6 Tips for Setting Your Photography Prices

The post 6 Tips for Setting Your Photography Prices appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Elizabeth Halford.

How to successfully price your photography

Do you feel completely in the dark about setting your prices? Do you have a formal price structure or are you just coming up with the numbers? Do you constantly change your price list?

Then you’re just like me.

Well…me from a few years ago, anyway. It’s funny: you can be the best photographer, but knowing what to charge can be an un-slayable dragon. And when you’re not quite sure why you charge what you charge, it’s hard to remain firm on your prices, especially when your clients want to haggle you down to nothing.

Below, I share my best tips for pricing photos. Bear in mind that many of these approaches aren’t original – I learned everything I needed to know about setting my prices from Alicia Caine’s photo pricing book. (I’m not getting paid to tell you that. I swear by that book! It changed the entire face of my business.)

So without further ado, it’s time to learn how you can effectively price your photo services, starting with:

1. Include pricing on your website

This one is simple but extremely important: Go add some prices to your website.

It doesn’t have to be all of your prices, but you should at least publish prices for your basic services, whether that’s a couple’s photoshoot, a pet portrait session, or a full-blown wedding.

This is the first step in managing client expectations and not getting the sticker-shocked client trying to weasel their way out of paying your prices. Just publish a couple of guide prices as a reference. (Of course, make sure that the prices you don’t publish make logical sense in relation to the prices you do publish – otherwise, you run the risk of surprising and frustrating clients.)

2. Don’t feel obligated to do discounts

As Alicia Caine taught me, I don’t have to do family and friend discounts, and neither do you.

I don’t expect them from others and I don’t give them. Well…I don’t allow it to be expected. These types of discounts aren’t always a bad thing, and I might knock something off the price or give an unexpected gift to a friend – but in general, I’m not open to this kind of thing, and that’s something that I’m firm and clear about.

Why is this so important? In my experience, it just doesn’t go well when I underprice my services. The client/friend/family member values me less, and I feel a bit of resentment about spending an entire week editing a wedding I was expected to do for free. Alicia empowered me to say no.

3. Use consistent pricing calculations

Pricing your photography

You shouldn’t just price your photography services based on how you’re feeling on the day you write it all out. Instead, develop a consistent set of calculations that you use to ensure that pricing is always logical and fair.

For instance, you can determine an hourly rate, then estimate the time you spend on each service and multiply accordingly.

As long as your calculations are consistent, everything will be nice and uniform and your pricing structure will make sense.

I used to price my prints according to the square inches of the product. That took a lot of work, and since reading Alicia Caine’s book, I have used her pricing calculations. (They’re far, far easier!)

(Having consistent pricing calculations doesn’t just make you more marketable to clients; it also gives you a good explanation if you do encounter a potential client who tries to haggle.)

4. Always charge for your services (and charge up-front)

Pricing your photography

It can be tempting to charge purely based on the prints, photobooks, or image files that your clients buy after the shoot. I’ve learned the hard way, however, that you should always charge a session fee – and you should require your clients to pay up-front when they make a session reservation.

Why? First, by charging up-front, you ensure that the clients are serious and aren’t going to take up half a day on your calendar, then leave you hanging.

And don’t just take a deposit. Take the whole thing. I’ve had plenty of deposit-leavers leave me hanging, but no session-payers have let me down yet. Taking the money upon reservation (I either send them a self-addressed envelope or shoot them a PayPal invoice) falls under the category of “spent money is forgotten money.” So a week later when it’s time to buy photo products, they don’t feel like their bank account just took a hit and they’re free to spend on photos.

And they will spend because they’ve already made a financial investment. Not to mention an emotional and time investment during the session.

5. Don’t offer refunds

Whatever you do, always make it clear that anything the client pays up-front – whether that’s a deposit fee or, as I recommend, a complete prepaid session fee – is non-refundable.

They can sign a contract (a little too formal for me) or acknowledge receipt of your confirmation email by saying that they understand the fee is non-refundable.

Otherwise, even if you charge up-front for your sessions, you’ll eventually end up with some folks who try to get their money back after they bail on the session.

6. Include expiration dates on client galleries

Pricing your photography

Once you’ve finished your photoshoot, you should have a client gallery – i.e., a webpage where your clients can go through images and select their favorites. (Some client galleries also offer the option to order prints directly!)

But just having a client gallery isn’t enough. You should apply a clear expiration date to that gallery. If you don’t, clients will intend to buy but never get around to it. However, an expiration date, like any deadline, encourages them along so they’ll make purchases in a reasonable time period.

(I’ve had clients go for months without ordering! Put the gallery up for 30 days and be sure to watermark those suckers all over the place. It’s okay to ruin the preview with a watermark, and it makes it clear that swiping the preview is stealing.)

Pricing your photography: final words

Well, there you have it: my best tips for developing a photography pricing structure and ensuring that clients don’t take advantage of your services.

It’s all based on a combination of Alicia Caine’s incredible pricing advice and my own real-world experience. Since it works great for me, my hope is that it’ll work for you, too.

Now over to you:

How do you plan on pricing your photography? How do you price your services and prints currently? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 6 Tips for Setting Your Photography Prices appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Elizabeth Halford.

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