Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pricing..Your professional life depends on it

It's every photographer's worst nightmare.  What if I charge too much and don't land the client?  What if I charge too little, and either could have earned more, or am way underpricing and killing the market?  These are the questions that plague my mind as a photographer, and most likely are plaguing, or will soon be plaguing yours.

It's important to face this up front and be smart about it.  Do your research.  It's bad to offer a service, and not have your price established.  There can be variables, but at least have a starting point.

Search the web for what it is you will be shooting.  Say I was wondering what a photographer should charge for a half-day architectural shoot, I would search "architectural photography pricing" or "architectural photographer day rate".  There are several different ways to search pricing, and the terms that work best always include "photographer" and either "rate" or "pricing".

Another important step is to determine whether you will be charging hourly,  per shot, or daily.  You may want to include edit fees, or add them on an hourly or per photo basis.  Charging for CD's, gas mileage, time spent driving to site, or any other detail that you can think of should be covered.  I like to generally factor these into the estimate that I come up with for a job, and not add them as an extra charge.    This is just my way of making it simple, and being up front with a client.  If you want repeat business, then you must be up front about all fees before the job even begins.  The only exception to this for me is that I will charge a certain amount per mile for gas and travel if the shoot is over 40 miles away.  This makes sure that I don't lose any profit because of travel.

One other great way to research price is by simply researching photographers that do what it is you are pricing, and giving them a call.  Most photographers will be willing to share prices, but usually only if you are not competing with them in their local market.  Try and find photographers that are in different cities or states.

You must compare prices as well.  What works great in one city, may be low or high somewhere else.  This is when you may need to ask other photographers in your area for their rates.  Hopefully they will want to share this with you.

There is a program available now that calculates certain specific quotes for you.  Here is a link to download FotoQuote  .   This offers pricing for many image usages, and is a huge help when you are making a unique sale.  You can also research pricing for images at Getty.  You can choose specific usages on their site, and will be able to see what they are charging.  The amount they are selling for is usually higher than what you will be able to get, but it serves a great starting point.  If you are selling editorial photos, a free price calculator can be found here at: Editorial Photographers .

These are just some of the great places that I have found to calculate photography pricing.  I'm sure there are many that I am not mentioning, and if you are reading this and know of one, please add it as a comment below so that I can post it in this article.

Finally, you will need to manage your sales and expenditures for tax purposes.  I've been using QuickBooks this year, but recently switched to an amazing program called BlinkBid.  It's a bit expensive up front, but manages all your clients, and helps you track all your images licensing and sales.  I highly recommend it especially since it was built for photographers!


aliskivail said...

Connor! Your'e a great photographer!!! Take Kel, Hil, and I's pic!

My family loves your website so much!

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