Setting our prices is something many of us find really difficult and that’s why I’ve created a super simple pricing strategy for you.
There are lots of different factors you can (and should) consider when finalising your prices – including working out and weighing up the details of your cost of doing business (CODB), personal financial goals and responsibilities, desired shoot quota, working hours, demand for your work, experience, brand etc etc.
However, it can take a little while to work this all out, and often we’re pressed for time and need to come up with something fairly quickly, or we need to quickly sense-check whether or not our current prices are reasonable.
The problem with avoiding doing all that detailed analysis though, is that we’re then in the ‘pluck a figure out of thin air’ territory… and when we pluck a figure out of thin air, we almost ALWAYS undersell ourselves and let our emotions decide for us, which are usually negative and full of impostor syndrome / comparisonitis / lack of confidence – money mindset gremlins steer our decision. The result is that we end up working with prices that just aren’t sustainable in the long-term, that will never enable us to hit our income goals, and that make us burnt out and resentful pretty quickly.
So, here’s a quick & dirty method that’s a sensible compromise between the two – one that gives you a reasonable and sustainable answer today without too much faffing about.
1) First work out your ‘rock-bottom’ price
This is the absolute lowest price it’s worth your while doing that shoot for. Consider how much time, cost and and effort it will take you to liaise with the client, travel to the shoot, do the shoot, edit the images and supply the images (and any associated products). What is the minimum price that makes it worth your while? What is the lowest price that you wouldn’t feel resentful doing the shoot for? Do a very simple sum – write down how much you need/want to earn each month (before expenses), write down how many shoots you can realistically do per month – and divide the first number by the second. That is the bare minimum you need to be charging per shoot to keep your business viable.
2) Now work out your ‘in an ideal world’ price
This is the price that you’d ideally be charging if you weren’t at all worried about charging too much / your confidence / impostor syndrome / losing bookings etc etc. Obviously keep this within the realms of reality here – of course we’d all love to be earning a million quid per shoot but clearly with this we’re venturing into dreamworld rather than an ideal world. Your ‘ideal world’ price is the price that those photographers you really admire are already charging – the price that you know photographers are able to charge and you know clients are willing to pay – but that for whatever reason feels out of reach to you at the moment.
3) Now work out your ‘for now’ price
There is no hard and fast rule for this – the important thing is to find something that feels right for you personally and that stretches you without totally disrupting your business and confidence. Take your ‘rock bottom’ price and your ‘in an ideal world’ price, and write down the figure that’s exactly halfway between the two. No see how you feel about that. Ideally you should feel slightly uncomfortable about your price but not utterly terrified. If you choose a price you’re totally comfortable with, you WILL be charging too little (because as mentioned above – our emotional drivers are heavily weighted on the negative/cautious side). However, if you choose a price that feels absolutely horrifying then you won’t have the confidence to sell it. You need somewhere in the middle – a price that does make your stomach squirm a little but doesn’t feel totally ridiculous. Start with that midway price (this is ideally the rough area you should be aiming) and adjust slightly up/down until you hit a figure where you get that slightly uncomfortable, I’m nervous-about-this-but-this-
Remember that, as with anything in your business, this is just your ‘for now’ price. Nothing is set in stone – often we overthink decisions because we feel like we’re deciding what it will be forever. You can, and will, easily change this. You can always raise it more later. You’re not making any permanent commitments. You don’t have to make any drastic increases or push yourself into territory that feels destabilising.
This is just to keep you going for now in a way that will enable your business to endure and hopefully grow. You can take your time doing all the detailed work on your pricing and working on your money mindset and confidence as outlined above – but this ‘for now’ price will stop you wasting time undercharging, overthinking and working yourself into the ground in the interim.
So good luck and remember – a little stomach squirming is a GOOD thing!
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