.
Pricing seems to be a major stumbling block for so many of you, regardless of how long you've been in business, but it's not your fault directly. For the most part you're passionate artists. If you believe the theory behind "right brain/left brain" then most of you are creative types focusing more on creativity than operations. That's so easily changed!
I had a lot of fun building the content for the second class in my Lynda.com series about starting a photography business. There's a lot of great information here, together with some terrific sources to help you strengthen your business. Here's the introduction video.
Pricing is critical to your survival and growth as a business owner. What good is working to perfect your skill set if you're unhappy over profitability? A photography business without revenue is just a hobby!
Click the link below the video above to find out more information about the rest of the series. Plus, the post below from the SCU archives is one of my favorites. You've got to pay attention to the real costs of doing business and price your products appropriately!
There's a lot of information here on the SCU site about pricing. Two of my favorites posts star good buddy Sal Cincotta and his video on pricing followed by my pal, Bryan Caporicci. Both posts will help you a lot in determining your pricing strategy. Just remember, if you don't price your products and services right, your business is doomed or to be more direct, you're going to be eating Mac n' Cheese every night for the rest of the year!
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...
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.
AsTerry 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!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.