Realize that I am writing this in hopes to share some of the epiphanies that I have had in the last year and not as any sort of expert.
I get it Pricing for Photographers is HARD! Over the last weeks (months and years probably) I have been watching several debates on different photographer education type resources about pricing. I have worked on pricing in several different workshops over several years and it has always seemed completely overwhelming and intimidating. Then, on facebook pages and other forums, you see people vilifying people with seemingly low pricing models. They start spewing acronyms such as COGS and CODB. I have made spreadsheets upon spreadsheets analyzing my COGS (cost of goods) vs my prices. Then you have to factor in your Cost of doing business (CODB). Hmmm… Well that is a little harder. Then factor your time in to your COGS to get your price…. Well… how many hours do I put in to a 5×7… and album… a digital image? Err…. Um… well, by the time I was sitting down to order the 5×7 all of the time had already been spent.
I GET THAT IT IS CONFUSING!
So at Seniors Ignite last month, we had a session with Joy Vertz and she made pricing so understandable. Joy broke things down hourly, but I think, especially for new photographers it is more understandable if you break it down by session.
Think of what you spend each year on: (made up numbers for this example)
Your Website Hosting ($192)
Your equipment ($2000)
Your Insurance ($600)
Your Phone and other utilities ($700)
Subscriptions (Animoto, StickyAlbums, Shootproof, PPA, ShootQ…) ($750)
Whatever else you can think of…
What was that total? ($7042) What did you forget? Probably something. (Packaging) Anyway, take that total and divide it by 12 to get a monthly total. ($587)
What is your ideal number of sessions that you want to shoot per month? 8, 16, 35? What is your number? (12)
Divide your monthly total by your ideal number of shoots you want to do a month. ($49)
Then do it again with your current average number of sessions a month. ($118)
So in your ideal productivity you would have to make $49 per client to JUST BREAK EVEN. But in reality if you haven’t made over $118, YOU HAVEN’T PAID YOURSELF A DIME.
How many hours do you spend working on each session? How much time do you spend emailing back and forth with the client? Do you meet with them in person before your session? How much time do you spend cleaning, prepping, and packing your equipment? Driving to your session? Shooting your session? Loading your images? Editing? Emailing to set up the ordering session? The order session? Designing products? Ordering Products? Packaging Products? What does it come out to?
How much do you WANT to make an hour?
How much COULD you make an hour if you were working somewhere else?
ALL of those factors have to go into your pricing!
Also when considering your Cost of Goods, you have to consider the delivery charges and the minimum orders. If you only charge $15 for an 8×10, realize that if a customer only orders 1 8×10 and your lab has a $15 minimum order and a $5 delivery charge, you are now paying your customer $5 to give them their print.
If you want to charge $150 and hand over a cd of images you can totally do that, but you need to be seeing a large number of clients and only spend a very short time servicing each of them. You don’t have room in your budget for extras like slideshows and new equipment.
Hard questions you need to ask?
1. How many sessions do I need to shoot a month to make being a photographer possible?
2 If I could be making more per hour somewhere else, is it fair to my family to continue doing this?
3. What do I need to be averaging to make all of this worth it?
4. Do you realize that in the above numbers you aren’t getting paid for any of the time you spend working on non client tasks?
Make whatever decision you want to make. Just make an educated decision!