We all know the phrase, “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” There’s no reason to go in-depth or overanalyze something when it can be done in a simple way.
The same can be said about pricing your photography services.
There’s a few key things to take into account when you’re thinking about pricing. While most of us have a standard rate we work off of, this can be interrupted by things like requested discounts, or when you have a larger job that requires more work.
Have a Standard
It’s important to have a standard rate that you work off of. This will determine how much you’re worth, and will ultimately help you make decisions about future jobs.
To keep the numbers easy, let’s say my standard hourly rate is $100. What’s included in that hourly rate? Is it just your shooting cost, or does it include basic post-processing work? If it does include post-processing work, how much time on average do you spend editing an hour-long photoshoot? How much time do you spend traveling and communicating with clients? Let’s break it down.
If I charge $100 total to my client for an hour event, that means I spend an hour shooting, 15 minutes traveling each way, and an hour editing my photographs. That’s 2.5 hours total. So while my client sees $100, I see $40 an hour.
How Low (or High) Can You Go?
I sometimes lose track of the amount of times I’m asked to offer my services at a discounted rate. Offering a discount can be a good thing — it can help you get your foot in the door. But you need an absolute minimum price you’re willing to accept, too. By knowing the breakdown of your hourly rate, you know that, maybe it’s feasible for you to earn $25 an hour instead of $40 an hour. That means I’d charge the client $62.50 instead of $100.
On the opposite end, as you begin to make a name for yourself, you’ll ultimately be asked to submit proposals for larger jobs. These might include the same amount of work, or might be drastically more involved.
Regardless, the same principle applies. If I’m bidding on an eight-hour shoot, my standard hourly rate would bring this to $800. But then there’s setup, increased communication with not only the client, but models and locations. I could spend six hours editing those images, but the client might request additional revisions.
So if I take eight hours of shooting, six hours of editing, four hours of communication, 15 minutes of travel each way and a second round of revisions for four hours, that’s 22.5 hours. That’s roughly $35.50 per hour I’m earning, instead of the $40 I’m supposed to be making. What’s this tell us? It’s time to increase our pricing to our customers. Under this same calculation, I’d have to increase my $800 fee to $900.
Keep Your Pricing Simple for Your Clients
Depending on what you photograph, it’s important to keep things simple for your clients, too. When I started out shooting events, I was often asked why there was a post-processing fee. I have a rule where I edit every image I deliver, and that my clients never see my RAW files. I quickly learned that I could include this in the shooting fee, and no longer have it listed as a separate line item.
Sure, my hourly fee to them increased because of this, but the total due amount stayed the same. Not a single client called it into question.
The same can be said for larger jobs. While not all photographers agree, I’m against putting things like “communication” or “administrative fee” on my invoices. The same can be said for things like equipment rentals — unless it’s something requested by the client. It just seems like that’s part of the job overall, and not something that should be called out. Instead, take this into account when you’re establishing your shooting fee for a project.
Don’t burden the client and make them try to figure out what each line item means. Instead, condense it and make it easy on them to understand. It’ll make the estimating process quicker, and the invoicing process much smoother.
Pricing can be a challenge for any business owner, especially creative-minded people. And while I certainly don’t enjoy dealing with numbers up front, it’s a blessing to have a set formula in place where I can quickly and easily determine what I’m going to charge a client.
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