A little housekeeping, I’d like to start off by saying that this blog isn’t meant only for photographers, but rather, is meant to act as a guide for creatives looking for some insight into how to price their services and products.
As someone who works in a creative space, one issue which you will have to face is how to price yourself in an industry where prices seem not to have any inkling of standardization. If you’re new to the pricing exercise, you may find that this process breaks down into some combination of “how did this person know this is what their range should be?”, “how the hell is this person justifying pricing so high?”, “why on earth is this person pricing themselves so low?”. These questions can go on and on and on, especially in industries or professions where the pricing is not regulated.
Know your Expenses
So where do we begin? First we look at the costs associated with running your business. Do you have staff? Do you have equipment? Do you own or rent a studio space? Etc. Note: The previous list isn’t meant to be all encompassing, but rather, is meant to get you thinking about all the potential expenses which may be included in you performing your job.
Sample Expense Categories
- Ads or Marketing
Learn your Niche
Once you’ve gotten these expenses or at the very least, these expense categories settled, it’s important to consider the industry within which you operate, and if applicable, the sub-category of industry. Here’s an example, say I’m a professional photographer based out of Toronto, this means that in order to accurately price myself after I’ve taken into consideration my expenses, I must then categorize my prices based on the subcategory of photography I do, in the location in which I operate such as commercial, event, etc. It’s important to note that based on the subcategory, your relative pricing must scale accordingly to fall within industry averages, or you risk losing customers because you’re too low or too high to be taken seriously.
- Event Photography
- Commercial photography
Determine your Pricing Model
In an analysis of your industry, take note of the different pricing models utilized, for example, are your priced base on hourly rates? Are they usage based? Are they flat rates? Etc. All of this will be necessary when determining your final number
Pricing Model Example
- Hourly Rate
- Flat Rate
- Specialty Based Rates
So where are we so far? You’ve figure out your expenses, and you’ve priced yourself with an acceptable profit margin for those expenses relative to the industry you’re in. Above all else, always remember that your rates or fees must be based on your expenses.
Self Analysis and Critique
So you’ve calculated your expenses and what it will take to make a profit, you’ve also now looked into the industry you’re in to see what the top and bottom tier of that industry charges, as well as the pricing models that are used for the different categories within your industry. Here comes the hard part, how do you find your space within that range? Well, this is where some honest self reflection on your skills relative to your competition comes into play. Take stock of the quality of the work within your niche and the prices associated with quality, and DON’T BE AFRAID TO REQUEST CONSULTS. If you have friends or colleagues in the industry, reach out and ask for their advice, always keeping in mind your bottom line of “Expenses”.
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