Aaaaagghhhhh! Is there anything more difficult than trying to price your passion? Our work is so different from that of many other careers; we don’t just shoot “pretty pictures”, if you’re like me, you feel like your work is your baby you’ve gone through 28 excruciating hours of labor to produce, your clients are your kids, and it’s so public and up for praise and criticism. How do you put a price tag on that?
We all have experienced the clients who don’t think what we do is a talent; they think it’s all about the camera. One of my favorite lines my friend, (and super talented photog) Ashley of Foto Bella Photography, said to us at the Kitchen Sink Workshop when a client pulls this line she responds, “Thanks, I taught it everything it knows.” It’s perfect, not to snotty, just enough sass to let people know it’s NOT THE CAMERA, dude, it’s the photographer behind it, and the computer, and the marketing and everything else that goes into running a small business.
When you experience a client like this, you may find it difficult to make a sale because your work isn’t valued. If you’re anything like me, you take it personally, you feel your heart crack every so slightly. Then you want to punch them right in the (fill in the blank…JUST KIDDING!) because it’s devastating when your hard work, your life’s blood, isn’t seen for what it is. What I’ve learned from experience and the sage wisdom of others such as the wonderful Amanda Holloway is you need to price yourself for YOUR target market. Do that and hopefully you won’t have to worry about taking on clients who think you are overpriced, because, I mean, they have a Nikon digital camera too and could take photos themselves.
I can’t tell you what that pricing is. I recommend taking a workshop, like KSW, or even the new Business Master Class AH offers. Rachel Brenke, The Law Tog, has a business class that I’m sure can help guide you in the right direction. Design Aglow also has pricing guides for purchase. These workshops and tools, among others I’m sure, can help guide you to what will work for YOUR biz, for YOUR clients and YOUR sanity.
Pretending I wasn’t that photographer who started out low priced, high volume would be misleading. I was. On top of photography, I was teaching high school full-time so the income was extra for my hubs and I. After the birth of our darling little Destructo, however, the income became just that, income and not just expendable income. After coming home from the KSW, I knew I needed to suck it up Sally, and really charge what I felt my work was worth. Remember, we aren’t just selling prints or digital images; we are selling an experience. These are SENIOR PHOTOS. They happen, or should happen, only once. Holy heck, writing those numbers down made me a little nervous. What if I’m not as good as I think I am? What if I lose clients because of my new pricing? What if I’m just a big, fat, stinky failure??? After I got over those thoughts (with the help of some beautiful photog friends, thanks Michelle <3) I pulled the proverbial trigger. I raised my prices. A lot. And you know what, darn it? I deserve to earn what I’m worth, and so do you!
It’s not easy to price yourself, but you can figure it out. It took me months to come up with the right formula, and I’m sure I will tinker with it here and there. You may lose some potential clients if you raise your prices and it’s hard to swallow, but they aren’t your clients. Your client values the experience you provide, the talent behind the camera and computer and the attention you can give them. Now, go out there and get ‘em, Tigers!
P.S. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @taramesyn and Instagram @tjmesyn