In the first part of this series, we discussed the steps to take that would help you get started on the right foot in your photography business.
This article will discuss a question that is commonly asked, and this has to do with how much you should charge for your photography services. This is usually a big debate, especially for people that are starting out in this field. Without further ado, let’s dive in, shall we?
The following questions are no doubt roaring through your mind right now:
* What should I charge?
* Should I charge for prints and even digital images?
* What about friends and family that patronize my business? Should I give them discounts? etc.These, among many others, are the questions that plague beginners in the world of photography. One thing you should bear in mind for sure is that even the top guys in the industry started somewhere and they also passed through this phase. You will, too, if you read this guide to the end.
By now, if you followed the steps outlined in the first part of this series, you must have practiced, bought a lens or two besides the usual kit lens, and hope to upgrade from using a DSLR camera to a better one.
Photography Business Is Seasonal
One thing you should be aware of before we go any further is that professional photography is not a ‘Need’ but a luxury. This is the primary reason why it fluctuates since photography business is seasonal and may be affected by a downturn in the economy.
During the period when the economy remains down, it affects the photography industry since people will be more inclined to get gas and food as against taking photographs.
Making up your mind, therefore, on what you should charge can be difficult, but it all rests on one, single factor: how good are you at photography? It is virtually impossible for you to judge yourself. Your friends and family that support your new profession will continue to encourage you, thus making the process of knowing what to charge a complicated one.
Check Out Other Photographers in Your Local Community
Apart from determining how good you are at taking spectacular photographs, the next best way to decide what you should charge is to take a look at other photographers in your locality or area. They should be photographers who are already in the line or niche of photography that you want to focus on as a professional. Ask them what they charge their clients, and even though they do not tell you outrightly, they will have given you an idea of what price you should charge for your services.
Additionally, you can ask someone who is unbiased or neutral about their thoughts about your work.
Here Is What You Should Do
Set a discounted price to help you build your portfolio. As a newbie photographer, charging $100 for one session is not far off the mark. But you should set your introductory price with fifty percent off so that your potential clients will be attracted to your offer. Do not hide the fact that your original price is $100 for a single session, and that they are getting premium service at a highly discounted price.
If your clients like your service and cherish their experience with you, they will most likely continue to work with you. Remember that the price you set for your photography services is temporary so that you can increase it as your photography skills improve.
If you have been in the photography business for some time or have honed your skills to expert level, then setting your price at $200 per session is an excellent idea. You should then offer a fifty percent discount for a specific period. Make sure that you post your price and the time frame – say within the next three to six months – on your website or blog.
Once the period elapses and you feel you are not ready to remove the discount, you should set a thirty percent discount for the same length of time or still run your show at the previous discount – fifty percent. Of course, you can take off the deduction when you start having many clients. But make sure that you offer the same value – or even more – when you raise your prices, thus allowing you to make more money while doing virtually the same amount of work.
Photographers also tend to raise their prices to stay consistent with inflation, either once or twice a year, depending on the economic situation of your country. In most cases, however, photographers increase their prices on January 1st of every year.
How to Maximize Your Income
It is a known fact that approximately sixty percent of photographers don’t last too long in this business, especially after the first year. Twenty-five percent drop out of the venture altogether by the end of the second year. In most of these cases, one of the factors that made their photography business to crumble is associated with their income.
This is why you must re-strategize and maximize your opportunities of making more money as a professional photographer. The following are some of the ways you can utilize to boost your income:
#1: Offer Discounts for Some Shoots or Order Volume Every Year
Research has shown that this method of offering discounts for booking some photography shoots annually or for large print order volumes, work like a charm. You can offer these discounts as a bonus and don’t forget to apply it to bulk orders as well.
If, for instance, your clients purchase a particular number of prints from you – based on your premise as opposed to other photographers – you can offer a ten-percent discount.
You can also do the same if they book some sessions – say four or five – with you per year. You can up the ante by offering discounts at particular times of the year, either during summer, fall or spring.
#2: Stock Photography
Creative photos tell stories, and this is why you will come across a majority of these in stock photo sites. You should consider selling your photographs to stock photo websites as you can earn income passively this way.
It is relatively easy to do; get in touch with the stock photo sites of your choice and upload your photos there. Licensing your photographs is also not that difficult as you can do so via photo websites such as Getty Images, Flickr, etc.
You should take note that the ROI – return on investment – for stock photos depends principally on how many photos or images you upload to stock websites. Images can sell for a few cents, and outstanding ones can even go for a dollar or slightly higher. But if you have hundreds or even thousands of images spread across multiple stock photo sites, you will have significantly increased the amount of money you will be making every month, without additional work.
#3: Offer Mini-sessions
There is no better way to win over clients than offering mini-sessions. Some clients may want to ascertain how good you are at your work, and your offer of a mini-session is an excellent opportunity for them to gauge your work without wasting too much time and money. These clients could end up booking you for more extended sessions in the long run.
Some clients who may have booked you for a large event or two may not have you in mind when a chance pops up for them to have a mini-session. This could be as a result of your price range which they may consider as expensive
But when you offer less costly mini-sessions – where you can charge like say $30 or more for a twenty-minute shoot – your client base will be pleased and more than willing to hire you.
#4: Establish a Referral Program
This is another excellent way of increasing your income while endearing you to your clients for long-term work. Offer discounts to every client that refers a friend, colleague or member of the family to your photography business. In most cases, a majority of these clients return to take you up on your discounted offers on their next photography session and also help to bring in new customers. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.
However, you should be careful here; you can choose to offer discounts on prints or future sessions, but not the two at the same time. Additionally, set up your referral program in such a way that those discount offers can only be redeemed when the family member, colleague or friend referred by your client has booked your professional services.
Take Photographs for a Cause
You should volunteer to take photographs once in a while at charity events as this helps you to not only network with prospective customers but also fosters goodwill within your community.
Make sure that you watermark every photograph that you take with your business name for more exposure.
If those pictures are shared on social media platforms, then you should ensure that your business or professional handle is tagged for maximum results.
In the next post: “How to start a photography business like a pro, from day one: Part 3” you will discover how to use the power of social media for your photography business. It promises to be mind-blowing, yet entertaining. Stay tuned to this page!