When you wish to sell, license or publish your work, you’ll have to decide how much to charge for it. To get what you are worth, consider these propositions.
If you sell prints, you are not selling square inches of paper for the cost of printing them. For some reason, the first element that seems to enter a photographers mind when making a pricing decision is the size of the print. This brick wall has cost many photographers money. The most important thing to keep in mind is the value of your work. You build this value by evaluating ALL the factors that go into making a salable image.
So what are you selling? How about your creativity and unique ability to see and capture something that others do not see? Anyone can buy a camera, but can they capture the image exactly the way you do? How about the time you have invested in training for the moment when you captured the image? That time needs to be taken into consideration. Your mechanic, doctor, accountant, and lawyer all get paid for the time they spend doing the work. Shouldnt you be paid too? You also have to consider the level of your present technical ability. The casual amateur may not be able to get the most out of the same equipment as an experienced professional. And speaking of equipment, you must also take into consideration the value of your gear. You need to factor the cost of owning, maintaining and insuring that gear in your pricing model.
As you are deciding how to price your work, make sure you take into account and charge for your logistical skills, experience, time and your ability to translate your clients desires into a visual statement.
Be sure to take the entire package into consideration when you are preparing a price quote. It may be tempting when you are first starting out to give people deals, but those prices will come back to haunt you in the long run and will also bring down prices in the industry. So don’t do it.
Lets talk more about what it cost you to make a photograph. No matter what you buy at the store, someone, somewhere had to do a breakdown of what it costs to make that product, ship it, distribute it and warranty it. The sales price must be higher than that for profit to enter the picture.
In order to price something, you must know the manufacturing cost. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
B) Profit margin
C) The market you are serving
Calculating your overhead requires that you consider all the costs that are associated with being a professional photographer. This includes but is not limited to:
A) Equipment and depreciation
C) Rent (if any)
E) Legal fees
F) Accounting fees
G) Payroll fees
J) Utilities (if any)
O) Office supplies
Q) Professional dues/Education
Calculating profit is easier. You consider your cost of doing business by allowing for a percentage of your overhead to be applied to the cost of each job. From there, mark up your price to include a standard profit margin. This can be based on any number you want but a good starting point is to double the cost of your product.
Now you also need to adjust this figure based on the market type you are serving. Is the image being used in a small or large market? Will thousands of people see it or just a few? What is the perceived value to the client? How does the client plan to use your image? Who is your competition and what choices does your client have besides you for this type of image? Are there 50 photographers in the mix or only two or three? Consider these factors to calculate your fee.
When you sell or license an image or print, it is likely that you will have to negotiate the price with a savvy photo buyer. Knowing how to negotiate can save you time, money and help you close profitable deals. Remember that negotiating is just problem solving.
Both parties have something they need to accomplish and the negotiation makes it happen. You must not take ANY of the issues that arise during a negotiation personally. The buyer is supposed to try to get the best deal that he or she can. Thats their job. Your job is the same.
The essential steps in the negotiating process are: establish rapport, gather information, do research, ask questions, and let the buyer do most of the talking. In any negotiation, the person who listens most is likely to gain more. In any negotiation, its always very important that you do more listening than talking. Otherwise, you will miss important clues, both physical and verbal, that will help you resolve the deal.
Before quoting a price, you must try to educate the client and build the value of the product you are selling. Make sure that the client understands the effort, time and expense you invested to make the image. Those factors translate directly into the value of what you have for sale.
Try to encourage the client to place an opening bid. If the buyer is the first one to name a price, I believe you will typically be rewarded with a higher fee. A good way to open the negotiation process is to ask a question like, Whats the most you would be willing to pay for my image? or Whats your budget for this job? If you are forced to begin the negotiation process by offering a figure, an alternative is to begin with a number that is twice your standard price plus 10 percent. Once this figure is given, you can work down from there.
Remember that if you give a number first, you run the risk of quoting a price that is much lower than the buyer was willing to pay, and you’ll never know what figure they were willing to pay. So, let your clients do the talking. Then, you should listen, take notes, and preferably wait for them to tell you what they can afford.
If the client has pricing objections, be sure to return to the rapport building and value enhancement stages outlined above. Usually, a price objection really means that there is another piece of information you have not uncovered. It is likely that there is something else you have not offered that the client really wants or needs. This is why its crucial to listen more than you talk and ask plenty of questions to uncover hidden needs.
Once you have taken all the necessary steps, be sure to ask for the order. A surprising number of photographic sales don’t happen simply because the seller has forgotten to ask for the sale.
While its not possible to learn everything you need to know about pricing your photography in one blog post, I hope this information has encouraged you to think carefully about what you are going to charge the next time you have the opportunity to make a sale. Im rooting for you.
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